The promotion of women in math and science has long been a target for organizations like AAUW (American Association of University Women), STEM proponents(science, technology, engineering, math), and others – now two new books explain how women have been there all along, just without getting credit – Hidden Figures and Glass Universe.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley was recently made into a movie. I confess – I have not yet read the book, but after seeing the movie, I have it on my library reserve list – waiting with 84 prospective readers before me. Based on the lives of real women who worked at NASA during the exciting birth of space travel, the story also reveals the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement and the indignities suffered by women today admired as geniuses.
I recently listened to a discussion by a group of women about the definition of “genius,” and sadly observed the term still seems to designate the talents of established white men. Literature and the arts were also omitted as candidates. In Hidden Figures, the geniuses were not only women, they were black women.
The title of Glass Universe – How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars reminds me of the glass ceiling women have yet to crack in the United States – in politics anyway – and the disparity in salaries – mentioned in both books. Dave Sobel’s book focuses on the women working under Pickering at the Harvard College Observatory and their groundbreaking work in astronomy. Only six readers are ahead of me on this wait list – the advantage of not having the movie made yet.
Have you read these books yet?