Once upon a time (actually, not that long ago!) women were discouraged from and sometimes prohibited to explore careers in science, to the point that many of our most prestigious universities would not allow women to enroll. How times have changed! This book, part of the “Major Women in Science” series, features nine women who have distinguished themselves in their fields. Rachel Carson, who in her landmark book, Silent Spring, warned the world about the dangers of pesticides (no birds due to pesticides, no bird songs: a silent spring). Dr. Joan Berkowitz has worked in the field of waste management. Kenya-born Wangari Maathai, concerned about deforestation, worked tirelessly for environmental conservation, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She was the first African woman to receive such an honor. Dr. Elvia Niebla, soil scientist, was a member of the Environmental Protection Agency and advised young women, “Pursue [your] interests no matter what they are.” Dr. Susan Solomon led the 1986 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) expedition to Antarctica to investigate the hole in the ozone layer. Dr. Dianne Gates-Anderson managed to earn her PhD in environmental engineering while she was a single mother. She studies hazardous waste and waste management. Dr. Stephanie Pfirman earned her PhD in marine geology and studies the ice at the North Pole. Finally, Dr. Lena Ma studies soil science. Each of these women’s stories has additional book titles to read and ways to find out more about individual areas of study. The book features information about what it takes to become an environmental scientist. While I applaud the fact that this book and series could encourage young female readers to pursue the sciences, I have a couple of issues. First, the book rarely mentions women working in marine systems. Since the earth is about seventy-five percent water, this is a glaring omission (so what’s with the dolphin on the cover design?). Second, I would like to see some contemporary women scientists who work on our oceans. Dr. Sylvia Earle, internationally known biological oceanographer, and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a marine ecologist who served as head of NOAA under President Obama during his first term come to mind. Reviewer: Judy Crowder; Ages 15 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—A unique look at how women have influenced science, this series focuses on five different fields and the scientists (both current and throughout history) who've helped shape them. The books, broken down into clearly labeled chapters and subject headings, are text-heavy and dense with information, and the format is a bit off-putting. Large information boxes with white font on red backgrounds occasionally break up the texts, which are rather crowded on the pages. "Words to Know" (with the vocabulary words in red throughout the chapters) and "Find Out More" sections are at the end of each chapter. There is some weak writing in places (e.g. "More important, talk to a real scientist!"). Despite these shortcomings, these volumes, in which the final chapters focus on career opportunities for women in the sciences, will encourage girls to embrace STEM.