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Film Finders: Exploring Special Topics: Women in Science

Women in Science


Web version of Women in Science exhibit poster

This year’s First Year Common Reader selection, Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, has inspired the Film & Video Collection to present a visual exhibit focusing on Women in Science. These documentaries and feature films women tell the stories of women who have made extraordinary discoveries and contributions in mathematics, biology, computer science, primatology, chemistry and animal husbandry.

Located on the lower level of Morris Library, the Film & Video Collection provides access to these and other science-related titles in Blu-ray, DVD, and eVideo formats. Browse select titles below.

Photo of Women in Science display case, with DVD covers and science-related paraphernalia.

Temple Grandin

An engaging portrait of an autistic young woman who became, through timely mentoring and sheer force of will, one of America's most remarkable success stories as a leader in the field of animal husbandry and the humane handling of cattle.

Temple Grandin, DVD 7937

At the Gates of Autism: Emerging into Life, DVD 2277

picture of a seatedTemple Grandin in a cow pen with two cows

Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey holding a camera, sitting next to two gorillas

Dian Fossey is widely celebrated for saving mountain gorillas from extinction. Her pioneering life was complex, and her enemies were rife. In 1985, Fossey was brutally slain in her remote mountain cabin.

Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist, DVD 19885

Gorillas In the Mist, DVD 19882

Lynn Margulis

A model of female empowerment, scientist Lynn Margulis fought the male establishment and, through her persistence, triumphed. As a young scientist in the 1960s, Margulis was ridiculed when she articulated a theory that symbiosis was a key driver of evolution. Instead of the mechanistic view that life evolved solely through random genetic mutations and competition, she presented a symbiotic narrative in which bacteria joined together to create the complex cells that formed animals, plants, and all other organisms. The idea that all of life is deeply interconnected and collaborative has radical implications for how we look at our selves, evolution, and the environment.

Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started a Scientific Revolution

DVD 19838

Hidden Figures

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Hidden Figures, DVD 18738; HDDVD 494

Ellen Swallow Richards

picture of Ellen Swallow Richards

The story of the first woman to enter the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a student and ultimately became it's first woman professor. Uses historic photographs, interviews with historians, and narrative to show Richards' tireless efforts to improve the quality of life. Richards was a world-renowned expert in water quality testing and provided much of the early 20th century writing in nutrition. She founded the American Home Economics Association in 1909 (now called the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) and served as the first president.

The Life and Legacy of Ellen Swallow Richards, DVD 3902

Hedy Lamarr

picture of Hedy Lamar

What do the most ravishingly beautiful actress of the 1930s and '40s and the inventor whose concepts were the basis of cell phone and Bluetooth technology have in common? They are both Hedy Lamarr, the glamour icon whose ravishing visage was the inspiration for Snow White and Cat Woman and a technological trailblazer who perfected a radio system to throw Nazi torpedoes off course during WWII. Bombshell, DVD 19610; streaming

Marian Diamond

picture of Marian Diamond next to a model of a brain

As one of the founders of modern neuroscience, it's no exaggeration to say that Dr. Marian Diamond changed science, and society at large, in dramatic ways over the course of her career. Enrichment, plasticity--capabilities of the brain we now take for granted--were the scientific battleground where she decisively challenged the old view and changed forever our understanding of the brain. Her groundbreaking work is all the more remarkable because it began during an era when so few women entered science at all. Shouted at from the back of the conference hall by noteworthy male academics as she presented her research, and disparaged in the scientific journals of a more conservative era, Dr. Diamond simply did the work and followed where her curiosity led her, bringing about a paradigm shift (or two) in the process.

My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond,

DVD 18499; streaming

Great Unsung Women of Computing

Great Unsung Women of Computing DVD cover

A series of three short documentary films that show how women revolutionized the computing and Internet technology we use today, inspiring female students to believe that programming careers lie within their grasp. 
The Computers features the extraordinary story of the ENIAC programmers, six young women who programmed the world's first modern, programmable computer, ENIAC, as part of a secret WWII project. The Coders tells the story of two women, Sarah Allen and Pavni Diwanji, whose technologies revolutionized the Internet with their work on the invention of Flash and Java. In The Future Makers, Andrea Colac╠žo, who invented 3D "gestural recognition technology" and co-founded 3dim to develop and market it, shares her dream of a world in which we interact with our smart devices using natural hand gestures, not static keyboards or touchpads.

Great Unsung Women of Computing: The Computers, The Coders, and The Future Makers, DVD 19295

Jane Goodall

picture of Jane Goodall

Looks back at Jane Goodall's career as a primatologist, animal rights advocate, and environmental activist. Comprised of present-day interview segments with Goodall and archival footage of her work studying chimpanzees at Tanzania's Gombe National Park shot by Hugo van Lawick in the 1960s for National Geographic.

Jane, DVD 19883

Marie Curie

picture of Marie Curie

In an era when women were allowed to be ornaments, mothers or drudges, young Marie Sklodowska of Poland dreamed of something more. She defied convention to study physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne and, with Pierre Curie, the professor who became her husband, to make one of the greatest breakthroughs in 20th-century science.