Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

An Evening with Rita Colwell: Science, Sexism, and the Fight Against the Status Quo

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar with microbiologist Rita Colwell in conversation with Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Kirk Johnson, aired December 2, 2020. It was part of the An Evening With series. Watch a recording in the player above.


"If you think sexism only thrives on Wall Street or in Hollywood, you haven’t visited a lab, a science department, a research foundation, or a biotech firm," says scientist Rita Colwell. She is a pioneering microbiologist and the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation, but that status has not made her immune to the entrenched sexism in the field.

In a conversation with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Colwell discusses her new book, A Lab of One's Own: One Woman's Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science, and reflects on her six-decade journey in science, from her start as a graduate student at Purdue University through leading thousands of scientists investigating the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Colwell shares stories from her life, her favorite scientific discoveries, and how she continues to inspire the next generation of barrier-challenging scientists. 

This program was presented in partnership with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

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Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Grade Level
Life Science