Recomended Reading - women in stem history

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Last week, in honor of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I shared the first of four monthly recurring series for the Femmes of STEM blog. That series will be celebrating modern women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by highlighting scientists on social media, from bloggers to youtubers to instagrammers. 

This week, I’m happy to kick off the Femmes of STEM recommended reading series! Every third Monday of the month, we’ll be publishing a curated recommended reading list featuring books and articles we’ve come across while doing research for the podcast (or have received as recommendations from you!). We’ve amassed a solid list of resources and reading material on women in science, the history of STEM, intersections of feminist theory and sociology in STEM… and that’s just the start.

Our first round of books is all about women in STEM history. From straightforward biographies of individual scientists to feminist analyses of entire fields, you’ll find at least a few books to pique your interest. See the full list below and come back next month for a new edition of #FoSreads!


Hypatia's Sisters, Biographies of Women Scientists, Past and Present. Susan Schacher, 1976.

Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940. Margaret W. Rossier, 1984.

Hypatia's Heritage. Margaret Alic, 1986.

Uneasy Careers and Intimate Lives: Women in Science, 1789-1979. Pnina Abir-Am, 1987.

The Mind Has No Sex?: Women in the Origins of Modern Science. Londa Schiebinger, 1991.

Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action, 1940-1972. Margaret W. Rossieter, 1995.

History of Women in the Sciences: Readings from Isis. Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, 1999.

The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century, Volume 1. Marilyn Ogilvie. 2000.

Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries. Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, 2001.

International Women in Science: A Biographical Dicitonary to 1950. Catharine Haines, Helen Stevens. 2001.

The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives From Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century‬. Harvey Ogilivie and M Rossiter (eds). 2003.

Women and Science: Social Impact and Interaction. Suzanne Sheffield, 2005.

Avenging Agnodice: The Struggles and Successes of Female Scientists, Antiquity to Present. Nancy L. Swanson, 2005.

The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science. Julie Des Jardins, 2010.

Women Scientists in America: Forging a New World since 1972. Margaret W. Rossiter, 2012.

Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine. Pendred Noyce. 2015.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World. Rachel Swaby, 2015.

Remarkable Minds: 17 More Pioneering Women in Science and Medicine. Pendred Noyce. 2016

A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War. Patricia Fara. 2018.

Ten Women Who Changed Science, and the World. Catherine Whitlock and Rhodri Evans. 2018.

Biology and Natural History

Women in the Field: America's Pioneering Women Naturalists. Marcia Myers Bonta, 1991.

On Her Own Terms: Annie Montague Alexander and the Rise of Science in the American West. Barbara R. Stein, 2001.

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. Brenda Maddox, 2003.

Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis. Kim Todd, 2007.

Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man. Dale Peterson, 2008.

The Fossil Hunter: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World. Shelley Emling, 2011.

The Discover of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, The High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe. Glynis Ridley, 2011.

Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America's Environment. Robert K Musil, 2014.

Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer. Sarah B. Pomeroy, 2018.


Harriet Brooks: Pioneer Nuclear Scientist. Geoggrey Rayner-Canham and Marelen Rayner-Canham. 1994.

A Devotion to Their Science: Pioneer Women of Radioactivity. Geoggrey Rayner-Canham and Marelen Rayner-Canham. 1997.

Ladies in the Laboratory? American and British Women in Science, 1800-1900: A Survey of their Contributions to Research. Mary Creese. 2000.

Women in Chemistry: Their Changing Roles from Alchemical Times to the Mid-twentieth Century. Geoggrey Rayner-Canham and Marelen Rayner-Canham. 2001.

Ladies in the Laboratory II: West European Women in Science, 1800-1900 : a Survey of Their Contributions to Research. Mary Creese. 2004.

Chemistry Was Their Life: Pioneering British Women Chemists. Geoggrey Rayner-Canham and Marelen Rayner-Canham. 2008.

Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian Women in Science: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries. Mary Creese and Thomas Creese. 2010.

European Women in Chemistry. Jan Apotheker and Livia Simon Sarkadi. 2011.

African American Women Chemists. Jeannette Brown. 2012.

Ladies in the Laboratory IV: Imperial Russia's Women in Science, 1800-1900: A Survey of Their Contributions to Research. Mary Creese. 2015.

Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World. Winifred Conkling. 2016.


Women in Mathematics. Lynn M. Osen, 1975.

Women of Mathematics: A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook. Louise S. Grinsten and Paul J. Campbell, 1987.

Women in Mathematics: The Addition of Difference. Claudia Henrion, Indiana University Press. 1997.

Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary. Charlene Morrow and Teri Perl; 1998.

Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity in Post–World War II America, Murray, MIT Press. 2001.

Complexities: Women in Mathematics, Case and Leggett, Princeton University Press.

Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr. Michael A. B. Deakin, 2007.

Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhDs, Green and LaDuke, American Mathematical Society & London Mathematical Society. 2008.

Emmy Noether: The Mother of Modern Algebra. M. Tent, 2014.

Ada's Algorithm: How Lord Byron's Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age. James Essinger, 2015.

Hypatia (Women in Antiquity). Edward J. Watts, 2017.

Emmy Noether's Wonderful Theorem. Dwight E. Neunschwander, 2017.


Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers. Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, 1993.

Making Women's Medicine Masculine: The Rise of Male Authority in Pre-Modern Gynaecology. Monica H. Green, 2008.

Women Pioneers of Medical Research: Biographies of 25 Outstanding Scientists. King-Thom Chung. 2009.

Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life. Georgina Ferry, 2014.


Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics. Ruth Lewin Sime, 1997.

Madame Curie: A Biography. Eve Curie, 2001.

Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie. B Goldsmith, 2005.

Emilie Du Chatelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment. Judith P. Zinser, 2007.

Seduced by Logic: Émilie Du Châtelet, Mary Somerville and the Newtonian Revolution. Robyn Arianrhod, 2012.

Laura Bassi and Science in 18th Century Europe: The Extraordinary Life and Role of Italy's Pioneering Female Professor. Monique Frize, 2013.

Madame Chien-Shiung Wu: The First Lady of Physics. Tsai-chien Chiang, translated by Wong Tang-Fong, 2014.

Beyond Curie: Four Women in Physics and Their Remarkable Discoveries, 1903 to 1963. Scott Calvin, 2017.

Technology and Engineering

Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges. Annie Canel and Ruth Oldenziel, 2000.

Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age. Kurt. W. Beyer, 2012.

Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. Richard Rhodes, 2012.

Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Engineering Education for Women. Amy Sue Bix, 2014.


Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: An Autobiography and Other Recollections. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, 1996.

The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight. Martha Ackmann, 2004.

Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America's First Women in Space Program. Margaret A. Weitekamp, 2005.

Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe. George Johnson, 2006.

Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist. George D. Morgan, 2013.

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space. Lynn Sherr, 2015.

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars. Dava Sobel, 2016.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. Margot Lee Shetterly, 2016.

Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Nathalia Holt, 2017.

Did we miss a book that belongs on this list? Do you have ideas for future themes? Submit a suggestion here.