As revealed in Alice Calaprice‘s Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children, the eponymous genius (which is to say, his name is on the book and has become a synonym for genius itself) had some pretty awesome views on gender’s relationship to the study of science, which is to say: it doesn’t matter.
Among the children with whom he exchanged correspondence is Tyfanny, of South Africa, who seemed a bit worried when she wrote him a second time to say:
I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact.
Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to b e a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!
Despite being, in 1946, at “the height of his career and cultural prominence,” he wrote back simply:
I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.
A pretty smart thing to say, in my opinion. Certainly better than Stephen Hawking’s attempt to make humor out of the idea that the only thing he struggles to understand is the 50% of the human population with a single chromosome difference from him. Which, as a joke, would be funny coming out of the mouth of anyone but the man famous for being the most intelligent person living on this planet. Women! We’re not quantum physics, just regular people. But I’m getting off topic and a little snarky.
Hooray for Dr. Albert Einstein, and for Tyfanny, who I hope grew up to be whatever she wanted to be.