Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Headstrong Part II


It's time to talk about the second half of Headstrong, the book that features awesome lady scientists. We are at the end, and I am really happy I read this book. I would love to make these brilliant women known to other people, especially my children. Because I have one girl and one boy, I realize that it is equally important to teach my daughter and my son that women can do amazing things in science. I hope that when they read books like this one, they won't be surprised at the contributions women have made to scientific fields; instead, they will take for granted that women can be accomplished in any career they choose to pursue.

Here are some of my favorites from these sections:
Irene Joliot-Curie continued the scientific tradition of her family and discovered the first artificially produced radioactive element. Chien-Shiung Wu proved that the nucleus is not symmetrical. Annie Jump Carson categorized hundreds of thousands of stars. Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor and proved that continental drift was real. Sophie Kowalevski was an important theoretical mathematician and Grace Hopper designed computer programs and worked for the Navy.


1. Did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
I guess it isn't surprising, but I was frustrated by the consistency with which scientists got no credit for their work and had to work as "voluntary unpaid professors." Sigh. On the positive side, I was really impressed by these women who refused to take no for an answer and worked wherever they could, even in home labs or in one case, an actual closet.

2. If you had to go to work in any of the scientific fields described in this book, which one would you choose and why?
I think I would go into medicine. I am fascinated by the way the body works and I was especially impressed by scientists like Florence Nightingale who used science to change the face of public health.

3. Inspired by a comment by Kim of Time 2 Read, I’m curious – How do you feel about Sally Ride’s recommendation that NASA focus their efforts more here on Earth?
 I think it's always going to be about making time for both. We need to explore and care for the planet. We don't have the time or resources to explore the stars if we have destroyed Earth. And I have to imagine that we can learn some things about other planets by looking at our own.

4. Are there any other books that you’d recommend for further reading on science history, especially female scientists?
 This question is making me feel sad, because I'm realizing that I really haven't done a lot of reading about science. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, which is a fun re-imagining told through comics. I'm looking forward to seeing how other readers answer this question, so I can add to my reading list!

Thank you to Katie for hosting this readalong and make sure to visit her blog to find out what other readers thought about Headstrong!


  1. I should look for that book! I've never read a 'graphic' novel, and I keep saying I want to. That may be one to start with!

    It seems I am taking an opposite view of everyone else on the NASA question. I understand that we should do everything possible to care for our planet and preserve our resources. I guess I just want an 'exit strategy'. I'm coming from the view point that our planet is not sustainable indefinitely. Though it will be millions of years from now, at some point the sun will burn out and the energy needed to sustain life will not be available on our planet. I guess I'm looking way in the future and want humans to be able to relocate at that point. I know..I know....I watch too many sic-fi movies!

    1. That makes a lot of sense. I'm still hopeful that we can save the planet, but I guess the condition of Earth doesn't matter much if the sun burns out!

  2. This has made me realize how little I know about science history too! There are so many interesting people in this book, men and women, who I've never heard of, despite the amazing work they did. And I'd love to discover more books to read to help fill in my knowledge gap :)