7 Stunning Books About Women in Science To Add to Your TBR

Feeling thankful for the dishwasher after dishes pile up in the sink? This is one of the many inventions crafted by women scientists.

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Life rafts, home security systems, wireless transmission technology, laser cataract surgery, and computer software are just a few of the millions of brilliant inventions crafted by women. Often overshadowed in a field dominated by men, it’s necessary to not overlook the impact of women in our modern world of science and technology. Below are a few novels from the female perspective dedicated to educating others about the breakthroughs female scientists uncovered and the trials and tribulations they underwent.

1. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Hope Jahren's 'Lab Girl' book cover, depicting a sprout growing from dirt and tweezers holding an acorn.

Geochemist and geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying fossilized plants and pioneering research that led to her discovery of the second methane hydrate release event. Her award-winning novel recounts Jahren’s accomplishments but also her life– from a childhood fascination and solace in science to adventures across the Atlantic to personal findings in her lab at home. This moving piece educates readers on paleobiology and also on life as a woman within a man’s world.

2. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

Caroline Criado Perez's 'Invisible Women'.

Nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Science and Technology (2019) and winner of the Business Book of the Year, Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men displays how bias and discrimination are detrimental to women anywhere and everywhere. This includes in women’s lives at home, to the workplace, and even to the grocery store. Acclaimed author Caroline Criado Pérez looks at the data and science that makes it so much harder for women everywhere to be seen as the norm.

3. Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini

Angela Saini's 'Inferior' book cover, depicting a woman with her eyes hidden.

It should be no secret that scientists have not put nearly enough effort into women as they do studying men. Even common, childhood misconceptions like “boys are faster than girls” and “boys are better than girls at math” just prove that this lack of research and understanding perpetuates stereotypes and belittles women from a young age. With a new wave of research, Angela Saini reevaluates old stances on gender differences within intelligence, emotion, cognition, and biology. Inferior paints a new portrait of women’s brains and their roles given the groundbreaking new scientific research.

4. Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Bundles

A'lelia Bundles' 'Self Made' book cover, depicting Octavia Spencer as Madam C.J. Walker.

Madam C. J. Walker, originally known as Sarah Breedlove, was a daughter of slaves, divorced by twenty, and a washerwoman for two decades, but became the first female African American millionaire. After creating the formula for an essential hair care product specifically for African-American women, she found herself with massive success and was thrust into the limelight. Written by Walker’s great-great-grandaughter, A’Lelia Bundles depicts Madam C.J. Walker’s incredible brilliance, philanthropy, and inspiring life story.

5. Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough Ideas by Ethlie Ann Vare & Greg Ptacek

The book cover for 'Patently Female' by Ethlie Ann Vare & Greg Ptacek, depicting a TV dinner.

This very informative account is a catalog of modern inventions constructed or thought of by women. This book is great for assembling aspirations or simply acting as an education model and works well as a book you can come back to or read over a long period of time. From the Mars Rover to windshield wipers, this is an eye-opening chronicle about the unknown trials female inventors had to undergo while crafting designs that changed our lives.

6. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy

The book cover for Liza Mundy's 'Code Girls', depicting five female code breakers from World War II.

During World War II, many women shined in roles they previously didn’t have the opportunity to fill. In this novel, Liza Mundy outlines the phenomenal efforts made by a group of women who learned code-breaking and in the end, shortened the war and saved numerous lives. The story almost slipped past our history books due to the fact the women were sworn to secrecy, but Liza Mundy’s dedicated research and endless interviews unearth the untold story.

7. A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman: A Memoir by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

The book cover for Lindy Elkins-Tanton's 'A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman', depicting planets.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton is a planetary scientist and the Principal Investigator of NASA’s mission to study a massive asteroid called Psyche. Elkins-Tanton spends these pages revisiting the journey that started with finding comfort in science redefining what science means from a female perspective to writing the Psyche proposal while battling cancer, and, finally, presenting her findings. A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman explores such complex concepts of how science reformulates meaning and the universe.

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