Thursday, June 4, 2015

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science and the World by Rachel Swaby

  • ISBN-10: 0553446797 - Paperback $16
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 7, 2015), 288 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.

The blurb:
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 New York Times had devoted several hundred words to her life:  Brill was a rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communication satellites in orbit, and she had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.  Among the questions the obituary -- and consequent outcry -- highlighted 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 scientist who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby's without vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each woman'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.

Headstrong introduces us to 52 women scientists from a range of fields expertise, nationalities, backgrounds, and periods in history. While the profiles are limited to a few pages, the entries give us a strong sense of what obstacles they faced, their professional and personal successes, and the role that they've played in moving science forward.

I wasn't sure what to expect because the write-ups are brief, but Rachel Swaby does the women justice. The book is just a starting point, it encourages us to learn more about these outstanding, persistent, gifted women, about science, and about pushing forward.

About the Author:
Rachel Swaby is a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in the Runner's WorldWiredO, The Oprah Magazine, New, Afar, and others. She is a senior editor at Longshot magazine, the editor-in-chief of The Connective: Issue 1, a former research editor at Wired, and a past presenter at Pop-Up magazine. She lives in Brooklyn.  Learn more about her at

No comments:

Post a Comment