Hi everyone! I can only hope you’re enjoying this book as much as I am, because it’s been fantastic. It is one of those books that I want to run out and give to all my friends to read. I’ve generally found the stories very inspiring, both the women’s accomplishments and the challenges they had to overcome. I’d love to learn more about all of them! Here’s the discussion going on the google doc and the questions on this first half of the books:
- What did you think of the obit beginning with Brill’s domestic accomplishments?
- How do you like the vignette style of this book?
- Do you have a favorite story so far? If so, which one and why?
- Do you think something should be done today about the many female scientists who are known not to have received the credit they were due in their time, from paper authorships to Nobel prizes?
1 My initial reaction was that this was pretty terrible, largely because it was presented in the context of women not receiving recognition for their scientific achievements. As Kim at Time to Read pointed out though, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with an obituary beginning with details of woman or man’s family life if that was what they valued the most. There are two things that make me think this was really an example of sexism though. One, the Times included Brill’s obituary because of her professional accomplishments, so that should have been the lead. And two, the Times changed the obituary in response to public outcry, which I don’t think would have happened if Brill’s family had believed she would have liked the way it was written.
2 Initially, I was dubious. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get into the book with the quick changes between stories. I actually ended up really loving this though and having a hard time putting it down. I am left with things I want to know about all of the women in the book though!
3 I loved every one of the stories, but the one that stand out to me the most is Hodgkin’s discovery of the structure of penicillin. I feel as though I’ve heard the story of the discovery of penicillin over and over, so I was especially surprised that I wasn’t aware of her Nobel prize winning contribution.
4 I think the most important thing to do for the women who didn’t receive the credit they deserved in their lifetime is what this author is doing now – posthumously remembering their contributions. Something that this book generally made me realize though is how unaware I am of many important scientific contributions from both men and women, even those who received the recognition of a Nobel prize within their lifetime. It’s made me want to learn a lot more about science history!