GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 73-7
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM


LEWANDOWSKI, Katherine J., Department of Geology-Geography, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Ave, Charleston, IL 61920

In an effort to analyze books that have been published about women in science over the last decade, a database project was born. Using the WorldCat database, all books published in English since 2009 were searched to identify books published about women in science, excluding social science, political science, and military science. For this part of the project, only books for non-juveniles were used.

Over the last decade, 50 published books were appropriate for inclusion in this study. In analyzing the subjects of the books, there are a few women scientists that commonly appear. Marie Curie is by far the most popular subject of biographies about a woman in science. Rachel Carson is also a popular subject. While these two women are most likely to be the subject of a biography, they are also often included along with other scientists in what is called biography collections in this study; these are books composed of lots of short entries, maybe up to a few pages, highlighting the contributions of the scientist, in a longer book. Women geologists are vastly under-represented in the literature. Marie Tharp and Mary Anning were the most likely geology/earth science subjects, both headlining biographies and as part of biography collections.

While the vast majority of the books included in this study were biographies about a single scientist, other types of books were also included. Memoirs and autobiographies, as well as historical accounts of certain groups of women scientists, such as Mary Bruck’s 2009 book, Stars and Satellites: Women in Early British and Irish Astronomy, were deemed appropriate for the study. In addition, books about the challenges of pursuing a scientific career as a woman were also included.

An assumption made here is that reading books, such as those cataloged in this study, is one way in which young women will be encouraged or discouraged to pursue studies in different scientific areas. Obviously, other factors, such as education, mentoring, and support, are more important in actually feeding women scientists into the pipeline. While most of these books were available to the author through interlibrary loan, many do not appear in small town libraries; thus, lack of access to these women’s stories may be an issue for young women who do not have access to a university library.