Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the WorldTitle: Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World
Author: Rachel Swaby
Source/Format: Blogging For Books, Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction, Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Broadway Books, April 7, 2015

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Summary from Goodreads...

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...
When I first saw this book available for review I was more than excited for it. I previously knew about a few prominent female figures like Sally Ride, and I was looking to expand my knowledge. I wanted to know more about the accomplishment of women in the scientific field.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby offers a brief look at 52 woman who changed the fields they worked in—offering summaries of their accomplishments and general facts about them. This book covered subjects from Medicine, to Genetics and Development.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite the fact that only a few pages were dedicated to each woman and her major accomplishments. Headstrong does a great job highlighting each person by offering facts about their upbringing and schooling, even some of the hardships they faced in their respective workplaces before—sometimes even after—achieving acclaim for important discoveries. It was everything from opposition coming directly from prominent colleges refusing to admit them, to their names being omitted from work they spent their life on.

My only real complaint is as I said above, that the profiles were a little short, and I would have liked to know more about each person. But overall, I really liked Headstrong, and I read the book in a few days. I definitely recommend picking it up if you’re looking for a way to get introduced to more female scientists beyond what you might already know.

Top 5 Favorite Profiles...
  • Jeanne Villepreux-Power "the mother of aquariophily" (p.52).
  • Rita Levi-Montalcini "In 1986, she and Cohen were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for their work." (p.107).
  • Rosalyn Sussman Yalow "Over the course of conducting their insulin research, Yalow and Berson measured the antibodies generated as a result of the hormone." (p.149).
  • Yvonne Brill "Her electrothermal hydrazine thruster was still used in satellites when she died in 2013." (p.171).
  • Florence Nightingale "Through observation and statistical analysis of census data, Nightingale designed a curriculum for nurses that would provide them with adequate training for the very first time." (p.187-188).

I received this copy of the book from Blogging for Books for this review, thank you!

Rachel Swaby is a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in theRunner’s World, Wired, O, The Oprah Magazine, New, Afar, and others. She is a senior editor at Longshot magazine, the editor-in-chief of The Connective: Issue 1, a former research editor at Wired, and a past presenter at Pop-Up magazine. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website HERE

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