How to write about scientists who are women

The "Finkbeiner Test," created in 2013 by science writers Ann Finkbeiner and Christie Aschwanden, challenges science writers who are profiling scientists who happen to be women to write about them without mentioning their gender, childcare arrangements, husband's occupation, etc.

The test especially emphasizes not making women scientists out to be trailblazers because of their gender (rather than their science), their status as first to win some award (which says more about the award's problems than their virtues), their nurturing of lab assistants or shock at the competitiveness of their field.

"I've been doing this science writing business for a long time, and I have done many profiles of both men and women scientists, and honestly, none of those things are all that unusual," she said. "They're all normal human beings and the thing that makes them so interesting is the science. So, if you want to humanize them, talk about their motivations. Talk about how they got interested in their field. Talk about the part of their life that led them to become such an interesting scientist—because childcare is not interesting."

As for examples of outlets that are covering gender issues in the right way, there's the site where Aschwanden proposed the Finkbeiner Test, Double X Science, whose goal is to "to bring evidence-based science stories and angles on science specifically of interest to the female-gendered audience."

The Finkbeiner Test
[Christie Aschwanden, Double X Science]

'The Finkbeiner Test'
[Curtis Brainard/Columbia Journalism Review]

(via Kottke)

(Image: Pierre and Marie Curie in the laboratory