Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wonder Women - Sam Maggs

Title: Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Author: Sam Maggs
Publisher: Quirk Books, 2016 (Hardcover)
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Young Adult/Adult; Nonfiction
Started: January 12, 2017
Finished: January 13, 2017

From the inside cover:

You may think you know women's history pretty well. But have you heard of...

Alice Ball, the chemist who developed an effective treatment for leprosy - only to have the credit taken by a man?

Mary Sherman Morgan, the rocket scientist whose liquid fuel compounds blasted the first U.S. satellite into orbit?

Huang Daopo, the inventor whose weaving technology revolutionized textile production in China - centuries before the cotton gin?

Smart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, even when the odds were stacked against them. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors. Plus, interviews with real-life women in STEM careers, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to women-centric science and technology organizations - all to show the many ways the geeky girls of today can help to build the future.

Another well-received Christmas gift, and an appropriate second book for this author after her first, The Fangirls' Guide to the Galaxy, (which I also enjoyed immensely).

This book features in-depth profiles of twenty-five women throughout history that contributed in a significant way to various fields: Science, Medicine, Espionage, Innovation, and Adventure. The author actually writes about more than twenty-five total since an additional handful of women are mentioned in brief snippets at the end of each chapter. One thing I have to really give the author credit for is that she's chosen a really nice variety of historical women, from the cultural backgrounds (there's several East Asian women featured, and it's balanced against the North American and European choices), to the sexual orientations and gender non-conforming women as well (her sarcastic "gals being pals" references had me cracking up while reading). Another thing that's striking is realizing how ignorant I actually am about important contributions made by women throughout history (as someone who considers herself a history buff), and I realize that media and schooling systems were and still are partly to blame, hence why I really try to include a more gender-balanced portrayal in my lessons with my own students. I appreciate the interviews with modern-day women in STEM fields, and the STEM website list and detailed bibliography at the end are really lovely additions that make this a book I really wish had existed for me when I was in high school 15-18 years ago. As the author says, representation matters, and girls can't be what they can't see, or in this case, don't have the opportunity to even learn existed.

A must-read, not only for the wealth of historical information being presented here, but for the humorous writing style and lovely illustrations.

Thoughts on the cover:
Nicely laid out, and the orange and cream colour scheme is strangely appealing as well.

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