Particle physics is a man’s game, but women are now joining in. The great thing about research is that you don’t know what you’re going to find. Oh, and by the way, they’ve invented the wheel.
Viewers who may have spent the last few decades on Mars should find David Sutherland’s six-part series “Discovering Women” a veritable trove of information about the growing participation of the fair sex (as it used to be called) in the man’s world (as it used to be called) of the sciences. Others, however, may wonder how many times the same road may be traveled, the samecabbage chewed, before even producers sense the cloud of deja vu that hangs over this series.
Each episode focuses on a particular woman who has achieved some degree of recognition against odds primarily (if sometimes questionably) identified as sexist.
Physicist Melissa Franklin is repeatedly told that her chosen field is fraught with violence: atoms to be split, particles that collide, sometimes at all hours of day and night. Biochemist Lynda Jordan “fights for her dream,” rising from her ghetto background to professorial status at a North Carolina university.
At home, Melissa finds solace in her Frank Zappa records, Lynda in her Buddhist disciplines. No effort is spared to present these women (and, presumably, the other four in the rest of the series) as red-blooded, diversely engaged members of the intellectual community. You have to like them; you just wish they’d get on with it. Did someone mention padding?