Book Review: Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World  by Laurie Lawlor profiles six amazing women who defied prejudice to succeed in the sciences using genius, ambition, and perseverance. Each of these pioneers refused to take no for an answer, pursuing their passions through fieldwork, observations, laboratories and research vessels in the face of sexism. Lawlor tells the stories of Eugenie Clark, an ichthyologist who swam with sharks; Marie Tharp, a cartographer who mapped the ocean floor; Katherine Coleman Johnson, a mathematician who calculated trajectories for NASA flights; Florence Hawley Ellis, an anthropologist of Pueblo cultures who pioneered tree-ring dating; Gertrude Elion, a pharmacologist who developed treatments for leukemia and AIDS; and Margaret Burbidge, an astrophysicist who formulated a theory of quasars.

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World  is all about women that have stood out in scientific fields that are still male dominated, and stood out in very important ways. The chosen women are nicely varied, and their stories are important. The hows and whys of each of these women fighting for their place in their fields of choice, and the factors that hindered or helped their progress. I would have liked more of the background history for some of this, but still found the shared information to be interesting and important. I think each of the biographies was long enough to give a good grasp of the woman described, but none were so long or ponderous that it would lose the attention of the children that this book is marketed toward. I did find some of the vocabulary to be a little advanced for some of the younger readers that might be interested in the subject matter, with few context clues to help them figure it out, but I almost expect this in any text dealing with scientists or science history. However, to counter this- if readers take a moment there is a wonderful glossary in the back of the book the help them. I just know must of the students I work with are not likely to check for that glossary on their own. 

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World is a nice selection of brief biographies of a few of the talented female scientists that have made important contributions over the years. While not a perfect text, it is a good start and can inspire young scientists and start conversations about what has, and has not, changed over the years. 

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