SheHeroes pilot: Marion Downs

UPDATE June 27: Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the first version of the pilot video. We've updated the video -- watch the new and improved version below. Also check out the Discussion Questions and More Facts.

Marion Downs - the "Mother of Audiology" - discovered that addressing infant hearing problems early is critical to their language development for their entire lives.

Largely due to her relentless pursuit in organizing and leading the medical and scientific community over 40 years, hearing testing in newborns is now ubiquitous in the United States, and has grown throughout the world.

At 95, she exercises for 1.5 hours a day, competes in the Senior Olympics as a tennis player against people 20 years younger. She went back to grad school at 35, after her children were in school, and stopped smoking packs per day at 55. She celebrated her 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane.

Discussion Questions

Interview with Dr. Marion Downs, Audiologist

Read before viewing the interview, and review after the presentation:

  1. What is an audiologist?
  2. What characteristics make Dr. Downs a successful scientist?
  3. How does being a minority help Dr. Downs in her career?
  4. How long does it take, and what finally convinces the U.S. medical community to adopt infant hearing testing?
  5. How are you like Dr. Downs? How are you different?
  6. Does Dr. Downs say anything that makes you uncomfortable, or that you disagree with?

More Facts

  • Besides working to diagnose and treat hearing and balance issues, some audiologists do research on detection, treatment and prevention, help administer preventative programs, and teach the next generations of audiologists
  • By 2012, students of audiology in the U.S. will be required to earn a Doctor of Audiology degree
  • More on audiology:  easy reading:,  professional reading:
  • More on Dr. Marion Downs:

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