Review: Lost Women of Science

Review: Lost Women of Science

I took one of my final general education courses in my senior year of college, the “natural sciences” requirement. While most of my theatre classmates tended to take biology I found myself staring down one class that fit into my weird schedule. Intro to Epidemiology. While I firmly believe I might have re-considered my theatre degree had I taken this class in my first year of college - I realize now that my favorite part of the class was the history portion.

Science history is particularly fascinating to me, and Lost Women in Science just hits the spot when my curiosity strays this way. So far, I have only listened to the first and the most recent seasons, and I plan on getting to the in-betweens soon. For podcasts like this, with a few rounded-out seasons, I like to see where they started and where it is now.

Lost Women of Science is a podcast that feels like it started as a personal project and then expanded into what it is now. Not only is this a podcast, but it’s also now a not-for-profit that strives to tell the story of women in science but also serves to inspire girls to embark on careers in STEM. Now distributed by PRX and partnered with Scientific American and Barnard College, this podcast can only be on the upswing.

Our hosts, Katie Hafner and Carol Sutton Lewis bring not only years of experience as women in STEM in their own right, but also a palpable passion to the production. History and science on their own can be difficult, and together it can become even more complex and twisted together rather than knitted. The team at Lost Women of Science does a great job of boiling down to the essentials, which got even better when looking at the first season compared to the most recent. It doesn’t pull punches but also doesn’t expect you to know much about the season’s subject. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but this podcast was able to do that beautifully from the start.

The first season felt like a pilot. Maybe it was a little rough around the edges production-wise, but this was the start of a project that spears through the muck of men in the history of science.  Not only has the production quality improved in an impressive way, but the addition of a cohost elevated the podcast considerably. This podcast jumps between interview snippets and narration. Having this great cohost-dynamic brought this podcast’s overall voice from something used more in a classroom to something more people can listen to while doing chores or during a commute. It made it more approachable not just in the quality of writing and information, but also in overall tone.

I will listen to most of what’s put in front of me, so the subjects for this podcast weren’t necessarily what I was looking for. These were the lost women, I wanted to discover them. For those who may be interested: Subjects of seasons include engineer Yvonne Young Clark, and medical doctor, Dr. Dorothy Anderson, and even more subjects are found in shorts in between seasons. Full seasons sit around five or so episodes, each sitting in the ballpark of 30 or so minutes. Shorts, in between, also give or take 30 minutes.

I’m really looking forward to what this podcast can bring in future seasons and Shorts. We need these stories explored, and told. Little girls can be anything, just like little boys. While I didn’t go into a STEM field, I still love science and discovery. I can also honestly say I’ve used the Pythagorean theorem at work, despite being in “the arts”. You never know where STEM will become STEAM and where a scientist will be an artist, or an artist a scientist. We need the whole picture, and this is a step towards that.

Listen to Lost Women of Science here.

If you like this podcast, consider listening to Significant Others, a podcast that explores the partners who helped people “make it”. More often than not, that unnamed or infrequently named partner is the reason a person of significance “made it”...and often it was a woman. Read my review here.

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