Over 150 years after her death, a widely-used scientific computer program was named "Ada," after Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of the eighteenth century's version of a rock star, Lord Byron. Why? Because, after computer pioneers such as Alan Turing began to rediscover her, it slowly became apparent that she had been a key but overlooked figure in the invention of the computer. In Ada's Algorithm, Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace's contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications. Ada would go on to overcome numerous obstacles to obtain a level of education typically forbidden to women of her day. She would eventually join forces with Charles Babbage, generally credited with inventing the computer, although as Essinger makes clear, Babbage couldn't have done it without Lovelace. Indeed, Lovelace wrote what is today considered the world's first computer program--despite opposition that the principles of science were "beyond the strength of a woman's physical power of application.
Why is it that, while women in the United States have generally made great strides in establishing parity with their male counterparts in educational attainment, they remain substantially underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)? Why is it that, in proportion to the PhDs they obtain in STEM, they attain fewer administrative and managerial positions in academia and industry than their numbers warrant and, moreover, are more likely leave the field once started in their careers? In the culture and context of women’s advancement and satisfaction with careers in STEM, the data show that many challenges and obstacles remain. By showcasing the stories of eight women scientists who have achieved successful careers in the academy, industry and government, Breaking In offers vivid insights into the challenges and barriers that women face in entering STEM while also describing these women’s motivations, the choices they made along their paths, and the intellectual satisfactions and excitement of scientific discovery they derive from their work.
In this book the author traces the story of the unsung World War II workers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. This is the story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history. The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project's secret cities, it did not appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships, and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men. But against this wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work, even the most innocuous details, was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb "Little Boy" was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb. Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home.
Sobel's luminous history introduces the heretofore-unheralded mid-nineteenth-century women who studied glass photographic plates of the stars at the Harvard Observatory and made profound discoveries that set the course for modern astronomy. (Booklist)
The first woman to earn a PhD in mathematics at Yale, Grace Hopper enlisted in the navy immediately after Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the Harvard Computational Laboratory, where she speaheaded the formulation of a common computer language (COBOL) while pursuing her "vision of a democratic information age." (Booklist)
Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, 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 fifty-two women at their best while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.
An account of the previously unheralded but pivotal contributions of NASA's African-American women mathematicians to America's space program; describes how they were segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws in spite of their groundbreaking successes.
Lab Girl is a book about work, about love, and about the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren's remarkable stories: about the things she's discovered in her lab, as well as how she got there; about her childhood--hours of unfettered play in her father's laboratory; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work "with both the heart and the hands"; about a brilliant and wounded man named Bill, who became her loyal colleague and best friend; about their adventurous, sometimes rogue research trips, which take them from the Midwest all across the United States and over the Atlantic, from the ever-light skies of the North Pole to tropical Hawaii; and about her constant striving to do and be the best she could, never allowing personal or professional obstacles to cloud her dedication to her work. Jahren's probing look at plants, her astonishing tenacity of spirit, and her insights on nature enliven every page of this book.
This work gives insight into the barriers and successes for women in science, and sheds light on the way our cultural ideas of gender have shaped the profession. Why are the fields of science and technology still considered to be predominantly male professions? This work moves beyond the most common explanations, limited access to professional training, lack of resources, exclusion from social networks of men, to give historical context and unexpected revelations about women's contributions to the sciences. Exploring the lives of Jane Goodall, Rosalind Franklin, Rosalyn Yalow, Barbara McClintock, Rachel Carson, and the women of the Manhattan Project, the author considers their personal and professional stories in relation to their male counterparts, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, to demonstrate how the gendered culture of science molds the methods, structure, and experience of the work. The book reveals how women scientists have often asked different questions, used different methods, come up with different explanations for phenomena in the natural world, and how they have forever transformed a scientist's role.
In this autobiography as unself-conscious as Shirley apparently is herself, the first woman to manage a NASA space flight program invites readers to follow her adventures, beginning with an awkward childhood, through four decades of failure and success, culminating not in an end but in a new beginning. "Where do you go after you've been to Mars?" her epilogue asks. "Where do you go after you've reached the pinnacle of what you imagined for yourself?" The answer is to pursue a new passion, to discover once again what you want to do when you grow up. "The question is only: Which passion do I want to pursue?" she declares. "Stay tuned."
Marie Curie was the first person to be honored by two Nobel Prizes and she pioneered the use of radiation therapy for cancer patients. But she was also a mother, widowed young, who raised two extraordinary daughters alone: Irene, a Nobel Prize winning chemist in her own right, who played an important role in the development of the atomic bomb, and Eve, a highly regarded humanitarian and journalist, who fought alongside the French Resistance during WWII. As a woman fighting to succeed in a male dominated profession and a Polish immigrant caught in a xenophobic society, she had to find ways to support her research. Drawing on personal interviews with Curie's descendents, as well as revelatory new archives, this is a wholly new story about Marie Curie--and a family of women inextricably connected to the dawn of nuclear physics.
Eileen Pollack had grown up in the 1960s and 70s dreaming of a career as a theoretical astrophysicist. Denied the chance to take advanced courses in science and math, she nonetheless made her way to Yale, where, despite finding herself far behind the men in her classes, she went on to graduate, summa cum laude, with honors, as one of the university's first two women to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. And yet, isolated, lacking in confidence, starved for encouragement, she abandoned her ambition to become a physicist. Years later, Pollack revisited her reasons for walking away from the career she once had coveted. She spent six years interviewing her former teachers and classmates and dozens of other women who had dropped out before completing their degrees in science. In addition, Pollack talked to experts in the field of gender studies and reviewed the most up-to-date research that seeks to document why women and minorities underperform in STEM fields. Girls who study science and math led to think that any interest or achievement in science or math will diminish their popularity. They are still being steered away from advanced courses in technical fields, while deeply entrenched stereotypes lead them to see themselves as less talented than their male classmates, a condition that causes them to fulfill such expectations and perform more poorly than the boys sitting beside them.
Blending a fascinating personal history with dramatic historical events, this book brings long-overdue attention to a brilliant woman whose work proved essential for America's early space program. This is the extraordinary true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Told by her son, it describes Mary Sherman Morgan's crucial contribution to launching America's first satellite and the author's labyrinthine journey to uncover his mother's lost legacy--one buried deep under a lifetime of secrets political, technological, and personal. In 1938, a young German rocket enthusiast named Wernher von Braun had dreams of building a rocket that could fly him to the moon. In Ray, North Dakota, a young farm girl named Mary Sherman was attending high school. In an age when girls rarely dreamed of a career in science, Mary wanted to be a chemist. A decade later the dreams of these two disparate individuals would coalesce in ways neither could have imagined. World War II and the Cold War space race with the Russians changed the fates of both von Braun and Mary Sherman Morgan. When von Braun and other top engineers could not find a solution to the repeated failures that plagued the nascent US rocket program, North American Aviation, where Sherman Morgan then worked, was given the challenge. Recognizing her talent for chemistry, company management turned the assignment over to young Mary. In the end, America succeeded in launching rockets into space, but only because of the joint efforts of the brilliant farm girl from North Dakota and the famous German scientist. While von Braun went on to become a high-profile figure in NASA's manned space flight, Mary Sherman Morgan and her contributions fell into obscurity--until now.
Sherr (former correspondent, ABC News) and Sally Ride, one of America's most famous astronauts, became friends over the course of interviews while Sherr was covering NASA for ABC. Now Sherr presents the authorized biography of Ride, with their friendship adding a personal dimension to the narrative. The late Ride's partner and family provided Sherr with access to many documents and granted her interviews, so the book includes rich details about the personal life of a very private woman. Sherr takes the time to discuss the space race, the challenges for women wishing to become astronauts, and the barriers LGBT scientists (Ride was a physicist) have had to overcome, all of which are important contexts for understanding the significance of Ride's milestone achievements.
Before Marie Tharp's groundbreaking work in the 1950's, the ocean floor was a mystery-then, as now, we knew less about the bottom of the sea than we did about outer space. In a time when women were held back by the casually sexist atmosphere of mid twentieth century academia -a time when trained geologists like Tharp were routinely relegated to the role of secretary or assistant- Tharp's work would completely change the world's understanding of our planet's evolution. By transforming dry data into beautifully detailed maps that laid the ground work for proving the then controversial theory of continental drift, Tharp, along with her lifelong partner, Bruce Heezen, upended scientific consensus and ushered in a new era in geology and oceanography.
Reporting on a range of historical and contemporary female builders and designers, this educational book strives to inspire a new generation of girls in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. With many of the profiles set against the backdrop of such landmark events as the women's suffrage and civil rights movements and the Industrial Revolution, and with original interviews from a number of current architects and engineers, this book provides inspiration and advice directly to young women by highlighting positive examples of how a strong work ethic, perseverance, and creativity can overcome life's obstacles.
Smart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, even when the odds were stacked against them. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors. Plus, interviews with real-life women in STEM careers, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to women-centric science and technology organizations—all to show the many ways the geeky girls of today can help to build the future.