Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

"It's made to believe/women are the same as men;/are you not convinced/daughters can also be heroic?" - Wang Zhenyi, astronomer, 1768-1797

Title: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
Pages: 128 pages
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Science; Reference; Gender Studies; Feminism
My Rating: 5/5

A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more.

Some of these biographies will tug at your heartstrings. The strength it took these women to compete with their male counterparts is admirable. Professors made women attend classes behind a screen to remain invisible. Women had to create home basement labs because they weren't allowed near professional ones. Yet a female doctor (Elizabeth Blackwell) was the first to point out to a male doctor that hygiene is a real thing. "Like, Doc, maybe you should wash your hands between going from that flu patient to delivering that baby. You're giving everyone typhus for fuck sake." Probably in those words.

This was a quirky little illustrated reference book. I loved it. The biography of each scientist wasn't more than a page. Ignotofsky's artwork reminded me of being so goddamn bored in high school that I would fill every inch of available space around my notes with stars. I loved and hated this. There was so much to look at. Too much. And not necessarily in a clear manner as you would find in most illustrated books or comics.

Not related, but perhaps very related: In the early 1900s, psychologist and industrial engineer Lillian Gilbreth co-authored books with her male partner but remained anonymous because a woman's name would sully any credibility blah blah blah. Gilbreth. Galbraith. Robert Galbraith. J.K. Rowling, did you steal Lillian's last name for your pseudonym because of this? Because if you did, fucking brilliant.

My personal favorite hardcore lady types from Women in Science:
Psychoanalyst Karen Horney, because she challenged the notion that women most definitely do not have Freudian "penis envy" and zoologist Joan Beauchamp Procter, because she walked her pet Komodo fucking Dragon around on a leash.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

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