WOMEN IN SCIENCE: Recovering the Life Within by Vivian Gornick

WOMEN IN SCIENCE: Recovering the Life Within

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Having discovered feminism some time ago, Gornick has now effusively discovered science: ""Science, like feminism, looks at that which has always been there to be seen, and as it 'sees' for the first time it describes a new world. . . . Both are filled with urgency and conviction. . . recovering the truths of the life within. . . ."" The book goes on and on, rhapsodizing and romanticizing science, in Gornick's admittedly impressionistic, enthusiastic way. She further admits that she has not attempted to make a comparative study of men and women, nor a statistical survey, nor a sociological analysis: ""What after all was to be gained in paying shallow homage to the dictates of social science?"" The answer: more serious attention to her book. As it is, the contents consists mainly of pseudonymous capsule interviews--presented with the deft personal detail and concision of a competent journalist--of a lot of mostly unhappy women, all of whom apparently exemplify Gornick's thesis that ""Every woman receives a mixed message about love and work in her youth. For most, the contradiction is paralyzing."" En masse, these women evoke neither sympathy nor righteous indignation. En masse, they emerge as woeful or woebegone, sometimes whiners and sometimes connivers. (One is glad, often, that pseudonyms were used.) No one can deny that women have suffered inequalities of pay, opportunity, tenure. The women's movement has made a difference, no question about it. But to cast older women scientists as de-sexed bluestockings, the middle-aged group as embittered laboratory drones, and the young as a new breed born of feminism is sheer excess that puts the whole book in question. Balance is not to be found here, nor even reasonable descriptions of what science is about. Some feminist interest, though, can be presumed.

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1983
Publisher: Simon & Schuster