(SNN) - There is a small tempest raging in the media teapot recently concerning an obituary for much decorated Canadian scientist, Yvonne Brill. The Winnipeg-born Brill was lauded first, in a New York Times obit, as a great mom who was a wonderful cook, before they described her professional successes in subsequent paragraphs.
“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,” her son Matthew was quoted as saying in the NYT piece.
Instantly, the Twitterverse went wild with denunciation; claiming the article was sexist. Some suggested if it had been a man, whatever his cooking skills were, they would not have been mentioned in any decent obituary.
Sure, she may have designed the jets that position spacecraft in orbit, but she knew her job didn’t define her totally. It is likely that, as proud she must have been of receiving the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, as well as the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from Barack Obama, making her home happy and healthy was as important to her. No wonder she won the Harper’s Bazaar, De Beers Diamond Superwoman award.
It is unfortunate the Times wilted under the Twitter-scrutiny and changed the first paragraph of the obit, removing the woman’s flair for family, to talk more about her numerous scientific achievements. It is unfortunate they didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to leave the piece untouched. To have accomplished all Brill did while still being a “great mom” makes her not only special, but so very human. That should be exalted most of all.
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