Women in Science – Lab Girl

Science is a boy’s club.

Recently I was scanning our catalogue for books to put on display and I came across a cover that immediately grabbed my attention. The book was “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. My interest was immediately spiked as my undergraduate degree was in science, specifically biology.

“Lab Girl” is not only a memoir of the author’s life but also a tribute to her love of all things green. Jahren a geobiologist raised in small town Minnesota, is currently working at the University of Hawaii, where she has established three laboratories dedicated to the study of trees, flowers, and seeds. “Lab Girl” takes us through all the major milestones of Jahren’s life – her lonely childhood in Minnesota; her foray into science while at University; her auspicious friendship and adventures with lab partner Bill; her falling in love and the complications of being a woman in science. She then connects them beautifully with the mysterious and enchanting world of plants, giving the reader some in depth knowledge of the lifecycle of different fauna. Through this she was able to connect the similarities of the growth of people with that of plants, but acknowledge that in the end we are vastly different.

Lab Girl

What I really enjoyed was the simple way she explained all the bogged down details of academic research- especially her blatant push for donations to her own lab. From her descriptive snippets, you can clearly see her love and respect for plant life. I liked how she expertly connected both the science of plants to her own life which made the book feel less disjointed. In the end, you understand this book is about survival. Her survival in the male dominant world of science and the multiple complication that go along with that. And the survival of plant life in this continuously changing and developing world.

Girls don’t do science or at least not as well as the guys. 

This is a commonly held belief in our world and has been for a long time. A lot of very great female scientists grew up with this being thought as more fact then stereotype. Lucky for us there have been some amazing women that never let that get in their way. Check out the following titles that highlight women in science. Some of these works are fictitious accounts of real women, while others are biographical accounts.