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New Ruth Bader Ginsburg insect is a huge win for gender equality

I don’t know if Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ever thought about what her spirit animal should be, but now she has an excellent reason to pick a praying mantis. Scientists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History recently came upon a new female species of praying mantis, and have decided to name her after the tenacious Ginsburg in honor of her tireless fight for gender equality.

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The discovery was made while the scientists in question were exploring another pretty interesting discovery — they found that identifying female genitalia is just as useful in differentiating praying mantises as identifying male genitalia. According to their published announcement, “The research is the first formal study to use female genital structures to delimit a new species of praying mantis.” As such, they thought it only right that the first new female to be identified with this method be named after another female pioneer — the aforementioned Judge Ginsburg. The new species’ full, scientific name is iIlomantis ginsburgae, and is native to Madagascar.

So, why Ruth Bader Ginsburg (or RGins as I like to call her), and not some other feminist icon? For two reasons — one, Ginsburg has been an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights for as long as she’s been old enough to advocate, and two, the lace collar she always wears looks an awful lot like the new praying mantis’ neck plate.

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikimedia

I mean, they could be sisters, right? While I’m thrilled for Judge Ginsburg who has now officially achieved the highest honor imaginable — representing an entire species of bug — she would want me to remind you that the bigger message here is rooted in equality.

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“As a feminist biologist, I often questioned why female specimens weren’t used to diagnose most species,” said Brannoch to MSNBC. “It is my hope that our work not only sets a precedent in taxonomy but also underscores the need for scientists to investigate and equally consider both sexes in other scientific investigations.” Females have just as much (if not more) to teach us as males do, and it’s high time we give them equal consideration.

Women bring a unique view on science to the table. It’s time that we not only start understanding the importance of female specimens in the scientific community, but also the need for more female scientists in the field. As women continue to make scientific breakthroughs like this new insect species, young girls around the world will be inspired to pursue careers in STEM fields as well. So thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for always fighting for us females, human and praying mantis alike. Your name will hopefully inspire as much change in the scientific world as it has in the political world.

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