GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 200-8
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


JOHNSON, Beth A., University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, 1478 Midway Rd, Menasha, WI 54952

Society is currently experiencing a popular trend in publishing: promoting the achievements of women in science. However, the majority of women presented in such publications are only from a few fields, with geoscientists rarely included. This lack of exposure may have detrimental effects for efforts trying to increase participation in geosciences. This study examined juvenile and young adult nonfiction books from public libraries on the subject of women and science. These books contained multiple summaries of women scientists and were examined to determine how many women and which sciences they represented. Scientists were separated into one of four science categories: Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics/Astronomy.

A total of thirty-six books were included in this study and fell into three categories of books: women in science, women in space, and exceptional women of all backgrounds. The books ranged in publication date from the years 2000 to 2018. The greatest number of books published were between the years of 2014-2018. These books contained 353 entries or sidebars on women scientists. Of these, the highest group profiled was in Physics/Astronomy with 43% of the entries. Only 10% of the profiled women were geologists and of the thirty-six books examined, only eighteen of them mentioned any geologist at all. A total of eighteen women geoscientists were profiled, most only once, and the vast majority of entries were on Mary Anning (33%). The next closest were Marie Tharp and Adriana C. Ocampo, each with 8.3%. Even with books specifically dedicated to women in science and even containing “Women in Science” in the titles, women geoscientists are only included for 8% of the entries and don’t appear in some books of that title at all.

There have been attempts to rectify the lack of geoscientists presented in books on women in science. In recent years, books such as Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor and Daring to Dig: Adventures of Women in American Paleontology have been published to encourage more girls to study earth science. However, these books were not available at any library included in this study, so are not influencing the girls in these communities. If women continue to remain invisible, few girls will see geosciences as a science at all, much less one they can study.