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Coming Out in the Sciences: After 50 Years in the Lab

Coming Out in the Sciences: Part I—After 50 Years in the Lab, a Reproduction Expert Leaves the Closet

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 9:00 AM Monday, Oct 11, 2010

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Story and interview by Steve Silberman

Neena Schwartz is a legend in reproductive biology. A trailblazing endocrinologist, she helped map the pathways of communication between the brain and the reproductive organs, uncovering the crucial role of a hormone called inhibin in regulating ovulation. She has also been one of the most outspoken advocates for women at the lab bench, co-founding the Association of Women in Science in 1971, fighting for equality in the face of pervasive old boys’ networks, and mentoring generations of scientists at Northwestern University.

Throughout this distinguished career, however, Schwartz has borne the burden of a secret—she’s gay. […] Now retired, Schwartz explains in the book that she is coming out with the hope that her story will “provide young gay scientists or other professionals with a lesson of possibilities for success and happiness without such splits in their lives.”

An interesting story of feminism in the world of science in the 1970s.