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Team Aleteia



These amateur detectives identified a mystery woman from 1971


Without their motivation, she may never have been given credit for her accomplishments.

The world of science has long been dominated by men, so when Candance Jean Anderson found a group photo from the 1971 International Conference on Biology of Whales, she wanted to know who the lone woman in the group could be. But, though the articles recording the events named every man in the photo, the woman was marked as “not identified.”

But Candance couldn’t solve the mystery alone. So she took to Twitter to find some helpers, and people were more than eager to help her solve the mystery.

After tracking down conference proceedings, a few false leads, the coordinator of the event, and some of the men in the photo, the evidence seemed to suggest that the mystery woman had worked as an administrator at the conference.

Meanwhile another Twitter user reached out to someone from the Smithsonian who identified the woman as Sheila Jones Minor.

Candace managed to track down Sheila herself, who confirmed herself in the photo at the conference in 1971. But that wasn’t the best part. The woman that some of the men had remembered as some kind of administrator was, in fact, much more.

A biological research technician at the Smithsonian, Sheila held a Master of Science degree from George Mason University and contributed to several conferences throughout her career, as well as serving for federal agencies for 35 years and standing on the Smithsonian Women’s Council and the American Society of Mammalogists.

In the end, Sheila’s story wasn’t too difficult to find. It just required attentive and inquisitive people who cared that no one be overlooked.

Candace said she hopes that all who participated in and followed along their investigation were inspired by the women they came across who trailblazed their way through the world of science.

Read more: New study finds the missing link between women and science

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