The beauty of forensics aka the feminine side of science .

Being a scientist requires almost a super-human alertness that is built over time spent in labs, in libraries, in book stores searching for the one missing ingredient or an element to the puzzles called research or randomized trials.

The discipline of forensic science plays a salient role in criminal justice, first and foremost, but also as many TV shows and television programs confirm, the great advances are shared in podcasts and the largest productions that feed the hungry fans with true crime and investigations’ feast. Due to the popularity of such shows, there is a growing interest to study and learn more about forensic sciences amongst students, academics, researchers and professionals. Is there a new trend called forensics? Well, let’s take a look at the career path as forensics appear to be particularly appealing for women whose numbers greatly exceed men's in the field. This might be the outcome of the historical impact that many influential women made in forensic science.

The godmother and the pioneering feminine mind of forensics in the USA was Frances Glessner Lee who used the feminine art of miniatures in an unconventional way to recreate 20 real crime scenes in a mini format that can be compared to a dollhouse model that could serve the need of the actual training of crime investigators. Frances by helping to revolutionize the training approach amongst police forces, this heroine became the celebrity of criminology of her times. Another famous figure, known as the “bone woman” based on the title of her book, Clea Koff greatly contributed to the actual process of identification of victims from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo for the Rwanda Genocide. Another incredible person that makes all women proud to be the representatives of the female sex is Laura Pettler whose contribution to the crime scene and domestic violence is truly outstanding what can be seen through her direct impact on the rationale behind founding an institute that centres its attention on victim-focused scientific death investigations.

Another feminine talent is vividly present in the USA, a medical examiner and a protagonist of “Dr.G.”, a TV show, Jan Carla Garavaglia who takes a surprisingly fresh approach towards investigations. On the other side of the world, in Palestine, Hafsa Salameh is the pioneer of women work in forensic sciences at the NCFM, National Centre for Forensic Medicine that was being established in her home country in 2017 and a proud promoter of women confidence in studying and pursuing a career in forensics. Around 3,500km away, in Kenya to be exact, another heroine feminine marking the significance of forensics on the map of science by working in police and being the only female police surgeon in Kenya and also a director of an association against sexual assault and child abuse, VunjaKimya Foundation.

Porntip Rojanasunan is the Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice in Bangkok. Her incredibly innovative contribution is the introduction of DNA typing in Thailand and as a pathologist actively contributed to the identification of Tsunami victims.

Marcella Farinelli Fierro, former Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and consultant for the National Crime Information Center inspired “Kay Scarpetta” the protagonist of Patricia Cornwell crime novels.

Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist and professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She collaborated with the FBI, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and with the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Medecine Legale for the province of Quebec and contributed to the identification of World War II and World Trade Center remains. She has transferred her casework experience into her forensic thrillers and has become a famous crime writer.

Why forensic sciences appear to be so appealing to women?

Women are also more detail orientated, which comes in handy when matching up fingerprints or comparing striations on bullets”, says Potter (2008).

“Women prefer to work with organic and living things while men choose to work with inorganic materials”, shares Houck (2009).

In addition to the heritage that presents many women who chose to be part of the forensic science arena, some well-known associations promote female contribution to forensics and encourage more influential works in the future project yet to come.

Founded in 2011 in Italy, the Worldwide Association of Women Forensic Experts (WAWFE) is a multi-disciplinary association with the focus on making connections amongst women working worldwide in various forensic fields, public or private institutions, to promote the advancement and recognition of the role of women in the international forensics and to enable the exchange of information and experience between forensic professionals, experts, academics.

A year earlier, in 2010, Antoinette Campbell set up the Association of Women in Forensic Science (AWIFS) in the USA. This non-profit body focuses on supporting female students and professionals to pursue a career in forensic science. The aim is “the inclusion, advancement, and recognition of women as members of the forensic science community with a focus on bringing women in science together to ‘Network &Inspire’.

Women In Technology International (WITI) was founded in 1989 as The International Network of Women in Technology and then in 2001, it evolved into “The WITI Professional Association”. It aims to connect female professionals and to favourite women advance in all sectors of technology. In particular “WITI's mission is to empower women worldwide to achieve unimagined possibilities and transformations through technology, leadership and economic prosperity”.

Founded in 1971, The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is an international network, that looks into providing research and solutions for the professional advancement of women in STEM. AWIS is “dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors”. AWIS works with institutions, pharmaceutical companies and other professional organizations to advance forensic science and women impact on the field.

The forensic science field with all its complexity and beauty of this myriad of scientific approaches investigated through the prisms of biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, law, policing and communications continues to play a critical part in criminology but also day to day life.

Forensics to be extremely basic in its translation is about accuracy, integrity, consistency, sharpness and fairness as well as a high level of education, strong mind and willingness to dedicate many long hours.

There are many courses, training, work-based placements and studentships in the field of forensic science if this is appealing, head to our education section and discover the world of possibilities.