Biography – Women in Science

Women in Science
Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family
by Shelley Emling

The first person to win two Nobel Prizes (and in two different fields, physics and chemistry), Marie Skłodowska Curie also founded a dynasty of female scientists — beginning with her older daughter, chemist Irene. Drawing on archival material as well as interviews with members of the Curie-Joliot family, this book examines the influence of Curie’s private life on her research. With a special emphasis on the Curie family in the post-World War I era, this biography presents a well-rounded portrait of an iconic and inspiring scientist.

Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched…
by James Essinger

During her brief yet influential life (she died in 1852, aged 36), mathematician Ada Byron, Countess Lovelace, wrote what is widely considered to be the first program for Charles Babbage’s proposed Analytical Engine, a forerunner of today’s computers. The daughter (and only legitimate child) of English poet Lord Byron, Ada struggled in vain to achieve recognition for her accomplishments during her lifetime. Alas, Ada’s disappointment was the world’s loss: had her contemporaries recognized the significance of her work, the digital age might have commenced decades sooner according to this intriguing biography by the author of Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age.

Sex Versus Survival: The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein
by John Launer

Although Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are household names, their colleague Sabina Spielrein is not. Yet this Russian Jewish physician and psychoanalyst shaped the landscape of 20th-century psychology. At age 18, her family committed her to an asylum, where her treatment inspired her to study medicine. Although her career is often overshadowed by her brief affair with Jung (dramatized in the 2011 film A Dangerous Method), Spielrein was the first psychiatric patient to become a mental health practitioner, and her groundbreaking work in the area of early childhood development would influence Jean Piaget, among others.

Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First…
by George D. Morgan

It wasn’t until Mary Sherman Morgan’s death in 2004 that her son, author George Morgan, learned of his mother’s contributions to rocket science. A chemist by training, Sherman Morgan was the only female analyst at North American Aviation, where she invented the propellant hydyne, used to launch the satellite Explorer 1 into orbit. Indeed, Sherman Morgan was such a private person that Wernher von Braun, in his correspondence, addressed her as “Unknown Lady.” Thanks to this book, which blends traditional biography and memoir, Mary Sherman Morgan — unlike so many pioneering female scientists — will no longer be unknown or anonymous.

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space
by Lynn Sherr

Physicist Sally Ride joined NASA in 1978 when the organization at last relaxed their ban on women and minorities. Beating out some 8,000 other applicants to become an astronaut candidate, Ride ultimately gained international fame as the first American woman to travel to space. It was a milestone that attracted a predictably intense level of media scrutiny, especially for a person who worked hard to keep her personal life separate from her professional identity. Indeed, it wasn’t until her death in 2012 that the world learned — via her obituary — that Ride was survived by her female partner of some 30 years. In addition to recounting the extraordinary life of an individual who broke barriers, this biography also describes the challenges faced by Ride and others on account of their gender and sexual orientation.

List created 7/7/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

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