Name three prominent scientists who aren’t men.
I don’t remember where I encountered this question, but it found me wanting a few years ago. Why was it so easy to rattle off the names of men (Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Watson and Crick) but not women? My mind’s hero file—names stashed away from various science fairs, book reports, and TV specials—seems fully stocked with men. I’m playing catch-up now.
I want a greater variety of heroes to populate my kids’ subconscious than what I had growing up. Here are some recommendations that I’ve enjoyed as much as my kids. Please add your own in the comments.
BCC’s own Ashmae Hoiland created this awesome set of cards featuring sixty original portraits of women from around the world on the front, and short readable bios on the back. For some reason my daughter is fascinated by Amelia Earhart. Every time the cards come out that’s the one we have to read first.
It goes without saying that men vastly outnumber women in the scriptures. This set of books offers a counterbalance by highlighting women from the Bible and Book of Mormon. (I’d be surprised to see a Doctrine and Covenants volume, considering only one* non-biblical woman’s name appears there. You know who it is, right? [*Actually two! Forgot Vienna Jacques in second 90. Typical. Thanks, JKC.])
I love the style of these portraits. The stories sensitively present women as more than appendages to men. These are some of Deseret Book’s best publications.
I love this book. As with Ashmae’s We Brave Women cards, GNS features original portraits of 100 women alongside their stories. Sixty female artists contributed an array of styles. The book format allows more space for more detailed stories, many of which begin with the formulaic “Once upon a time…” Depending on your child’s age, you might want to read through the stories before reading them together. You’ll need to be prepared to talk about racism, sexism, abuse, and other difficult topics. My daughter immediately discovered Amelia Earhart and asked my wife to read it to her. Her face went from excited to worried as the full story unfolded. Here she discovered that Earhart didn’t make it around the world. That brought on an interesting conversation…
So much variety in this book: scientists, ballerinas, writers, queens, doctors, activists, artists, musicians, singers, spies, politicians—even a pirate. Another reason I like this book is because its array of women aren’t all perfect, they don’t all fit my comfort zone. I want my kids to be able to wrestle with, recognize, and respect differences.
The price tag is a bit hefty at $35, but the book is gorgeously produced and sturdy. My one complaint is the title. I wish they’d called it Good Night Stories of Rebel Girls. Our sons need these stories, too.
(Back to the original question: Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, and Ada Lovelace.)