This Summer’s Must-Read Books about Women In STEM

By Seraya Maouche, posted on July 31, 2016.

We have assembled for our readers a list of 12 books about women in STEM to read this summer.

1- Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

Published on July, 26th 2016 | Ten Speed Press.

This 128 pages nicely illustrated book highlights the contributions of fifty pionners women to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields).
“A charmingly illustrated and educational book, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notablewomen to the fields of science, technology, engineering,and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. ” Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!” – Source: Ten Speed Press.


2- Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox.

Published on Published on June, 17th 2002 | Harper Collins Publisher.

BookRosalindFranklin “This is the extraordinarily powerful story of Rosalind Franklin, told by one of our greatest biographers; the single-minded young scientist whose contribution to arguably the most significant discovery of all time went unrecognised, elbowed aside in the rush for glory, and who died too young to recover her claim to some of that reputation, a woman who was not the wife of anybody and who is a myth in the making. Like a medieval saint, Franklin looms larger as she recedes in time. She has become a feminist icon, the Sylvia Plath of molecular biology. This will be a full and balanced biography, that will examine Franklins abruptness and tempestuousness, her loneliness and her relationships, the powerful family from which she sprang and the uniqueness of the work in which she was engaged. It is a vivid portrait, in sum, of a gifted young woman drawn against a background of womens education, Anglo-Jewry and the greatest scientific discovery of the century.”

– Source: Harper Collins Publisher.


3- Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life by Georgina Ferry.

Published on September, 11 2014 | Bloomsbury.

“Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was renowned for her medically-important work on penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin. Fully engaged with the political and social currents of her time, she participated in some of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century: women’s education; the globalisation of science; the rise and fall of communism; and international peace movements. A wife, mother and grandmother, she cared deeply about the wellbeing of individuals in all cultures.

Georgina Ferry’s biography of the only British female scientist to receive the Nobel Prize – Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life – was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize and the Marsh Biography Award. Bloomsbury Reader 2014 edition is reissued with a new preface. – See more at:

” – Source: Bloomsbury.



4- Nobel Prize Women in Science by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne.

Published in 1993 (1st edition) | National Academy Press.

BookNobelWomen_ “Since 1901 there have been over three hundred recipients of the Nobel Prize in the sciences. Only ten of them — about 3 percent — have been women. Why? In this updated version of Nobel Prize Women in Science, Sharon Bertsch McGrayne explores the reasons for this astonishing disparity by examining the lives and achievements of fifteen women scientists who either won a Nobel Prize or played a crucial role in a Nobel Prize – winning project. The book reveals the relentless discrimination these women faced both as students and as researchers. Their success was due to the fact that they were passionately in love with science.

The book begins with Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Readers are then introduced to Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Barbara McClintock, Chien-Shiung Wu, and Rosalind Franklin. These and other remarkable women portrayed here struggled against gender discrimination, raised families, and became political and religious leaders. They were mountain climbers, musicians, seamstresses, and gourmet cooks. Above all, they were strong, joyful women in love with discovery.”

– Source: National Academy Press.


5- A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock by Evelyn Fox Keller.

Published on February 15, 1984  | Times Books.

“For much of her life she worked alone, brilliant but eccentric, with ideas that made little sense to her colleagues. Yet before DNA and the molecular revolution, Barbara McClintock’s tireless analysis of corn led her to uncover some of the deepest, most intricate secrets of genetic organization. Nearly forty years later, her insights would bring her a MacArthur Foundation grant, the Nobel Prize, and long overdue recognition. At her recent death at age 90, she was widely acknowledged as one of the most significant figures in 20th-century science.

Evelyn Fox Keller’s acclaimed biography, A Feeling for the Organism, gives us the full story of McClintock’s pioneering―although sometimes professionally difficult―career in cytology and genetics. The book now appears in a special edition marking the 10th anniversary of its original publication.” – Source: Times Books.

6- Headstrong; 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World
by Rachel Swaby.

Published on April 7, 2015 | Broadway Books.






“Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists.
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, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.”- Source: Broadway Books.

7- Almost Heaven: The Story of Women in Space by Bettyann Kevles.

Published on February 15, 2006  | The MIT Press.

“Almost Heaven tells the stories of the remarkable women who have bravely met two challenges: the risk of space travel and the struggle to succeed in a man’s world. From Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Sally Ride in 1983 to Kalpana Chawla and Lauren Clark on the last flight of the Columbia, these women made history. Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles brings the women of space to life in this fascinating book, describing what motivates them, the pioneers who paved the way for them, and how their presence in the astronaut corps changed NASA. Setting her story against the background of the Cold War and the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Kevles takes us from Cape Canaveral to Star City in Russia and back. She describes the years of rejection before women were allowed to train as astronauts in the U.S. space program and the problems that female cosmonauts encountered in the U.S.S.R. Kevles talks to the first women chosen by NASA to be astronauts in 1978 and to many women who have followed them. These women, she shows, have not only broken down barriers to join the most exclusive men’s club in the world–the space program–they have become players in the greatest adventure of our time, the human exploration of space. This paperback edition includes Kevles’s thoughts on the 2005 Discovery mission and other recent developments in the space program as well as her reflections on the role of female astronauts today, and perhaps tomorrow.” – Source: The MIT Press.


8- Obsessive Genius – The Inner World Of Marie Curie by Barbara Goldsmith.

Published in 2015 | W. W. Norton.

“Through family interviews, diaries, letters, and workbooks that had been sealed for over sixty years, Barbara Goldsmith reveals the Marie Curie behind the myth—an all-too-human woman struggling to balance a spectacular scientific career, a demanding family, the prejudice of society, and her own passionate nature. Obsessive Genius is a dazzling portrait of Curie, her amazing scientific success, and the price she paid for fame.”

– Source: W. W. Norton.


9- Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics by Ruth Lewin Sime.

Published on June 27, 1997  | University of California Press.

“Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was a pioneer of nuclear physics and co-discoverer, with Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann, of nuclear fission. Braving the sexism of the scientific world, she joined the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry and became a prominent member of the international physics community. Of Jewish origin, Meitner fled Nazi Germany for Stockholm in 1938 and later moved to Cambridge, England. Her career was shattered when she fled Germany, and her scientific reputation was damaged when Hahn took full credit—and the 1944 Nobel Prize—for the work they had done together on nuclear fission. Ruth Sime’s absorbing book is the definitive biography of Lise Meitner, the story of a brilliant woman whose extraordinary life illustrates not only the dramatic scientific progress but also the injustice and destruction that have marked the twentieth century. .” – Source: University of California Press.

10- Women in Science: Then and Now by Vivian Gornick.

Published on March, 1 2009 | The Feminist Press.

“In this newly revised twenty-fifth anniversary edition, acclaimed writer and journalist Vivian Gornick interviews famous and lesser-known scientists, compares their experiences then and now, and shows that, although not much has changed in the world of science, what is different is women’s expectations that they can and will succeed.

Everything from the disparaging comments by Harvard’s then-president to government reports and media coverage has focused on the ways in which women supposedly can’t do science. Gornick’s original interviews show how deep and severe discrimination against women was back then in all scientific fields. Her new interviews, with some of the same women she spoke to twenty-five years ago, provide a fresh description of the hard times and great successes these women have experienced.”

– Source: The Feminist Press.


11- Reflections on Gender and Science by Evelyn Fox Keller.

Published on March 11, 1999  | Yale University Press.

“Why are objectivity and reason characterized as male and subjectively and feeling as female? How does this characterization affect the goals and methods of scientific enquiry? This groundbreaking work explores the possibilities of a gender-free science and the conditions that could make such a possibility a reality.

Evelyn Fox Keller, professor of mathematics and humanities at Northeastern University, is the author of Feeling for the Organism, a widely acclaimed biography of Nobel Prizewinner Barbara McClintock. ” – Source: Yale University Press.


12- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Published on June, 3 2010 | Macmillan,

“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells – taken without her knowledge – become one of the most important tools in modern medicine. Taken in 1951, these cells became the first immortal human cell line ever grown in culture. They were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered the secrets of cancer, viruses and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilisation, cloning, and gene mapping, and have been bought and sold by the billions. Put together, her cells would now weigh more than 22 million tons and placed end-to-end would wrap around the earth five times.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “coloured” wards of Johns Hopkins in the 1950s to poverty stricken tenements of East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s children are unable to afford health insurance, and struggle with feelings of pride, fear and betrayal. Their story is inextricably linked to the birth of bioethics, the rise of multi-billion dollar biotech industry, and the legal battles that determine if we own our bodies.

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.”

– Source: Macmillan.


A full list of all books available in our database is accessible at this URL.





























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2 thoughts on “This Summer’s Must-Read Books about Women In STEM

  1. Hello Admin,
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    1. Dear Ana,
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      The WinSTEM team

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