Temple Grandin, or ‘the cattle lady,’ is a Colorado State University professor of animal sciences and spokesperson for autism. Prof Grandin is one of 10 women to be named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame for 2017.
The organisation describes the inductees’ work as having changed the course of human history. Grandin has been a professor of animal sciences for more than 20 years, and her contributions to the livestock industry include methods of humane slaughter that are now an industry standard.
Temple Grandin’s work started in the cattle industry back in the 1970s.”Being a woman in a man’s world in the 70s was not easy. There was a scene in the HBO movie where they put bull testicles on my car. That actually did happen. And one of the things that kept motivating me is I wanted to prove I could design equipment, and I could do things. It was long, sustained hard work.”
The HBO movie she refers to is the 2010 biopic titled for her, which tells the story of Grandin’s efforts to change the way livestock is handled on ranches, as well as complete her degrees, all the while struggling with the social challenges associated with autism. Grandin conquered those hurdles, and then some.
“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream.” ~ Temple Grandin
“I had people in my life who didn’t give up on me: my mother, my aunt, my science teacher. I had one-on-one speech therapy. I had a nanny who spent all day playing turn-taking games with me.” ~ Temple Grandin
“Autism is part of who I am.” ~ Temple Grandin
Her unprecedented success is in part thanks to the incredible way her brain operates. Grandin thinks in pictures. She sees thoughts in pictures. Her work with livestock started by observing how cattle behave based on what they see, like a shadow.
“I was so afraid to go out west to my aunt’s ranch. But the only choice my mother gave me was to go for two weeks or all summer. I wound up staying all summer. And that’s where I learned about cattle. I could relate to their behavior, their fears.” ~ Temple Grandin
“I don’t think in a language, and animals don’t think in a language. It’s sensory based thinking, thinking in pictures, thinking in smells, thinking in touches. It’s putting these sensory based memories into categories.” ~ Temple Grandin
“Language for me narrates the pictures in my mind. When I work on designing livestock equipment I can test run that equipment in my head like 3-D virtual reality. In fact, when I was in college I used to think that everybody was able to do that.” ~ Temple Grandin
“You can learn (to think in pictures) somewhat. But think of it as a continuum. You can’t get from one end of the continuum to the other. I’m never going to really be a mathematical thinker.” ~ Temple Grandin
“What I’ve tried to do is combine both my personal experiences with scientific research. I like to cross the divide between the personal world and the scientific world.” ~ Temple Grandin
“Honoring Dr. Temple Grandin in this esteemed group of women not only speaks to the power of her research and advocacy but also her impact as a role model for young women everywhere,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “Early in her career, her determination helped her break into what was a largely male-dominated animal production industry, and she continues to serve as an advocate for women in the sciences, for young people with autism, and for anyone unwilling to let artificial boundaries stand in the way of their personal and professional success.”
“People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet.” ~ Temple Grandin
“I get satisfaction out of seeing stuff that makes real change in the real world. We need a lot more of that and a lot less abstract stuff.” ~ Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is “A Woman To Admire,” – Against The Odds.