A collective biography of 20 groundbreaking women in science.
Arranged chronologically, the compilation begins with Ellen Swallow Richards, a white geochemist born in 1842, who not only became the first woman to earn a degree in chemistry in the U.S., but used her research in nutrition, sanitation, and health to establish the first school-lunch program and first water-quality standards in the country. A few women who follow, such as Sylvia Earle, may be recognizable, but most will be new to readers. Each profile starts with an anecdote that describes the scientist’s childhood influences in the present tense before switching to the past tense to focus on her professional accomplishments and impact on science. A full-page portrait with clues to each woman’s focus and a concluding roundup of her major achievements, a reflective quote, and a “fascinating fact” accompany the profile as well. Freeman aims for diversity in both the range of disciplines covered and in the scientists themselves, who include Chinese pharmacologist Tu Youyou, African American physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, and Colombian geologist Adriana Ocampo. While the thematic emphasis, as the title suggests, is on the curiosity that drove each woman to pursue science, the profiles also highlight the role failure played in their paths and how they overcame such challenges as sexism, racism, illness, and disability to reach their goals.
An inspiring look at women who realized curiosity plus tenacity equals success. (afterword, glossary, source notes) (Collective biography. 8-12)