It’s no secret that the accomplishments of women have long been omitted from the annals of popular history. For centuries, women have found themselves conspicuously absent from male-dominated narratives across a diverse range of histories — including science, medicine, and technology.
The Lost Women of Science podcast, which is supported by funding from the John Templeton Foundation, strives to address this problem by amplifying stories of some of history’s remarkable, forgotten women. Each season focuses on a female scientist who made groundbreaking achievements in her field, yet remains largely unknown to the general public.
The first season, “The Pathologist in the Basement”, includes five episodes that tell the story of Dr. Dorothy Andersen, who was the first physician to identify and study cystic fibrosis. In spite of the significant long-term implications of her work, Dr. Andersen’s story remains largely unknown to the public today — even to some of the scientists who’ve carried on her legacy, including Dr. Francis Collins, the former Director of the National Institutes of Health, 2020 Templeton Prize laureate, and pioneer of cystic fibrosis research.
Dr. Collins is featured on Season One of the Lost Women of Science podcast. Of his initial impressions of Andersen, he says: “I don’t know much about her career, her person, as somebody who must have traveled an interesting journey as a woman working in medical research.” This causes host Katie Hafner to raise a crucial point that undergirds the very premise of Lost Women of Science: “As one of the scientists who isolated the cystic fibrosis gene in 1989, Dr. Collins stood on the shoulders of path-breaking scientists like Dr. Dorothy Andersen. He is also an outspoken champion of women in science. So if he doesn’t know much about her, who does?”
The five podcast episodes strive to paint a full picture of Dr. Andersen’s life and work, including the social and historical conditions of the day, and how they impacted her trajectory as a female scientist.
Ultimately, by illuminating the rich histories of extraordinary, overlooked female scientists, Lost Women of Science seeks to inspire girls and young women to embark on careers in STEM.
Season Two of the podcast will be released in March 2022.