Happy March, and happy Women’s History Month! This year’s women's history month theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” Yea STEM! That theme makes me want to kick off the month reading some great biographies of women in math and science with my tween daughter. After having to discuss the Oscar song, "We Saw Your Boobs" with my smart, sweet girl, I'm craving some time talking about women who draw attention with their most important body part - their mind.
A great website for book recommendations is A Mighty Girl, a website with the “world’s largest collection of books, toys, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.” It's a wonderful resource, and I’m especially partial to its large compilation of more than 240 biographies, memoirs or historical fiction books detailing the lives of inspirational women. Their book suggestions include books on these incredible yet lesser-known female scientists:
- May Chinn, one of the first Native American/African American woman doctors in the U.S;
- Heidi Hammel, a planetary astronomer;
- Emmy Noether, the Mother of Modern Algebra;
- Diane France, a forensic anthropologist;
- Miriam Rothschild, naturalist;
- Sylvia Earle, oceanographer;
- Mary Walker, a doctor for the Union during the Civil War;
- Caitlin O'Connell, the "elephant scientist";
- Temple Grandin, professor of animal science who is autistic;
- and America’s first professional astronomer, Maria Mitchell.
You can see the whole collection of titles here. They also provide a helpful breakdown of the books by age group, and the selections most appropriate for ages 9-12 can be found here. The tween books feature a wide range of heroes, including well-known female scientists like Marie Curie and Jane Goodall. What I loved most about this list, though, was the books about women in science with whom I am not familiar, and women whom my tween should know about and from whom she can learn. My tween likes reading biographies, and I love that she has real life examples of women accomplishing great things and overcoming hardships.
The list is a great resource not just for Women’s History Month but also for school biography projects in any grade, as well as science education. For adults looking to read something more grown up, Good Reads has a Popular Women in Science page with some interesting biography selections and reviews.
I love science. My parents let me doing an evening enrichment course in elementary school and there was a variety of subject choices - I picked the science class. It was awesome. The woman teaching that class was also my high school chemistry teacher. Chemistry was awesome. I've always felt like I disappointed her a bit by not going into science (turns out I never could've hacked the math), but she made it clear that women and science go together hand in hand.
When my daughter was in preschool, she was the only girl in the park district kids science class. I was proud, but wondered where the other girls were. I don't quite know I feel about months like Women's History Month, but I do appreciate the focus on STEM and that it serves as a reminder and motivation to do something like this biography project, something fun and easy and important. You can learn more about the National Women's History Project here.
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