What is it about?
Rachel Ignotofsky’s 50 essays on women scientists from all over the world are encapsulated in the rivetting Women in Science -50 Fearless Pioneers Who changed The World. Biologists, radiologists, mathematician, astronomer, paleontologist, doctor, psychoanalyst,geologist, physicit, industrial engineer, electrical engineers, astrophysicts, pharmacologist, oncologist, microbiologists, rocket scientist, cosmonaut and every other kind of scientist is written about with no frills.
And why not? These remakable women have had (and continue to have in many cases) such an eventful and enriching life that no frills need to be added. The illustrations in the book are each a keepsake.
Each one a poster that can be poured upon and nuggets gathered.
What is the inspiration and approach to the book?
In an interview with herpothesis.com Ignotofsky spoke about what inspired her about women scientists.
I started my Women in Science illustrations because I really wanted to celebrate my favorite scientists and inspire people to learn more about them. I was thinking a lot about why certain fields, especially STEM jobs, still did not have an equal representation of women. As I dove into the subject it became clear that throughout history, female scientists have had a huge impact on science and mathematics, but not a lot of recognition.
I truly believe that illustration is a powerful tool to convey information and inspire learning. I also think the best way to overcome gender bias is to make sure the young boys and girls grow up with strong female role models. I hope the illustrations and stories in Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World introduces these amazing scientists to readers both young and old.
My favorite part about writing this book was learning the life stories behind these 50 women. In the face of blatant discrimination, sexism and often racism, these women had the courage to create their own path and contribute greatly to their fields.
The hardest part was definitely narrowing down the list to only 50. There are so many amazing women whose stories haven’t been told. I hope this book gets people excited to go out and learn even more!
How is the book structured?
The book moves chronologically from 350 CE to the current day. Each spread has an illustration on one side and the biographical note on the other. A single colour dominates each drawing with notes and despite conventional knowledge, they stand out, rather than blend in.
In addition to this a timeline of women scientists through time, a fantastic and detailed drawing of the various lab tools, statistics in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths), an illustrated glossary and the author’s sources of research make Women In Science -50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World in one word -coveted.
Takeaways from the book
The book does not simply list the achievements of these remarkable women, it speaks about all the naysaying that these scientists had to face. The author talks about this in the introduction.
Many people thought women were just not smart as men. The women in this book had to fight these stereotypes to have the careers they wanted. They broke rules, published under pseudonyms, and worked for the love of learning alone.When others doubted their abilities, they had to believe in themselves.
Further on, the author talks about the working conditions in which these scientists had to work in.
Lise Meitner did her radiochemistry experiments in a dank basement. Without funding for a lab, physicist and chemist Marie Curie handled dangerous radioactive elements in a tiny, dusty shed. After making one of the most important discoveries in the history of anatomy, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin still got little recognition, and for decades her gender limited her to work as a technical assistant.
The book is rich in information and will inspire aspiring scientists and researchers to never stop with their work, because of their gender (in this case), colour or nationality. Women in Science -50 fearless pioneers who changed the world drills down the important lesson that saving the world is a task that requires persistence, patience, and attention to detail. The stories in it help every little girl and boy understand that science is gender-blind and reveals its mysteries only to true seekers.
You can buy the book here.