Do you know what the Matilda effect is?

Imagine yourself in a time when the participation of women in many areas of daily life is prohibited. Imagine that Despite the restrictions that women live, they still decide to develop scientific research and contribute new knowledge.

Despite the importance of the contributions, the names of the women scientists do not appear, but rather those of their laboratory colleagues or their husbands, and all production is attributed to men.

That’s him beginning of a fight for equality, at least in the scientific world, what did he undertake Matilda Joslyn Gage in her work Woman as an Inventor, through which she described the disadvantaged situation of women who were dedicated to science.

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The Matilda Effect: Origins

Gage was a New York-born activist who fought for the female vote; in addition to being an abolitionist and fruitful author.

But the term Matilda effect was brought up by science historian Margaret W. Rossiter in 1993. Rossiter offers a list of women’s names who have made significant contributions to humanity.

These women, throughout history, have generated new knowledge and have been part of the improvement in the application of science in medical, biological, pharmaceutical, etc.

And, despite being characters relevant to the development of researchThey were in the shadow of the men who could well have been their romantic partners, lab partners or who contributed in minor aspects of the research work.

Margaret W. Rossiter denounced the cases that occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries in his publication entitled The Matthew / Matilda Effect in Science, and he used the term Matilda effect in reference to the Matthew effect, which is that a well-known scientist receives more credit than a new or less well-known researcher in that field.

A hermetic and competitive world

In the world of science, specifically in the field of scientific research, the details of the relationships between researchers, professional jealousy, the secrets that are considered to be kept because they are susceptible to plagiarism, and many other resentments, they are very frequent but little known.

In the publication of a paper in a recognized and indexed scientific journal, the amount of impediments, difficulties and even tricks that may exist is unknown, since the impact that this publication may have is unpredictable.

This impact will depend on the topic, the level of the journal in which it is published, the novelty of the contribution, the significance of this new knowledge, the citations it generates among the scientific community. and the benefits that arise for the authors.

Hence that many scientists fight for their names to appear at the top of the list of researchers that make up the team, because that location makes them leaders.

It would not be unreasonable for the Matilda effect to be maintained in the scientific field today, considering that access to resources is limited, that it is not easy to have a reputation or gain international recognition.

None of the scientific researchers today wants to suffer the Matthew effect or the Matilda effect, since I would be accepting an impairment condition, or worse, consenting to a condition of disadvantage and exclusion, which it would be affecting his reputation and his scientific career.

Discriminated against women who suffered the Matilda effect

The names that were excluded or overshadowed are known some, and others not so much, precisely due to the prejudice that they lived at the time and the doubts that prevailed when considering that women could not be behind great inventions, discoveries or scientific developments.

The list that Margaret W. Rossiter published and that make up some of the cases of the Matilda effect, could be assumed to constitute a part of the number of cases that must exist throughout history.

  • Trotula of Salerno was a doctor born in Italy, the author of works that were relevant to the development of 12th century medicine and that after her death, the authorship of her works was assigned to men.

Trotula of Salerno

  • Nettie stevens It is a name that the scientific community cannot relegate, because it discovered the XY system of chromosomes with which the sex of an individual is determined. His studies, made with mealworms, “proved for the first time that the sex of an organism is determined by its chromosomes.” However, at the time, the late nineteenth century, his discovery was credited to the geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan.

Nettie stevens

  • Marthe Gautier investigated to detect the chromosomal abnormality responsible for Down syndrome, but the scientific community attributed that discovery to Jérôme Lejeune.
  • Rosalind franklin She was the main collaborator of one of the most significant discoveries of genetics, such as that of the structure of DNA, her participation was decisive in the scientific works of the double helix, but her name suffered the Matilda effect, as it was overshadowed by those of his colleagues Francis Crick and James Watson, who were awarded the Nobel.

Rosalind franklin

  • Marian diamond was an American scientist who was a forerunner of modern neuroscience, who together with her research team discovered neuroplasticity. However, when his article was going to be published, he realized that the names of his colleagues David Krech and Mark Rosenzweig, had been placed before his, prompting a protest that forced scientists to reverse this fact, with which his name was placed first.
  • Gerty cori, a Czech scientist, was the third woman in the world to receive a Nobel Prize in Science, and is the first woman in the world to win the Nobel Prize in the area of ​​Physiology or Medicine. However, for years she remained as an assistant to her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori.

Gerty cori

  • Mary Whiton Calkins, American philosopher and psychologist, she also appears on the list of women who have suffered the Matilda effect. Their work concluded that “stimuli that were combined with other vivid stimuli fixate more easily in memory.” But both these and other discoveries of his authorship in the same area, were used by Georg Elias Müller and Edward B. Titchener, and neither of them mentioned or gave credit to Calkins.

Mary Whiton Calkins

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