A Book by a Woman Scientist – Reading Women 2019

This post is part of a series on reading women 2019 hosted by Lonely Cryptid Media’s Narrative Designer, Dan Michael Fielding.

When I first started putting together the prompt list for this reading women challenge I was astonished by the number of prompt lists that already existed. There are dozens of prompt lists out there, although none of them quite fit the kinds of books I wanted to read this year.

In particular, one prompt I read I still think about today: “A book with a pink cover.”

This is a prompt on a different site from a few years ago, and it’s since been replaced with new prompts, so I won’t link to it here. Suffice to say I wracked my brain for days over that little prompt. A book with a pink cover? I thought to myself. What was the thought process behind adding that prompt to this person’s list?

I can never know the exact thought process, of course, and in the end it doesn’t really matter why one individual chose to add that prompt to their list. Maybe it was an act to reclaim the feminine-coded color pink. Maybe it was about reading the rainbow. Maybe it wasn’t really a decision at all and the presumption that pink = woman went uninterrogated.

Notably absent from the “book with a pink cover” prompt list was a prompt to read a book by a woman scientist.

I decided that all the lists I was finding online simply weren’t for me. I had to make my own list. As I put together the list of prompts that would eventually become the reading women challenge I tried to be conscious in all my choices.

In the U.S. we associate women with the color pink. With softness and all things feminine. We don’t tend to associate women with science, logic, and reasoning, even though they are just as good at all those things.

Hence, this prompt. I want to encourage all of us to read books by and about women scientists. These are the scientists often making key discoveries that are either ignored by male-dominated science, or outright stolen by male scientists. This prompt pushes back against the impetus to forget women scientists.

In choosing what you will read for this prompt I recommend you check out Women You Should Know’s list of 150 women in science. It’s a great place to get started remembering the accomplishments of women scientists.

One book not on the list, but which I’ve decided to read, is Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I’ve heard good things about this book, and I’m hoping the memoir-style of writing will be more approachable for me as a non-botanist. Although I’m familiar with reading social scientific work the natural sciences are still new to me.

What will you be reading for this prompt? Let us know below and maybe we’ll learn about a new woman scientist!

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