Author: Eileen Pollack
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Summary: I found some of the author’s anecdotes moving, but I was disappointed this wasn’t a more research-based exploration of the problem.
Although author Eileen Pollack was one of the first women to graduate from Yale with a BS in physics, she decided to pursue her love of writing instead of going on to get her PhD. Decades later, she decided to explore why so many women drop out of math, science, and engineering at every level of achievement. She briefly discusses some studies on women in science and anecdotes from others, but mostly revisits her own experiences.
Given the subtitle of this book (Why Science is Still a Boys Club), I hoped for a rigorous analysis of this question and maybe even a partial solution to the problem. My expectations meant I was disappointed when this turned out to be yet another book that’s actually a memoir. The first third of the book especially disappointed me because it was the story of the author’s childhood in the sixties, which was unrelatable to me. I also desperately hope the description of the blatant sexism she faced is largely irrelevant today.
The second third of the book told the story of her time at Yale. Her experience was still very different from mine, but I found it interesting for that reason. In the final third of the book, I found the modern anecdotes from women the author interviewed more interesting still. I also enjoyed the few studies the author cited, but many were studies I’d heard of before. I actually would not want to get rid of the memoir section, but I do wish the book had been long enough for there to be a more thorough exploration on research in this area.
Have you read any of the recent nonfiction books that have surprised people by being memoirs (Spinster, Galileo’s Middle Finger, etc)?