A Matter of Choices: Memoirs of a Female Physicist

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New Brunswick, NJ 1994 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 248 p. Lives of Women in Science.

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Overview


When Fay Ajzenberg-Selove became a nuclear physicist, the number of women in the field could be counted on one hand. In this engaging memoir, Fay Ajzenberg-Selove writes candidly about her difficult journey to international recognition in physics. She is frank about the ways being a woman has made a difference in her opportunities and choices as a scientist--and how, by being a woman, she has made a difference in the world of physics.

Ajzenberg-Selove came to America at the age of 15 after narrowly escaping the Nazi takeover of France. She had planned to become an engineer like her father, but switched to physics after she was told the only engineering jobs open to women were in drafting: Marie Curie's example proved to her that women could do physics. Her first attempt at graduate work at Columbia University was a disaster, but she was sturck with the intellectual beauty of the field. After taking a Ph.D. in physics at University of Wisconsin, she did post-doctoral work with Thomas Lauritsen at the California Institute of Technology, where she began writing the first of a series of major review papers on the nuclear spectroscopy of the light nuclei, a subject of fundamental importance to nuclear physics, astrophysics, and applied physics. She continued this work and experimental research for thirty-eight years while teaching at Boston University, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

During her early career, Ajzenberg-Selove was shielded by her male mentors from experiencing much of the discrimination directed against women in science. Her simultaneous battles to become a tenured professor and to overcome breast cancer opened her eyes and confirmed her as a feminist.

The lay reader and the scientist alike will be fascinated by Ajzenberg-Selove's clear portrayal of her interlinked lives as physicist, teacher, wife of particle physicist, Walter Selove, and a woman who relishes both competition and friendship in a male-dominated field. An invaluable book for anyone contemplating a career in science.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The author, a professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania who is married to the physicist Walter Selove, wrote this book to understand why she became who she is. Born in Berlin in 1926, she escaped the Nazi invasion of Europe with her parents in 1940 and came to the United States. After a brief stay in Cuba, she attended school in New York and, later, the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Columbia University, and the University of Wisconsin, where she obtained her Ph.D. in physics. She gained tenure at the University of Pennsylvania via a discrimination suit in 1973, developed breast cancer at the age of 44, and again ten years later. Unfortunately, many of the professional problems she has faced still plague women today. But thanks to the efforts of women like her, some progress is being made. A heartfelt look at a difficult life. Recommended.-- Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Livermore, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813520353
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1994
  • Series: Lives of Women in Science
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.71 (d)

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