Girls and Science


Some interesting books that examine the roles of girls and women in the history of the sciences:

The Green Glass Sea  by Ellen Klages

Set in 1943, this novel follows 10-year-old Dewey as she heads west to join her father who’s working on a secret government project at Los Alamos, NM.  Mechanically-minded Dewey feels right at home among her father’s colleagues, scientists (male and female) who are excited to be working on ‘the gadget’ that they hope will end the war.  Dewey doesn’t do as well with her classmates, though, and she finds herself picked on and teased relentlessly.  An interesting read for all ages, this book reminds us how different one’s attitude can be when one doesn’t yet know the outcome of the experiment.  The scene describing the families gathered on picnic blankets to watch the test of the bomb is spine-chilling.  And you’ll have to read to the end to discover the meaning of the title!   There is a sequel, White Sands, Red Menace that explores more fully the ethical questions raised by this work.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

It’s the sweltering summer of 1899 and Calpurnia Virginia Tate, the lone girl in a family full of boys, is the only one who seems able to relate to their grandfather.  He’s an avid naturalist and everyone (except Callie) is a bit afraid of the strange specimens he keeps in jars in his shed out back.  To escape the heat, Callie tags along on his trips to the river.  As he begins to teach her about the world around her, he discovers that she’s an exceptional and enthusiastic pupil.  More practical and concerned about her daughter’s future, Mother insists that Callie have housekeeping and cookery lessons alongside the science.  What can the future hold for a girl interested in science as the 20th century arrives?

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women  by Catherine Thimmesh

A collection of short biographies, this book features women and girls who changed the world with their inventions, including Becky Schroeder, the youngest female to receive a patent.  Most of the inventions were borne of necessity, which certainly doesn’t diminish the ingenuity and hard work of the inventors.  The same author and illustrator followed this one with The Sky’s the Limit: Stories of Discovery by Women and Girls.

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

A more recent publication,  this one covers women from the ancient world to modern day.  Whimsically illustrated, there are enough inspirational stories here to sustain any girl interested in STEM or STEAM!


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Mae Jemison by Jodie Shepherd

For the younger crowd, this new biography of astronaut Mae Jemison is put out by Rookie Readers.  Its simple but informed text is paired with photographs to introduce new readers to this pioneering woman.  It will encourage them to reach for the stars!

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