Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Women in astronomy

Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science is one of those books that makes me think, "wow, someone other than me finds this stuff interesting?"

Renée Berglund's post at Beacon Broadside makes me want to read the book even more. I sense an upcoming Non-Fiction Monday post here.
"On one hand, it’s exciting to realize that there was a time (not that long ago) when a girl like the young Maria Mitchell grew up believing that there was nothing preventing her from achieving scientific greatness. On the other hand, it’s a bit discouraging to realize that when I was born in New York City in the late twentieth century, the odds were worse for girls in astronomy than they had been when Mitchell was born on Nantucket more than a hundred and fifty years before.
There’s a problem with stories of triumph against all odds. As long as we cling to the belief that truly great and heroic figures don’t need encouragement or good opportunities, we’re giving our society permission not to create opportunities. The realization that Mitchell was encouraged by her family and by a community that was willing to support her efforts to achieve scientific greatness shouldn’t be depressing at all. To the contrary, it should push us to create similar opportunities today."


HipWriterMama said...

This sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Colleen said...

I've been waiting for an interesting take on Mitchell ever since I read Thomas Mallon's book about a female astronmer at the Naval Observatory, "Two Moons".

Thanks so much for posting on this one - just added it to my Powells list!

Carter said...

Hello, Sarah--

I want to thank you for recommending the Mitchell book. We at The Internet Review of Books are always on the lookout for interesting books that may not get a lot of publicity so we can review them, and this looks like a good pick.

I just asked Beacon to send me a review copy. Would you like to review it for our May issue? Then you won't have to buy it. :-)


Carter Jefferson, Editor
The Internet Review of Books

Sarah Rettger said...

Carter, I'd be delighted. I didn't see your e-mail address in your Blogger profile, but if you send me an e-mail at escritorasarita @ gmail, we can take care of the specifics.

Christina said...

Hey! This book sounds really great - I'll have to check it out. (I know you wrote about this a while ago, but I have been completely absent from the blogging scene for no good reason.) Also, I told you about James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, right? I'm about a third of the way though, and it's completely fantastic: highly recommended. Of course, I have to read about anesthesia tonight :( ... hope everything is well with you!