the first women to graduate with a degree
in physics from Yale.
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women
Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the
Moon to Mars. By Nathalia Holt. 2016.
Little, Brown, $27 (9780316338929).
In this zestful group portrait, Holt tells
the overlooked story of the women at the
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (which has the
highest percentage of female employees in
NASA) who worked as “computers,” performing lightning-fast calculations of the
highest math, and made crucial contributors to JPL’s success.
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady
of DNA. By Brenda Maddox. 2002.
HarperCollins, $29.95 (0-06-018407-8).
Maddox elucidates Franklin’s vital contribution to the discovery of DNA’s structure
and elaborates her scientific achievements
in virology in this definitive portrait of the
trailblazing biophysicist, who died of ovarian cancer at 38 in 1958.
Soundings: The Remarkable Woman Who
Mapped the Ocean Floor. By Hali Felt.
2012. Holt, $27.50 (9780805092158).
Felt’s thoroughly enjoyable, novel-like
biography brings forward the unconventional and downright rakish geologist and
oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp,
who contributed mightily to the field
of plate tectonics by creating a detailed
topographic map of the ocean floor and
discovering the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The Tangled Field: Barbara
McClintock’s Search for the Patterns
of Genetic Control. By Nathaniel
C. Comfort. 2001. Harvard, $24.50
McClintock, jaunty and hardworking,
was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1983, when she
was 81, for her groundbreaking work in
maize genetics; Comfort is the first biographer to have access to McClintock’s
papers and to reveal the true nature of
Wonder Women: 25 Innovators,
Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed
History. By Sam Maggs. 2016. Quirk,
Maggs’ lively, slangy, fun biographical
sketches introducing unsung female pioneers in the STEM fields are matched
by interviews with prominent contemporary women scientists, engineers,
and others, along with advice for young
women interested in pursuing a career in
a STEM field.
mon computer language (COBOL) while
pursuing her “vision of a democratic information age.”
Headstrong: 52 Women Who
Changed Science—and the World. By
Rachel Swaby. 2015. Broadway, $16
Swaby covers more than 350 years in
her exuberant and eye-opening short
biographies of too-little-known women
scientists from around the world who
excelled in fields ranging from physics to
biology, astronomy, and engineering.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream
and the Untold Story of the Black
Women Mathematicians Who Helped
Win the Space Race. By Margot Lee
Shetterly. 2016. Morrow, $27.99
Shetterly portrays the forgotten African American women who worked as
“computers” at NASA’s Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, in Virginia,
helping launch and sustain the space program. Their powerful story has inspired a
major motion picture.
Lab Girl. By Hope Jahren. 2016. Knopf,
Award-winning geochemist and geobiologist Jahren presents an exceptionally
compelling and enlightening memoir
about her battle against sexism as she set
up labs and undertook daunting fieldwork propelled by her passion for plants
and concerns about the environment.
Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The
Private Lives of Science’s First Family.
By Shelley Emling. 2012. Palgrave, $26
Marie Curie discovered the element
radium with her husband, Pierre, and
they were both awarded the Nobel Prize
in physics. Marie later won a Nobel
in chemistry. Yet she faced rampant
chauvinism while struggling to support
her daughters after Pierre’s death, one
of whom, Irene, also became a Nobel-laureate chemist, while sister Eve was a
prominent journalist and humanitarian.
The Only Woman in the Room:
Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club. By
Eileen Pollack. 2015. Beacon, $27.95
America’s efforts to increase recruitment
in STEM fields might have kicked into
overdrive, but representation of women in
the sciences is still woefully anemic, and
Pollack explains why in this frank memoir
about her struggles with sexism as one of