Female Geek Heroes

Boudica and Her Daughters statue near Westminster Pier, London, commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft.
© Copyright Oxyman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Sally Ride, the first US woman to go in to space, died at the end of July this year after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61. Her name being in the news reminded about why I started this blog. In part it was to speak up for those of us women who appreciate things that are supposed to be the interest of men. Space travel, science, math, science fiction, video games, fantasy books, all these are things women and girls aren’t supposed to like. But yet, here we are. I thought I would highlight a few women who have inspired the rest of us throughout history.

Sally Ride

Sally Ride was an astronaut, the first woman in space. NASA, from its inception, was a boys club. I don’t doubt that The Right Stuff was an exaggeration at all. Yet she broke the barrier, made it in, and made it to space.

Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree.

Dian Fossey

An American zoologist who studied gorillas in the jungles of Africa. She was famously portrayed by Sigourney Weaver in the movie, Gorillas in the Mist. Sadly, she was murdered in 1985, possibly by poachers she tried to protect the gorillas from. The case remains open.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is a British scientist, considered by most to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni

There’s several different spellings of Boudica’s name, but her history is this: In the mid 1st century A.D. Queen Boudica lead an uprising against the Roman empire. Unfortunately, she lost, but her memory lives on to inspire other women to fight on even when the odds are against you.

Ada Byron

Daughter of the poet Lord Byron and born in the early 19th century, Ada was the world’s first computer programmer. No, really.

Felicia Day

The geek woman, though in pop culture. Created, writes, and stars in the web series The Guild, and created her own Geek video channel, Geek & Sundry. Now, I am by no means saying that Felicia Day’s accomplishments are the same as the other women on this list. Yes it’s awesome that she’s done well for herself, but as awesome as that is, she’s not curing cancer, and I’m sure even she would agree on that count.

There are many, many other women out there that inspire the rest of us every day. It’s important to remember that there are many sources of inspiration and that we should continue to encourage women and girls to not let anyone tell them they can’t do something just because of their chromosomes.

What woman, living or dead, inspires you?

Pain, Pain Go Away

Wong Baker Pain Scale

I have talked a bit here about how OAGD was delayed due to pain issues I had last fall. Correction. Continue to have. Last October I woke up in the middle of the night with a thigh cramp. I jumped out of bed to stretch and in the process caused a disc in my neck to bulge and hit a nerve. Likely it was already bulging and the quick jump up just sealed the deal.

At first, and for a few months afterwards, I was in searing pain all the time. Narcotic pain relievers do nothing for me. The only thing that worked, really, was ibuprofen, and I was taking 800 mg of that 3 times a day. Even so, that only took the edge off. I stopped taking it regularly in January as it can mess up your stomach if you take it long term. My pain is still present, though not as intense, and most days I don’t take anything for it. I have seen a few doctors, am in my third round of physical therapy, and am trying acupuncture. So far, nothing is working. If you have experienced chronic pain, you know my frustrations. If you haven’t, I hope you never do. It’s a constant thing that never leaves you and people don’t believe you, including sometimes people that are close to you and your doctors. Imagine being in pain 24 hours a day and your doctor thinks you’re just trying to get drugs out of him. Frustrating, no?

But my point here is not to complain and whine about my pain problems. There’s been a study done on chronic pain. And it’s shown that there’s something different in the brain of people who experience chronic pain over those who have similar injuries and who’s pain goes away. The proximity of two regions in the brain basically train the brain to feel pain. Which goes along with my personal theory that pain begets pain – the more pain you are in, the more pain you will be in, it’s like it feeds off itself and if the cycle of pain is not interrupted, it will simply continue.

So what does that mean for pain sufferers? Well for chronic pain sufferers, not much at the moment. But it does mean that Science has not forgotten us and that they are researching ways to hopefully, eventually, make things better.