Ruth Hubbard, Professor Emerita of Biology at Harvard University, was born in Austria and escaped Nazism as a teenager. She and her family moved to the Boston area, where she started her career as a biologist. From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, she made important contributions to the understanding of the biochemistry and photochemistry of vertebrates and invertebrates. In 1967, she won the Paul Karrer Medal with her husband, George Wald, for their work in this area. Ruth Hubbard was the first woman to be awarded a tenured biology professorship at Harvard University.
Ruth Hubbard is best known for her brilliant and courageous challenges to colleagues who promote sociobiology. The distinguished geneticist Richard Lewontin says, “No one has been a more influential critic of the biological theory of women’s inequality than Ruth Hubbard.” Hubbard has written several books and articles for both scholarly journals and popular magazines on these issues. She has encouraged other scientists to question the validity of their profession’s paradigms regarding gender issues. Her excellent grounding in the technical, philosophical, and sociological aspects of biology have compelled her colleagues to question their assumptions and even rethink their theories. Ruth Hubbard not only encourages female peers to move ahead in their careers, but has inspired laywomen to become scientifically literate.
—Courtesy of WITI
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