WGS.S10 | Fall 2017 | Undergraduate

History of Women in Science and Engineering


Homework Essay #1: Nobel Quotas Assignment

Part 1: Essay

The Nobel Prizes in science have historically been so heavily skewed toward men that some have called for the various Nobel committees to instill quotas ensuring a certain percentage of women receive the prizes. What do you think of this idea? Take a position on this proposition and explain in 2–3 pages why you do or do not think the Nobels should implement quotas to improve the gender balance of winners. This will be graded.

Part 2: Class Participation

Select one woman from the McGrayne book other than Marie Curie or Chien-Shiung Wu to present to the class. Presentations should be no more than a few minutes and convey the essential information about each woman, what she is best known for, and her connection to the Nobels. You may use a PowerPoint to convey your presentation if you like, but simple oral presentations are fine as well. Will not be graded but will count toward class participation. 

Homework Essay #2:  Letters to College President(s) on Women in Engineering

Write a recommendation letter to one or more presidents of top American engineering schools — could be President Reif, MIT President, could be a bunch of presidents collectively, up to you: Citing examples of discrimination faced by women engineers in the past century, set forth a few suggested ways to improve gender and cultural diversity within higher education engineering programs. Should be 2–3 pages, double spaced.

Midterm Paper

Write an in-depth biography (5–7 pages) of an individual woman or group of women that we’ve discussed, read about, or mentioned from the first six classes. You will need to present your work to the class; PowerPoint-style presentations are recommended. Also, before you begin, you will give a “lightning summary” of your person/people in 60 seconds.

Wikipedia Article

Write a new article about any woman in science or engineering — or a subject directly related to women in STEM. We will work on these together in class first, and I will provide hands-on help for those who do not know how to edit Wikipedia already. Once I receive your first drafts I will provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the page; after you submit your final drafts I will provide explicit instructions on how to make the pages live on Wikipedia. To prepare, please review: a) SciAm article on countering trolls with more articles about women in STEM; b) a tutorial on how to edit Wikipedia; c) Wikipedia markup cheatsheet document; and d) an example of an exemplar article for you to aim toward for your projects that you will start in class. Your articles don’t have to be quite as long as the exemplar article, but all of the essential elements should be there.

Final Project

Craft a final project that demonstrates your deep understanding of a subject that we either learned in class or that you want to know more about. Format is up to the student. Multimedia projects are highly encouraged, but essays are also OK (written finals should be 10–15 pages). In advance of the final, please make sure I receive a 0.5–1-page description of your planned project; I will want to schedule 15–20 minute sessions with each student to review your plan and make sure you’re on track for a successful final project.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2017
Learning Resource Types
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights