Cover image for American women scientists : 23 inspiring biographies, 1900-2000
American women scientists : 23 inspiring biographies, 1900-2000
Reynolds, Moira Davison.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 149 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
Q141 .R44 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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For most of the 20th century, American women had little encouragement to become scientists. In 1906, there were only 75 female scientists employed by academic institutions in the entire country. Despite considerable barriers, determined women have, however, decidedly distinguished themselves. Three examples of this are: astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, who discovered five novas and over 300 variable stars; mathematician and computer scientist Grace Hopper, who helped to invent the COBOL language; and anaesthesiologist Virginia Apgar who devised the universally used Apgar score to make a rapid evaluation of a newborn's condition just after delivery.

Author Notes

Moira Davison Reynolds, a retired biochemist. She lives in Marquette, Michigan

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Four-to-six page profiles of 23 of the century's premier women scientists, representing a wide variety of disciplines. The entries are arranged chronologically beginning with Cornelia Clapp (1849-1934) and ending with Mary Good (1931-). While undoubtedly remarkable, the subjects receive rather dry treatment and the remarks about their appearance seem superfluous. For instance, Reynolds writes, "Florence [Sabin] accepted the fact that she lacked good looks and had to wear glasses." The author then surmises that this may have led to Sabin's rejection of marriage. Such references and the ensuing subjective comments mar the book's otherwise scholarly approach. Details of the scientists' work and experiments are provided, often using jargon without clarifying terms, e.g., "sympathetic ganglia," thus requiring further research. Each entry includes a black-and-white portrait. In some cases, the biographies read like resumes, merely listing the women's numerous accomplishments. In spite of its flaws, the book's broad scope renders it useful to those in need of this information. An epilogue examines the scientists' lives as a whole and draws parallels to determine the factors that led to their tremendous successes.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Twenty-three biographies of American women scientists, covering a wide array of fields, compose this collection: it is definitely intended as an introduction, and its most likely readers would be high school students, particularly girls, who wonder what it might be like to be, for example, an astronomer, a physicist, a pediatrician, a geneticist, or a computer programmer. Those selected are, understandably, from the 20th century and include women such as Barbara McClintock, Karen Homey, and Rachel Carson, whose names would probably be familiar to at least some potential readers, and others, less well known, such as Cornelia Clapp, Libbie Hyman, and Grace Hopper. The style is simple and easily understood; the science that is presented is clear and readily accessible but necessarily simplified (the biographies are only three to nine pages long). The principal objective of this book appears to be to inspire young women to pursue scientific careers, and consequently there is an emphasis on family life, personal characteristics that enabled these women to succeed, and tributes that have been paid to them. Brief index; two-page introduction. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. M. H. Chaplin; Wellesley College

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. 1
Introductionp. 3
Cornelia Clappp. 5
Nettie Stevensp. 9
Florence Bascomp. 13
Annie Jump Cannonp. 18
Alice Hamiltonp. 22
Florence Sabinp. 31
Josephine Bakerp. 36
Mary Swartz Rosep. 42
Karen Horneyp. 46
Libbie Hymanp. 54
Gerty Corip. 58
Helen Taussigp. 63
Barbara McClintockp. 69
Virginia Apgarp. 77
Maria Goeppert Mayerp. 81
Grace Hopperp. 88
Rita Levi-Montalcinip. 95
Rachel Carsonp. 104
Chien-Shiung Wup. 112
Ruth Sagerp. 119
Gertrude Elionp. 123
Rosalyn Yalowp. 129
Mary Goodp. 135
Epiloguep. 139
Bibliographyp. 143
Indexp. 147