10 to Try: Women in Science

Did you see the movie Hidden Figures, opens a new window this weekend? Are you participating in our 10 to Try challenge, opens a new window this year? One category we have been challenged to read is STEM (that stands for science, technology, engineering and math). To help provide you with some good choices I have assembled here a brief introduction to three women in science. For each, I selected a book that you can read to learn more about their story, along with a work of popular science based on each woman's field of study.

Vera Rubin

Rubin's story is not so different from the story of many women her age who were interested in the field of science. Despite attending a women's college, she was the only graduate in her year to receive a degree in astronomy. Her first choice of graduate school, Princeton, would not even consider admitting her because their graduate program did not accept women until 1975- nearly 25 years after Rubin graduated from Cornell's graduate program. Without Rubin's determination to do the work she wanted, we may never have made the observations that confirmed the theory of dark matter.

Vera Rubin died in the last week of 2016. NPR published a news article after her death, opens a new window where you can read more about her life.

Out of the Shadows: Contributions of Twentieth-century Women to Physics, opens a new window

Read about Rubin and 40 other women who have made contributions to the study of physics.

Out of the Shadows

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, opens a new window by Lisa Randall

Learn more about dark matter in this readable narrative nonfiction book by a theoretical physicist and talented author who has been a professor at Princeton, the school that once would not even admit Rubin as a student.

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

Many women who worked in the scientific community- especially those of color- were hidden behind the authorship and management of men. A movie, currently in theaters, called Hidden Figures, opens a new window tackles this topic. It features three African American women who contributed to the math that allowed NASA to put the first Americans into space.

Katherine Johnson is one of the three female scientists. Born in 1918, Johnson was a physicist and a phenomenal mathematician. She calculated, by hand, the math that put John Glenn into orbit, and more importantly, brought him back safely. When NASA began to use computers for their calculations, she became an expert in computerized celestial navigation. (You can tell that to anyone who asks you for tech help and tries to tell you they are too old for computers.)

Hidden Figures, opens a new window by Margot Lee Shetterly

You can read about Johnson and the other women of NASA's early days in the book that inspired the new feature film. We have many versions including a young reader's edition you can share with the kids in your life.

Hidden Figures