Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history's brightest female scientists.
In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children." It wasn't until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary - and consequent outcry - prompted were, Who are the role models for today's female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light?
Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby's vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one's ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they're best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best - while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.
©2015 Rachel Swaby (P)2015 Random House Audio
"A woman revolutionized heart surgery. A woman created the standard test given to all newborns to determine their health. A woman was responsible for some of the earliest treatments of previously terminal cancers. We shouldn't need to be reminded of their names, but we do. With a deft touch, Rachel Swaby has assembled an inspiring collection of some of the central figures in 20th century science. Headstrong is an eye-opening, much-needed exploration of the names history would do well to remember, and Swaby is a masterful guide through their stories." (Maria Konnikova, Contributing New Yorker writer and New York Times best-selling author of Mastermind: How to Think like Sherlock Holmes)
"Rachel Swaby's fine, smart look at women in science is a much-needed corrective to the record - a deftly balanced field guide to the overlooked (Hilde Mangold), the marginalized (Rosalind Franklin), the unexpected (Hedy Lamarr), the pioneering (Ada Lovelace), and the still-controversial (Rachel Carson). Swaby reminds us that science, like the rest of life, is a team sport played by both genders." (William Souder, author of On a Farther Shore and Under a Wild Sky)
"Headstrong is a true gem. So many amazing women have had an incredible impact on STEM fields, and this book gives clear, concise, easy-to-digest histories of 52 of them - there's no longer an excuse for not being familiar with our math and science heroines. Thank you, Rachel!" (Danica McKellar, actress and New York Times best-selling author of Math Doesn't Suck)
This book is an inspiration. Any woman in science should read it. It gives that balanced perspective that difficulties are normal even for these brilliant women, but if you love what you do, you'll do it no matter the circumstances.
"Role models for young women"
Highly recommended, a much-needed book portraying the lives and works of strong women scientists. Fifty-two excellent role models for young women. I would have liked to see more biographies on women living outside the U.S., Europe, and Russia.
For most of the audible version, the narrator spoke in U.S. English. However, in parts where people from other countries were quoted, she slipped into accents that sounded stereotypical and almost disdainful. I would have liked it better if she spoke those parts without the accents.
"Needed reading for all"
These 52 vignettes of women who labored because of their love of science or technology is fascinating and needed reading by anyone interested in history of science or technology and by all teachers
So many wonderful women in science. I am thankful for Rachel Swaby for bringing them to society's awareness. I have heard better versions of some of these histories, but have never heard them compiled together in a book like this, which really highlights the accomplishments of women, despite all they had to overcome to force their way into education and the sciences. Further, even though I was aware of many women in the book, because I love the history of science, there were still some new biographies for me to enjoy.
I often had to stop reading to reflect on how much they suffered and how hard they worked some that women today could get an education and have an easier time entering science related professions. The story of Mary Taussig was my favorite. Rejected by Harvard and other universities, she persevered only to change the face of medicine. Babies born with heart defects died. There was not a whole lot that could be done. But Taussig changed all that. She is my new hero.
My favorite part of the book was the history of Harvard, thrown into many of the biographies, and how it worked so hard to keep women from entering universities, not just their university, but all universities. The way male experts in a position of power treated intelligent women is without question an important thing to understand and remember.
So many wonderful women. A must read.
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