Friday, September 05, 2008

Help Needed: Cartoons Portraying Women Scientists?

I got the following request for information from Brita, who is looking for cartoons to illustrate class handouts:

As a new biology teacher certification candidate, I was sad to see my class syllabus covered in cartoons portraying male scientists. I'm having a hard time finding ones with women in the lab coats that aren't hugely offensive. Any recommendations of where to look for some showing us working hard?
She's checked out PhD Comics, but that is more about grad school angst than women working as scientists. What she's looking for is along the lines of cartoons with scientists who happen to be women, rather than jokes about dating or other "female" topics. I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Do any of you readers have suggestions?
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Anonymous said...

xkcd has some:
for example
you'd have to wade through the archives to find others

Anonymous said...

Try American Scientist, published by Sigma Xi. Their cartoons fairly regularly have women scientists in them.

Anonymous said...

Poking through xkcd as per anonymous' suggestion:

second panel in this
large hadron collider

Richard Crawford said...

I can't think of any specific examples off the top of my head, but I strongly recommend she look for cartoons by Sidney Harris. His female scientists are usually pretty fairly presented.

I want to say that Gary Larson might be a source as well, but my brain is freezing on me trying to come up with specifics.

Heather said...

I would second American Scientist. Through them, I found Benita Epstein
( and ...
and she trained as an entomologist!

Being a biologist, I am also partial to Sidney Harris' cartoons, of which there is an approximately equal number of men and women scientists -

Alas, can't come up with any non-white or -Asian-looking scientists.

Peggy K said...

Some great suggestions, thanks all!

Just to linkify some of them:

Benita Epstein cartoons

Sidney Harris' Science Cartoons Plus

American Scientist's Review of Benita Epstein's "Science of Little Round Things ", with good sample cartoon. And if you could find a copy of Epstein's book, there are probably lots more.

I paged through the past few issues of American Scientist, and didn't find many cartoons that specifically met the criteria. Unfortunately they aren't online.

Richard: I would have thought Gary Larson would be a good choice, but I looked through "Prehistory of the Far Side" and I only found one cartoon that depicted a woman scientists. Maybe there's better representation in one of his other collections.

Alethea: Yup, the depicted scientists aren't only usually male, but almost always white too.

Anonymous said...

Now that you mention it, I've been doing a number of cartoons featuring women scientists for years. Here's an example of such:

E-mail me at if you need more info from me on the matter.

Peggy K said...

Thanks for the link Yul!

Patchi said...

I just came across this one and thought to add it to your list:

Yul Tolbert said...

I changed the web address for my web comic featuring women scientists to: