SCIENCE + WOMEN: Throughout her career, Wertheim has been a pioneer in writing about and communicating STEM subjects to women. Her Crochet Coral Reef project, created with her twin-sister Christine, is now the largest participatory art & science endeavor in the world and brings together a unique mix of mathematics, environmental science, community practice and feminism. 10,000 women in a dozen countries have participated in the project, and Crochet Reef exhibitions have been seen by over two million people at venues including the Hayward Gallery (London) and the Smithsonian (Washington D.C.) Rarely has a science outreach endeavor reached so many women: participants include mathematicians, housewives, fisherwomen, crafters, women in shelters, and prisoners. Harvard scholar Sophia Roosth has called the Crochet Reef "a culturally meaningful material thing" exemplifying the power of collective creativity.
Wertheim's interest in gender and science led her to write her ground-breaking book Pythagoras Trousers (1995), a history of the relationship between physics and religion that also explores how this entanglement has acted as a barrier to women. Susan Faludi hailed it as "a rare and welcome mix in science writing ... fueled with that rarest of ingredients in this genre, a deeply felt moral and feminist passion." Wertheim has written on women & science for the New York Times, Aeon and elsewhere. For 10 years in her native Australia, she wrote monthly columns about science and tech for women’s magazines including Vogue Australia and Australian Elle, and may be the only journalist in the world to have held such a position. Her commitment to equity led her to conceive and write a six-part television science series aimed at teenage girls for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Titled Catalyst (ABC 1990), the series remains a landmark in TV science programming. More than 20 years before The Big Bang, Wertheim's series demonstrated STEM principles via activities designed to appeal to girls – mathematical patterns in pantyhose, electric motors in a hair-dryer.
Wertheim's work on science and gender aims to help illuminate the obstacles women face to full participation in STEM fields, while also celebrating science and math as domains of wonder to which women can have access, often through methodologies and subjects neglected by canonical forms of science outreach and journalism. Margaret is available to speak about these issues; please be in touch via the Contact page.
SELECTED INTERVIEWS AND ESSAYS ABOUT WOMEN AND SCIENCE
New York Times - Essay: "Numbers Are Male, Said Pythagoras, and the Idea Persists
Aeon – Essay: "The Sexism Problem in Science"
The Monthly - Essay: "The Science Question and Feminism"
Vogue Australia column - "Falling for the Stars" - on Dr Sandra Faber's discovery that galactic motion suggests cosmic dark matter
Vogue Australia column - "The Measure of all Things" - why measuring matters
Vogue Australia column - "Virgin Birds" - the Christ scenario may not be possible in humans, but it does happen in birds, including the Christmas turkey
Vogue Australia column - "This Mortal Toil" - how can we protect people in the future from toxic nuclear waste sites?
Vogue Australia column - "Molecular Revolution" - how Darwinian chemistry is creating radical new drugs and medications
Vogue Australia column - "Life's Printout" - on the computational revolution of "artificial life"
Vogue Australia column - "Bacterial Feedback" - what we can learn from bacteria
Vogue Australia column - "Geneticide" - are we breeding too many bad genes in ourselves?