Snow days in February are made for TV and movie binge watching, a great way to relax and kick back on a bonus day off. During my recent snow day, I watched a couple of movies that were recommended to me. The first movie I watched was Hidden Figures, a biographical drama about three African American mathematicians (Creola Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Johnson Vaughan) who worked at NASA. They each played a vital role in the Space Race before this movie was virtually unknown. The second movie, The Wife, is a fiction drama film about a college student who married her professor, a famous novelist. She was a talented writer herself who was dismissed for being female. She spent most of her life writing and rewriting her husband’s unimpressive work. He ended up winning the Nobel Prize for her work. Although this film was fiction and Hidden Figures was a true story, both had a common thread; it is a gentle reminder of how a lot of women’s work goes uncredited.
After watching these two films, I was curious about how many more women did great things and did not get the credit where credit was due. Immediately, I started discovering amazing women who did groundbreaking work and never received the appropriate credit for their accomplishments and whose names are virtually unknown.
One current example that frustrated me was a recent news report I watched about the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The head data scientist, Beth Blauer who created this main COVID-19 data tracking dashboard is a woman, but there was no mention of her name in the headline. “As U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 500,000, leaders learn to make better, data-driven decisions. CBS News lead national correspondent David Begnaud spoke with Johns Hopkins’ head data scientist, who created one of the world’s most premier coronavirus data tracking dashboards” (CBS, 2021). Why not include her name in the headline? Her name was not even posted on the screen as they interviewed her. Why? Her hard work and efforts should be recognized just as much as a male’s would. I had to google her just to get the correct spelling of her name along with an in-depth search to find details of her accomplishments and her work. This resource center is the premier source of Coronavirus data globally, with over a billion page views. The dashboard is run mostly by women and moms from their homes. The website was named TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020 for Go-To-Data -Source (Korn, 2020). “If you’ve ever consulted a COVID-19 hot-spot map or noted the infection figures on the cable news crawl, you may have the experts at Johns Hopkins University to thank. It’s the Coronavirus Resource Center is the de facto clearinghouse for pandemic stats. The center’s data has been downloaded billions of times, helping governments to decide where to dispatch resources and when to reopen—and individuals to suss out the safety of hosting a socially distant backyard barbecue” (Korn, 2020).
Beth Blauer deserves to have proper recognition. She is the Executive Director and founder of the Center for Government Excellence and Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins University and the scientist interviewed for this news report. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts and holds a JD from New York Law School. She has spent the last year as the lead team data scientist working on the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center website. She and her team work hard collecting and organizing data that contributes to the decisions made regarding COVID-19 with the goal of supplying policy makers with the most accurate information possible. So why leave her name out of the headline? Why wasn’t her name and title posted on the screen while she we being interviewed? We should all know her name. In years from now, it should not take a movie about Coronavirus for us all to know who the amazing women were working on the front line of the Coronavirus task force to get the credit and acknowledgement they deserve.
Thank you, Beth Blauer and your amazing team for helping keep us informed and safe.
CBS. As U.S. COVID-19 deaths top 500,000, leaders learn to make better, data-driven decisions [Video file]. (2021, February 23). Retrieved fromhttps://www.cbsnews.com/video/as-us-covid-19-deaths-top-500000-leaders-learn-to-make-better-data-driven-decisions/#x
Korn, M. (2020, November 19). John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center: The 100 Best Inventions of 2020. TIME. https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2020/5911434/johns-hopkins-coronavirus-resource-center/