Super Women in Science
By Kelly Di Domenico
Second Story Press, 2004 (second printing)
“Imagine trying to be a scientist during the 19th century, when men were even trying to use science to prove that women were inferior. They said that because a woman’s brain is shaped differently than a man’s, she must be less intelligent. Well, Marie Curie was a scientist at that time and her work with radioactivity earned her two Nobel prizes!
The attitude that women were not smart enough to be scientists prevailed for a long time, but many women simply ignored it. They were curious about the world around them and wanted to play a part in discovering and understanding all its wonders.”
Any girl interested in science, or in pursuing her own dreams, even if they aren’t science, should read this book. It made me proud to be a woman who studied science, although my career led to teaching it. These fascinating stories of women who made their own way while overcoming great odds in the interest of science shows their struggles, the discrimination they faced, and the dedication they had to persevere and leave their mark on the scientific community.
Super Women in Science relates the path each woman took in developing her interest in science and her contribution to the body of science we have today. I first learned of Rosalind Franklin when I was working on my science book, You Can’t Wear These Genes. Franklin’s work in radiography was shown to Watson and Crick without her knowledge by her so-called colleague, leading them to realize the double helix shape of DNA. As a biology major, I knew of the two men. But I’d never heard of Rosalind Franklin, her work, or her struggle to be taken seriously by the men with whom she worked. It took an interview with a friend’s daughter in molecular biology to point this out.
The book begins with Hypatia–yes, that far back—to 355-415! It continues with Mary Anning, Harriet Brooks Pitcher, Rachel Carson, Rosalind Franklin, Birute Galdikas, and Mae Jemison, among others. Most of their discoveries were familiar; it was the names that were unknown to me. The writing is clear and concise, with science terms or vocabulary relating to the different fields of science explained within the text. After an introductory paragraph, each chapter is filled with the woman’s story set in the context of that time and how she overcame the resistance to being in her particular field of science. Small sidebars add short facts to the text.
This exciting book should be in every elementary and middle school library. Not just filled with facts, it’s an inspiring and hope-filled book with every chapter and woman scientist portrayed. I very often like the books I blog about a great deal, but I loved this book. I wish it had been around when I was young.
Categorize the discoveries by the fields of science in which the women from the book worked. See if there was any sort of correlation you can find. Which areas of science seem most interesting to you?
Use this site to look up some less familiar women scientists. Choose one and research further about her contributions to science.
National science standards: science as a human endeavor; history of science
Book provided by publisher