Three American girls took home first-place prizes (each in their respective age categories) at the prestigious Google Science Fair this year. Shree Bose, a seventeen-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, took home the grand prize for her research into maintaining the efficacy of a common drug used to treat ovarian cancer. She won 50,000 dollars to go towards her college education, as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands and to Switzerland.
Naomi Shah of Portland, Oregon won first prize in her age group for research into air quality and its effects on asthmatics. Lauren Hodge of Dallastown, Pennsylvania won first prize in the youngest age group for her research into whether marinades reduce the carcinogens produced by grilling meat. (Lemon and brown sugar actually reduce the carcinogens, while soy sauce increases them.)
The girls' victories are an important reflection of the shifting dominance in the hard sciences. In fields where, historically, women were marginally, if at all, represented, they are now contributing in numbers equal to or greater than those of men. We're passing from a time when a story like this would have been impossible to a time where it's possible, but anomalous and newsworthy. Soon, women's success in the sciences will be so common that it won't even be news anymore.
Take that, Larry Summers.