It’s no secret that more men have been recognized for their contributions to Math and Science. Headstrong by Rachel Swaby is trying to change that. This new collection of brief biographies helps to record the fantastic and often over looked contributions of women in the realms of Math and Science. The book is divided into 52 chapters, each featuring a different woman involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and Rachel Swaby encourages reading one a week. I found myself devouring the book, though I can see going back to one a week to remind ourselves that women are a force in these fields.
While Marie Curie is left out intentionally (she is often used as the poster child of women in Science), her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie is included. Rachel Carson, Hedy Lamar and Rosalind Franklin finally get their due. Ada Lovelace gets credit for her ideas, and not just being the daughter of Lord Byron. Headstrong is filled with anecdotes of women who found ways to attend courses at universities, even when they banned attendance by women. All of these women fought social norms and followed their passions. At times, the book is frustrating because so many women were held back and limited from their full potential by those who didn’t believe. So many of these stories involve a male colleague stealing their discoveries or writing their name on the findings. But then again, there are a huge collection of stories of women who went on to find even bigger discoveries.
Headstrong is an important collection for women of all ages. If your child has any inclination towards science or if you need a little encouragement to keep living your dreams, this book is incredible. I highly recommend Headstrong for everyone.
Headstrong by Rachel Swaby is available April 7, 2015 from Crown Publishing