The Top 50 Women in STEM

by Judith Curry

Inspiring biosketches of some amazing female scientists, which rather astonishingly includes moi.

While at the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society a few weeks ago, a number of people mentioned my Girls Rule(s) blog post, saying that it stimulated much discussion.  Several requested that I do more posts along these lines, related to the sociology (including gender issues) in our field.  I said I would, if an opportunity/ presented itself.

Such an opportunity has just presented itself.  The Best Schools has published an article The Top 50 Women in STEM. Excerpts:

They say that success is the best revenge.

For every woman who has ever felt exasperated by the various speculations regarding the existence or non-existence of innate differences between the sexes with respect to mathematical ability, what better rebuttal could there be than a list like this one?

The very fact that these fifty women have achieved what they have shows the superficiality of the whole debate. It ought to be clear by now that the mature expression of sophisticated human capacities depends upon a complex interaction between biological endowment and cultural and educational opportunity (that is, nature andnurture).

We simply looked for the best women in their respective fields — women who have gotten where they are by simply plowing through whatever obstacles may have stood in their path. Women with a lot of innate talent, certainly, but who have also put in a great deal of extremely hard work.

In other words, what our list shows — to today’s young women and whoever else may be interested — is that it can be done. If a young woman has a taste and a talent for math and science — and a capacity to stick with it to accomplish her goals — that is really all she needs. At the end of the day, everything else is sound and fury signifying very little. 

In short, the highly accomplished women on this list provide the best sort of role models for mathematically and scientifically inclined younger women. They say it loud and clear, for all the world to hear:

“Just get out of my way, and let me get on with the work!”

Climate and geophysical sciences

Here are the biosketches of 4 women from the list, in fields that are closest to climate science (including 2 scientists further afield, but in university departments that include climate science):

Judith A. Curry, geophysical sciences and climate science

Curry took her bachelor’s degree in geography from Northern Illinois University in 1974, and her PhD in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago in 1982. In 2017, under intense pressure and amid public controversy, she resigned her long-time position as Professor in the School of Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech University, where she had served as Chair of the School from 2002 until 2013. Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, Curry had been Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and before that had taught at a number of other prestigious universities, including Penn State, Purdue, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has published nearly 200 peer-reviewed papers, and is co-author or -editor of three important textbooks: with Vitaly I. Khvorostyanov, Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds (Cambridge University Press, 2014); with James R. Holton and John Pyle, Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (Academic Press, 2003); and with Peter J. Webster, Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (Academic Press, 1998). Curry has served on NASA’s Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee, on the Climate Working Group of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and on the National Academies’ Space Studies Board and Climate Research Group. In 2004, she was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2007, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In spite of these solid credentials and achievements — and despite her entrenched position within the institutions of mainstream American academic climatology — Curry came under vitriolic attackfor publicly censuring what she perceives as the growing politicization of climate science, which she feels has resulted in claims that are not adequately supported scientifically, in the stifling of needed further research, and in intimidation, fear, and conformity throughout the discipline. It was this courageous public stance — including an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 and culminating in congressional testimony in 2015 and again in 2017 — that eventually led to her resignation from her tenured position at Georgia Tech earlier this year.

Maureen E. Raymo – geology, paleoclimatology

Raymo was born in Los Angeles. She received her bachelor’s degree in geology in 1982 from Brown University. She went on to earn two master’s degrees, in 1985 and 1988, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, as well as a PhD in 1989 from the same institution. After graduating, she spent a year at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Between 1991 and 2011, Raymo taught at University of California–Berkeley (briefly), at MIT, and at Boston University. For a number of years during this period, she was also an Adjunct Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In 2011, she returned to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where she is currently Lamont Research Professor and Director of the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository.

Over the course of her career, Raymo has participated in or led field expeditions to Tibet, Patagonia, South Africa, southern India, and Western Australia, among other places. Her particular area of interest lies in understanding the causal factors responsible for the earth’s climate variation over geological time. This involves many different factors, including variations in the earth’s orbit (and thus distance from the sun), variations in solar activity, plate tectonics, and the evolution of life (and thus its contribution to the physics and the chemical composition of the land surface, the oceans, and the atmosphere). One of Raymo’s signal contributions to the field is her Uplift-Weathering Hypothesis (developed with William Ruddiman and Philip Froehlich). This hypothesis states that during mountain formation (tectonic uplift), such as on the Tibetan plateau, many minerals that become exposed at the surface interact with atmospheric CO2 in a process of “chemical weathering,” leading to a net loss of carbon to the atmosphere and a lowering of the earth’s mean surface temperature. The hypothesis has proved to be quite complicated in its details, and thus difficult to test. It is still being hotly debated. In 2014, Raymo received two of the most prestigious awards in her field: the Milutin Milankovic Medal of the European Geosciences Union and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London. In 2016, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sara Seager – astrophysics, planetary science

Seager was born in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics in 1994 from the University of Toronto. For he graduate work, she moved to Harvard University, where she received her PhD in astronomy in 1999. For her dissertation, “Extrasolar Planets under Strong Stellar Irradiation,” she worked on developing theoretical models of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, under the direction of Dimitar Sasselov. After graduating, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She also held a position as a Senior Research Staff member at the Carnegie Institution of Washington through 2006. In 2007, Seager joined MIT as a Associate Professor; she became a full Professor there in 2010. She is currently the Class of 1941 Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at MIT.

Seager has been at the forefront of efforts to discover and study exoplanets, particularly by analyzing their atmospheres through spectroscopic analysis. The difficulty this presents lies in the extreme faintness of the light reflected by extrasolar planets in relation to the light from the nearby stars they orbit. Seager has worked on several NASA missions — past, ongoing, and in the planning stages. A future mission she is currently involved in developing will deploy a novel mechanical device to occlude starlight in order to make the closer study of exoplanets feasible. (See the video clip below for details.) Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013, Seager is also known for the Seager Equation, a revised version of the famous Drake Equation, which provided a formula for estimating the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial life in the universe. She has co-edited (with L. Drake Deming) the volume of conference proceedings, Scientific Frontiers in Research on Extrasolar Planets (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 2003), and authored two popular college textbooks: Exoplanets (University of Arizona Press, 2010) and Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes (Princeton UP, 2010).

Susan Solomon – atmospheric chemistry

Solomon was born in Chicago, Illinois. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1977 from the Illinois Institute of Technology and her PhD in chemistry in 1981 from University of California–Berkeley. Upon graduating, Solomon went to work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, where she spent the bulk of her career. There, she worked in the Aeronomy Laboratory, the Earth System Research Laboratory, and at the time of her retirement in 2011, was head of the Chemistry and Climate Processes Group. That year, she joined MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. It was while working for NOAA during the 1980s that Solomon did the work upon which her reputation primarily rests. In the 1970s, it had been observed that the ozone layer on the stratosphere — which screens deadly cosmic radiation and upon which all life on earth depends — was becoming depleted. The problem was especially acute over Antarctica, giving rise to the phrase “ozone hole.”

Solomon and her team at NOAA began to study the problem and came up with what proved to be the correct causal mechanism: the interaction of atmospheric ozone with man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were present at that time in a wide variety of refrigerants and aerosol propellants. To test the theory, Solomon led expeditions to Antarctica in 1986 and 1987, personally carrying out observations showing that the abundance of chlorine compounds there is about one hundred times greater than expected, thus confirming the CFC theory of the etiology of the Antarctic ozone hole. As a result of Solomon’s work (as well as that of James Lovelock and others), several international treaties were signed in the late 1980s phasing out the production and commercial use of CFCs. By the early twenty-first century, it had become clear that the strategy was working — stratospheric ozone depletion was being reversed. Solomon, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1999, is currently the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT.

Does science need a #metoo moment?

As mentioned in the recent Week in Review post, Sarah Myhre recently had an essay published in Newsweek: When will science get its #MeToo moment?  The punchline:

Science should be a feminist institution, but we aren’t there yet. We have been silenced by a culture that tells us to divest ourselves from ourselves, for the sake of apolitical objectivity. Everywhere in our society, but doubly so in science, we are told to remain calm, play nice and keep our head down. As if our silence and complicity, indeed our docility, will be rewarded.

This is a lie. There is no reward in acquiescence, only subjugation. We deserve better, and we’ll get it.

The feminist reckoning is here, and it is coming for science.

I wonder how many of these 50 female scientists own pink pussy hats. I’m betting not many, if any.

Yes, lets weed out the serial sexual harassers.  But the bottom line for science has to be this:

“Just get out of my way, and let me get on with the work!”

Yes, we need more females in STEM.  Which message is more powerful for inspiring/attracting more young females into STEM – science #metoo, or the biosketches of the accomplishments of these 50 women?

In the many discussions I’ve had about Girls Rule(s) with other female scientists and professionals, the one somewhat critical point was this, I’m paraphrasing:  “I agree with much, but not everything.  These are the views of the older generation feminists, not the younger generation.”  The individual making this point was 40-ish.

Well, as a scientist, i don’t identify as a feminist (and haven’t throughout my entire adult life).  I have worked to empower female scientists and help them navigate various obstacles.  For me, it is about science, not feminism.  This sentence sums it up for me:

At the end of the day, everything else is sound and fury signifying very little.   

Some of the younger generation scientists seem to identify first as feminists, who happen to have careers as scientists.

JC reflections

Well I am certainly proud to be included in this list of outstanding women scientists.  I found it absolutely exhilarating and inspiring to read these 50 biosketches.

I don’t doubt that most if not all of these women (especially the older ones) have encountered obstacles in their career, including gender discrimination, sexual harassment and/or family-related challenges (the topic of the Girls Rule(s) post).  But all that is beside the point of their accomplishments.  I also don’t doubt that most if not all of these 50 scientists has in some way worked to increase the participation and success of females in STEM.

Celebrating the accomplishments of women scientists is much more important than whining about a misogynist culture in science, in terms of the goals of increasing the numbers of women in STEM fields and advancing the careers of those women.

My 7 year old grand daughter will come over today after school to spend time with us.  She has an interest in science — her favorite ‘toys’ are the electronics set and magnet science that I got her for XMAS.  She is in the process of watching the black hole series on NOVA.  She has other interests too, but perhaps she might follow in Grandma Judy’s footsteps?  I will go through The Best Schools article with her, and tell her the science topic that each female scientist is working on.  I will report back on her reactions :)

Will I bother talking to her about discrimination etc. that female scientists have faced?  Nope.  1-2 decades from now, when she is entering into the work force, I have every confidence that females will not be facing any discrimination in STEM fields.  We aren’t quite there yet, but continuing to highlight the accomplishments of females in STEM fields will probably do more than anything to diminish any residues of discrimination.

78 responses to “The Top 50 Women in STEM

  1. Dr Curry, there is a real problem with some women in science. Did you read the letter in Scientific American? Identify politics has no place in science. Science is a process, not an identity. There are no women scientists and no men scientists, there are people that follow the scientific method. The moment you apply man scientist of a woman scientist, you destroy the credibility of the process. That being said, comments like this quote pretty much rule out these women as real scientists. If women force real scientists to accept ad hominem attacks as valid comments for a scientific journal, we are in real trouble. IMHO, Women scientists need to up their game as a collective and allowing this kind of garbage to be published really hurt your cause.

    By 500 Women Scientists on January 30, 2018

    As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community’s credibility to a man who would undermine the United States’ most prominent science agency. And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.

  2. Congratulations Judith. Well deserved I think, have been drawn to this website because of your embrace of uncertainty and willingness to explain some very difficult concepts to amateurs like me.
    Hopefully Georgia Tech are kicking themselves.:-)

  3. Congratulations, Judith. Let me second what Stephen Anthony said.

  4. Hi Judy. I was fortunate to work for and with Joanne Simpson. She is an outstanding and ideal example of achievement by a scientist, irrespective of her gender. She would be very proud of you! Roger Sr

  5. Congrats on making the list, Judith. Science is fragile to cultural bias of all kinds, and noble causes have frequently been the initial route in. Science should no more be feminist than masculist (if that’s the right word).

  6. Congratulations on making the list JC; my daughters need role models like you.

  7. Working in several IT departments I found that male and female developers behave differently. Men work in brief concentrated spells. broken by “play” periods, while women keep their heads down and get on with their work. Male bosses stress the “how” aspect of performance (mission statements, behavioral codes etc.) while female bosses concentrated on the “what.” I would not be surprised if women scientists have a different perspective and different contribution to make.

    • Oldfossil:
      I have no basis for questioning your observations, however, I would be far more comfortable if your propositions were phrased in terms of many or some (insert demographic category here) as opposed to sweeping generalizations. I do not see gender as a valid explanatory variable for much discretionary human behavior, especially problem solving or cognitive processes. At the margins there maybe some important evolutionary biologically linked differences.

      Indeed, I think that this post is actually about 50 successful scientists who happen to be women and not 50 women who happen to be successful scientists. I think my interpretation captures Judy’s own position.

    • oldfossil: “Working in several IT departments I found that male and female developers behave differently.”

      I spend 25 years working (up to VP level) in electronics and IT companies ranging in size from less than ten people, to hundreds, to a few thousand. Admittedly, female engineers were always in the minority, but I found far more variability within male engineers as a group and within female engineers as a group than between the two groups. I’m pretty sure all serious empirical research on personality traits reaches the same conclusion – there are measurable differences between men and women at the population level, but those differences are dwarfed by differences between individuals within each population.

      Understanding that there are differences between men and women at a population level is not very useful in almost all practical levels. And so, for example, if you wanted to fill a managerial role where particular personality traits were desirable, and others were undesirable, you would do FAR better fitting prospective candidates to the role by performing psychometric tests than by selecting on the basis of sex, even if you would expect on average one sex or the other to be favoured based on population studies.

      It is remarkable to me how irrational and charged the topic of sex differences has become – to the point of blank denial of facts – even by very well educated people (indeed, almost entirely and exclusively by very well educated people). No one would have any difficulty in acknowledging that men are taller than women as a population, but realise that this doesn’t mean if you want a tall person to perform a task you should check between their legs rather than measure their height! However, this statement of the obvious – that population differences can exist, without it implying that every individual within a given population is the same – seems controversial even to the point of being unutterable in many places (especially universities).

  8. Judith Curry,

    Congratulations upon your affirmation by others as a scientist. I am sure you already know who and what you are. I am not wise enough to ascertain beforehand who may or may not go into the STEM curriculums irregardless of gender. Our two daughters avoided math and science in high school and college, taking only what was necessary to graduate. Both are happy in their career choices of social work for one and stay-at-home mom and fiction writer for the other. As proof that there was at least some semblance of a science riff in the family our son is a Ph.D in Computer Science and working as such.

    I can say I have had brushes with the feminist movement both long ago and recently. I am confused as to whether I am being asked to give up something or just that someone wants revenge. The tone of said conversations feels more like the latter.

  9. Judy: As I implied in my response to Oldfossil above, I consider you a great and brave scientist who happens to be a biological female. We cannot afford to ignore ~50% of the pool of potential great scientists. To do so is plain dumb.
    Congratulations on the recognition – the gender qualifier is superfluous IMHO.

    • I am a retired engineer, my feeling is you will not be an engineer if you don’t want to be an engineer. Women in science or engineering must first want to be in that field. Women surely are intelligent enough. But if at the young impressionable age they are not “expected” or encouraged – they likely will not pursue those fields.

      • Albert Hopfer: “if at the young impressionable age they are not “expected” or encouraged – they likely will not pursue those fields.”

        There is no lack of expectation and encouragement of young women – the complete opposite is true. Massive resources and effort have been expended making the pathways into STEM fields as appealing as possible for girls.

        However, our system in the West is deeply flawed, and so still does not serve the best interests of women and society. What we need is compulsion and the threat of a long period of incarceration in labour camps for any women who refuses to comply with what is best for her as scientifically determined by feminist religionists, who will reach their judgement by an infallible method not available to science called ‘plucking sh*t out of thin air.’


        ‘Women do not enter STEM fields because of lack of expectations and encouragement.’


        ‘Go balls-out with encouragement, parading female role models, creating an educational environment that has positive expectations in relation to girls and STEM. Spend billions upon billions on this. Have the message reinforced by 99.9% of educationalists, 99.9% of every state bureaucracy, 99.9% of the media, and 99.9% of culture from sitcoms to high art. Hound out every recess of society which does not reinforce this message and fix it! Do this for several decades.’


        ‘It makes no difference.’


        ‘The hypothesis is WRONG. In fact, it is more than wrong. It is driven into the ground, dug up, smashed to pieces, reburied, dug up yet again, incinerated, the ashes collected, chemically transformed by the most caustic compounds known to humanity, subject to powerful nuclear radiation, put on a rocket and fired off into space on multi-trillion dollar interstellar mission that requires a global effort to accomplish it. i.e. The hypothesis is destroyed and consigned to the further possible reaches.’

        Conclusion of sophisticates (otherwise known as the pathologically spineless) who understand that flattering the vanity of women is a duty that surpasses all others:

        ‘If at a young impressionable age they are not “expected” or encouraged – they likely will not pursue those fields.’

      • aporiac says;
        “Massive resources and effort have been expended making the pathways into STEM fields as appealing as possible for girls. ”

        What is appealing to a girl or boy is not a TV commercial or government funded job encouragement.

        Hands-on is required. And the appeal for girls to STEM is in stiff competition with 100’s of other appealing stuff.

        Few boys became auto mechanics or engineers who never re-built a carburetor or learned to wind an electric motor.


      • Albert: “Few boys became auto mechanics or engineers who never re-built a carburetor or learned to wind an electric motor.”

        You are right. All of the effort that has gone into encouraging girls into STEM fields has been a clever conspiracy to throw almost unlimited resources at them in order to confound and distract the laity, while depriving them of the one thing they truly needed – carburetors.

        Your courage in revealing this dark secret out of sympathy for girls marks you out as a true gentleman.

        Do you seriously think that a fool is of any help to anyone, including women, because somewhere in the labyrinth of their muddled thinking there was at some point a seed of benevolence?

      • Albert: “And the appeal for girls to STEM is in stiff competition with 100’s of other appealing stuff.”

        You are right about this. My daughter is academically gifted – she could easily have got a place at a top university in STEM or any other field. By the time she was nine or ten she was inventing her own novel ways of solving problems in maths homework because regurgitating the methods she’d been taught in class was too easy and bored her. Now she is in art college.

        She had no lack of encouragement. In fact the opposite is true. It would have been deeply gratifying to me had she used her obvious talents to follow a career in mathematics, science or engineering. Furthermore, she had the advantage of having a father who could have supported and assisted her. However, she has many other talents besides and decided matters for herself, leaving behind many broken-hearted teachers and administrators who had invested enormous hope and effort into her as a potential ‘woman in STEM’.

        None of this bothers me in the least because although I took delight in playing maths games with my daughter from the earliest age, I paid equal attention to bringing her up as a person with a mind of her own. So long as fathers continue to raise their daughters accordingly they will have no difficulty in distinguishing reality from feminist propaganda and the sentimental tripe of foolish old men, both of whom are convinced they are doing the greatest possible favour to people they know nothing about and have not the slightest interest in taking the trouble to get to know.

        I know I am only presenting anecdotal evidence. However, I have a lifetime of such anecdotes, every one of which leads me to the same conclusion. I admit you have approved platitudes on your side, and in a world where the official definition of truth is approved platitudes you have an advantage over me. Fortunately I have brought up my kids to disregard such trash.

      • aporiac,
        There is an other consideration more in the accounting column.

        If say there are 30 male scientists to every female, to increase or balance the number of male-to-females would require either increased funding or the release of males or any combination.

        It would be challenging to (for example above) prevent 14 males who desire to enter the field (if funding remains the same) so that 14 additional females could be hired (after being sold on the idea). However, this may evoke the chicken or the egg dilemma.

        Which points out why “natural selection” is the current chose choice.

      • from aporiac,
        “Do you seriously think that a fool is of any help to anyone, including women, because somewhere in the labyrinth of their muddled thinking there was at some point a seed of benevolence?”

        No. I believe there needs to be a desire from within the individual at some level. I performed much like your daughter in the eyes of my father. My farther being a businessman / salesman. I became what he always said was the more difficult sale to make was of an engineer.

        This desire to be an engineer for me had nothing to do about my father, who’s IQ was up in the 150’s and expert in math, but rather a burning desire from within to invent and discover and yes build. My mother, who in the ’50s was telling me all the time that televisions will eventually be hung on the wall like a picture-frame always intrigued me however.

        I did wind up with numerous patents relating to a product that among other things allowed high speed internet servers in the mid ’90s and for IBM to emulate the forerunner of Big Blue. Not bad for a little ole country boy.

  10. Congratulations on receiving this well deserved recognition!

  11. Congratulations Ms. Curry, keep up the great work, you are a great source of inspiration for so many out here, besides being such a class act as evidenced in your blog and appearances in public. Thermodynamics? that field includes moi,(to paraphrase you) holder of a humble MSME with a major in Thermodynamics which served me so well in the oil and gas industry, the “monster” with 5 heads: exploration, production, transportation, refining/marketing and petrochemicals, supplying the world with: transport, heat/AC, electricity, and a myriad of products we use every day. Oh, yes, our main product hydrocarbons, upon combustion does produce CO2… One request: for the life of me I couldn’t find your New Year’s set of reflections, a sort of “credo”, which I thought was very valuable for all of us as food for thought and then some. Where can I find it? Thank you again.

  12. Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  13. 20 years in science education allowed me to see the girls always had an edge. Age made a difference. 3rd thru 6th grade there was not a ton of difference. As you woukd get into middle school age, the girls started separating themselves. They were more likely to be serious about their day in the forest doing science.

    There is nothing genetic that makes men or women better at being scientists, engineers, doctors, or any profession requiring a good mind. So if there are not equal numbers, it’s our fault

    • timg56, “So if there are not equal numbers, it’s our fault”

      There is only fault if unequal numbers is a problem. Why do you assume it’s a problem? If you are correct and it is a problem, in what sense as an educationalist have you screwed up? Please be specific about the ways in which you and your colleagues have been putting obstacles in the way of women, and explain your motivations, and if it’s only been your colleagues and not you, what have you done to confront them on this reprehensible behaviour?

  14. My head is swimming after reading the accomplishments of the honored 50. The 21st Century is better because of all the contributions made by these fabulous individuals. Your inclusion is no surprise to many of us, since you embody the very attributes that a world class scientist should have. Congratulations.

  15. Congratulations Judy.! You worked hard for it __________________________________ Dr. Nasser Saidi Chairman, CEBC L: +9714-368-9234 (tel:+9714-368-9234)| M: +97150-285-5757 (tel:+97150-285-5757) Dubai | PO Box 211975 | 1704 Al Seef Tower, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE L: +9611-218-077 (tel:+9611-218-077)| M: +9613-896-111 (tel:+9613-896-111) Beirut | PO Box 16-5222 | 50 Rue du Liban, Saifi, Beirut, Lebanon Skype: nanonano166 ( ( ( View my research on my SSRN Author page:

    > >

  16. Every good wish, Judith, and congratulations!

  17. David Springer

    If asked to name a great female scientist I’d say Curie. If asked to name another one I’d need to google an answer. Sad!

  18. Congratulations, Judy. Well deserved.

  19. Well done Judith.


  20. wishing you all the best Judith. You’re an inspiration to us all on the engineering side of things.

  21. Congratulations Judith. Well deserved recognition.

    There is an essay by Clive James in the new book Climate Change the Facts 2017. That is a must read. He says this about you:

    “Rule by bureaucracy favours mediocrity, and in no time you are in a world where Julia Slingo is a figure of authority, and Judith Curry is fighting to breathe.”

  22. There’s an interesting paradigm at work that the now deceased Sally Ride recognized and addressed until she died… girls show a lot of interest and talent in science — engaged equally with boys — up to ~ 6th grade — and, then get distracted around 7-8th grade, for myriad reasons. More role models will surely help those who may need help overcoming feelings like–e.g., being smart isn’t cool.

  23. Congratulations, Professor Judith Curry, positive role model
    for women in science and upholder of the critical scientific method.

  24. Needless to say, Judith Curry is the best woman climatologist today.
    I would like to add in the top women in STEM:

    Sallie Baliunas – astrophysicist, the first woman skeptic of CAGW. 20 years ago she was already debunking flawed climate models, extreme weather, high CO2 sensitivity estimates, Trenberth, Al Gore, etc. long before popular web blogs on these topics appeared

    Andrea Ghez – Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Chair in Astrophysics, UCLA. Founder and Director of UCLA Galactic Center Group. A leading researcher in black holes

    Carolyn Shoemaker – a remarkable woman. She has Master’s degrees in history, political science and English literature. She became an astronomer at age 51 and discovered 377 minor planers and once held the record for most comets discovered by an individual (32 comets). She also co-discovered over 800 asteroids. With her late husband Eugene, she’s been hunting for near-earth asteroids since 1980s before in became fashionable in Hollywood and NASA. At 88 she’s still working at the Lowell Observatory

  25. Congratulations Dr Curry, very well deserved.

    Looking back a few years, Mary Cartwright was the discoverer of the periodically forced nonlinear oscillator, the phenomenon of an oscillating chaotic system being periodically forced from outside. Mary Cartwright was the first woman to graduate in mathematics in 1923 with a first class degree from Oxford University in England. She would also be the first to recognise chaos as a mathematical phenomenon and to study forced oscillating systems in the context of wartime research into radar. But she was ahead of her time and no-one appreciated her findings. Decades later chaos would again be “discovered” by others. The great American (male) physicist Freeman Dyson tried to persuade Mary Cartwright to accept recognition as the scientific pioneer of chaos theory, but she rebuffed his efforts, perhaps in a misplaced sense of wartime self sacrifice or self deprecation.

  26. There are any number of highly accomplished women in science – as there are in any many other fields. I could add dozens of names – but would be a bit uncomfortable categorizing people as women scientists rather than just as scientists. It just never occurred to me that this was a thing.


    Many of my favorite writers, artists and thinkers are women. Some women – a very few – can even cook. Elizabeth David and Charmaine Solomon have been far more inspirational than Jamie Oliver.

    In the age of gender fluidity – it would seem uncontroversial that human brains are on a continuum. Claiming to identify traits that are exclusively male or female (based on genitalia) is prima facie absurd. I have known many women who are both smarter and more technically capable than most men.

    I am a little uneasy with the whole gender list thing – it seems both old fashioned and condescending. Surely we should be beyond needing to say that women can do science and math.

    • Agreed; I am highlighting the accomplishments of women as an antidote to the pussy hat wearing crowd.

    • Robert Ellison:
      Well said. I share your misgivings if gender is used as some kind of explanatory variable. I share your sense that it is absurd to argue that complex functioning needed for great science is significantly dependent on gender. I have less of an issue if gender is used to counter some misguided assumptions or too simply encourage an objectively under-represented group to get involved in the sciences.

  27. Congratulations Dr Curry.
    The difficult thing about guiding young girls (or boys) into STEM is to pay attention to their early interests and then supply support and encouragement.

    Children have natural inclinations and gentle guidance can work while demanding focus can provoke resistance and distaste. A delicate balance but worth it in a world that needs science, engineering and technological improvements. But if art and music rise to the surface one should be open to encouraging that direction for the future rewards to the youngsters.

    The award for you is well deserved and I hope GT recognizes the accomplishments and reflected credit you brought them in the future.

    • Richard, not necessarily in conflict. My daughter played violin and viola in the Queensland Youth Orchestra, studied Engineering – Space and Mechanical and worked as a pipeline specialist on major projects, with clients such as BHP-Billiton and Mitsubishi Heavy Engineering. My son is a thoracic physician and a guitarist who has a popular music group; he’s just gone to Iceland to establish thoracic and sleep units in a major hospital. My other daughter was a government policy advisor now moving into archaeology. We never sought to direct them, but gave them an example of how to live an harmonious, productive and fruitful life.

  28. Curious George

    Dr. Curry, from my perspective your great non-scientific contribution is this blog, not kudos from Congratulations anyway.

  29. I have a 13 year old grand niece who lost her mother two weeks ago. I was the first of the family on the scene – being closest to Mackay in Queensland. Amanda committed suicide – all very sad – I can only think that she was afraid – perhaps irrationally – of losing her daughter. Amanda’s spirit was adventurous, cheerful, brave and bright – they had escaped after all from the wilds of western Sydney. We used to sing folk songs about this dreaded place. And I am a great believer in God, light from dark and the eternal moment of the space/time continuum.

    “I spent all my brass in a shanty smokin’ grass,
    Across the western suburbs I must roam,
    ‘Til I find a home in my little darlins arms,
    Across the western suburbs I must wander.

    My grand-niece is a charming and beautiful teen with sociopathic tendencies. She is with her paternal grandmother in southern Queensland. Her father has been long absent and is currently in prison. OMG.

    She has an interest in books and art and tells me she is good at math and science. I will give her some books to start and see where it goes. Wind, Sand and Stars – an incandescent work of art by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And an audio – on some platform I suppose – of James Joyce’s Ulysses. To get the comforting charm of the lilt in that vulnerable place between waking and sleeping. And a turquoise star on a gold chain.

    What we need is much more fun – everywhere – but especially for our children. The great thing about science is that it is meant to be communicative and fun. And there is a real science that is less certain but more fruitful in ideas. A solving of a puzzle. Investigating truth in a field of obscure clues.


    Our children mostly need to be safe and loved – where they are not we should overthrow the world. But – if math and science is her thing – I’ll suggest chaotic population dynamics generally and especially on the Great Barrier Reef. What could be more fun? And a very important question for the next few decades.


    We do of course love and miss Amanda.

    • That’s very sad. Lets hope your grand niece is able to overcome this and live a happy and useful life


    • Robert I Ellison

      Let me express to you, friends and relatives my sympathy for your loss.

      A suicide many times leaves the survivors with the question: why? Mostly, the answers remain speculative for a lifetime. The impact of the suicide upon an individual, like a daughter, especially at a time of middle teens, allows already prevalent self-destructive thoughts to accumulate requiring at times professional intervention besides the love and caring she needs.

      My best thoughts to you and the others who remain standing.

  30. Berényi Péter

    I have no doubt, women can accomplish as much in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as males. Only they are less interested in these fields, statistically speaking, than their male colleagues, so topics connected to things as opposed to people will remain male dominated, even in an ideal world with no obstacles at all. And that’s a fact. However, it does not tell us anything about a particular individual’s predispositions, so it can’t serve as justification for discrimination.

    The Truth Cannot be Sexist – Steven Pinker on the biology of sex differences


    Equal rights does not imply lack of sex differences.

    • blueice2hotsea

      I agree with your comments and the Pinker video.

      “…they are less interested in these fields, statistically speaking…”

      State or trait?

      Girls mature sooner than boys, physically and socially. This learning readiness advantage over same-aged boys can partially explain a preferential interest in dance lessons and people vs roughhousing and things.

      A good match between individual readiness, pace of instruction and level of difficulty can help make a subject interesting. But math and science in the U.S. are taught at a relatively slow pace. In my experience, students with high potential, especially girls, can find the material too boring, even impossible to understand.

    • blueice2hotsea

      I forgot to mention a bigger problem with the Math and Science curriculum is an emphasis on rote memorization. It turns-off those kids whose preferred cognitive style is thinking. And when thinking is not encouraged in math and science(!?), then our girl prodigies move over to art, music and literature where thinking and feeling are both encouraged.

  31. Congratulations Judith, totally deserved, and BTW you have a very fortunate grand daughter…

  32. blueice2hotsea

    Thanks for this post, JC.

    The U.S. ranks 32 out of 35 OECD countries in mathematics performance. Yet the U.S. also ranks 2nd in education spending (over $29,000/pupil), equal to the per capita GDP of Estonia(!), which ranks 3rd in math performance.

    We focus on small performance differences between boys and girls while ignoring the huge difference in overall ranks (e.g. 32 vs 3). IMO, fix the big problem and the small differences will largely vanish. Yes, I think the boy vs girl gap and the overall performance lag may share a common cause.

  33. blueice2hotsea

    (over $29,000/pupil/yr)

  34. Heather Wilson has an excellent essay in City Journal titled: “#MediocrityToo” that has some interesting observations re. STEM at the end.

  35. This article is a grant representation for the Top 50 Women in STEM education, careers and fields. Bravo on your work. It was a great read.