International Women’s Day 2024: Women in STEM

Highlighting women changing the face of science and technology

At the MIT Press, we’re honored to publish women writers in male-dominated fields. For International Women’s Day, we are featuring just a few of our female authors in STEM that we published in recent months—with books covering topics from data science and nanoscience to cardiac research and psychology. Read on to explore more below, and find more books from diverse voices here

The Exquisite Machine: The New Science of the Heart by Sian E. Harding

Your heart is a miracle in motion, a marvel of construction unsurpassed by any human-made creation. It beats 100,000 times every day—if you were to live to 100, that would be more than 3 billion beats across your lifespan. Despite decades of effort in labs all over the world, we have not yet been able to replicate the heart’s perfect engineering. But, as Sian Harding shows us in The Exquisite Machine, new scientific developments are opening up the mysteries of the heart. And this explosion of new science—ultrafast imaging, gene editing, stem cells, artificial intelligence, and advanced sub-light microscopy—has crucial, real-world consequences for health and well-being.

“A remarkable read from a world renowned researcher.” —Stephen Westaby, author of the Sunday Times bestsellers Fragile Lives and The Knife’s Edge

The Curie Society: Eris Eternal by Heather Einhorn, Adam Staffaroni and Anne Toole

Our heroic teen science prodigies are back for a new mission with the Curie Society, an elite secret organization where brilliant women can pursue the furthest reaches of their intellect, and this time they face a threat more serious and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered before. Maya, Taj, and Simone are supposed to be spending their summer broadening their horizons, but their plans take a strange and puzzling turn when the Curie Society’s original chapter, at the Sorbonne in Paris, calls on them for help. Along with new friends from the Paris chapter of the Curie Society, the team is thrown into a globe-spanning quest and a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a shadowy villain intent on controlling the world’s wealth through advanced biotech. The Curie Society will need all their specialized science skills to stop this scheme before it’s too late!

“The book beautifully highlights contemporary projects of female scientists committed to a socially responsible and equitable world!” —Jane Margolis, co-author of Power On!

A Heart Afire: Helen Brooke Taussig’s Battle Against Heart Defects, Unsafe Drugs, and Injustice in Medicine by Patricia Meisol

In A Heart Afire, Patricia Meisol renders a moving portrait of the indomitable pediatrician and global patient activist Helen Taussig (1898–1986), who famously gathered and publicized evidence linking thalidomide to birth defects, leading to US drug safety laws. Taussig also developed the Blalock-Taussig shunt (along with Alfred Blalock) for infants with congenital heart defects. Spanning Taussig’s childhood in Boston, her struggle with dyslexia, her progressive hearing loss, her research contributions, and the founding of her own fledgling children’s heart clinic, this book chronicles Taussig’s ambition, tenacity, and formidable work ethic. As Meisol shows, Taussig not only saved lives, but also set a bold precedent for other women doctors in the twentieth century, who were largely excluded from medicine.

“This impressive piece of research is not just about one woman, but also about the health of a nation and global developments in science and medicine.” —Claire Brock, University of Leicester; author of British Women Surgeons and Their Patients, 1860–1918

Her Space, Her Time: How Trailblazing Women Scientists Decoded the Hidden Universe by Shohini Ghose

Women physicists and astronomers from around the world have transformed science and society, but the critical roles they played in their fields are not always well-sung. Her Space, Her Time, authored by award-winning quantum physicist Shohini Ghose, brings together the stories of these remarkable women to celebrate their indelible scientific contributions. Engaging, accessible, and timely, Her Space, Her Time is a collective story of scientific innovation, inspirational leadership, and overcoming invisibility that will leave a lasting impression on any reader curious about the rule-breakers and trendsetters who illuminated our understanding of the universe.

“This book is truly for everyone, and I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed it.” —BBC Sky at Night Magazine

Counting Feminicide: Data Feminism in Action by Catherine D’Ignazio

What isn’t counted doesn’t count. And mainstream institutions systematically fail to account for feminicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls, including cisgender and transgender women. Against this failure, Counting Feminicide brings to the fore the work of data activists across the Americas who are documenting such murders—and challenging the reigning logic of data science by centering care, memory, and justice in their work. Drawing on Data Against Feminicide, a large-scale collaborative research project, Catherine D’Ignazio describes the creative, intellectual, and emotional labor of feminicide data activists who are at the forefront of a data ethics that rigorously and consistently takes power and people into account.

More than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech by Meredith Broussard

The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren’t just bugs in mostly functional machinery—what if they’re coded into the system itself? In the vein of heavy hitters such as Safiya Umoja Noble, Cathy O’Neil, and Ruha Benjamin, Meredith Broussard demonstrates in More Than a Glitch how neutrality in tech is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable. Broussard argues that the solution isn’t to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the algorithms that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. With sweeping implications for fields ranging from jurisprudence to medicine, the ground-breaking insights of More Than a Glitch are essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future.

“With her latest book, Meredith Broussard picks up on the threads of Safiya Noble and Ruha Benjamin as she demonstrates how technology reinforces injustice through its ubiquitous algorithms and questionable human interactions.” —Ms.

Digital Suffragists: Women, the Web, and the Future of Democracy by Marie Tessier

If you’ve read the comments posted by readers of online news sites, you may have noticed the absence of women’s voices. Men are by far the most prolific commenters on politics and public affairs. When women do comment, they are often attacked or dismissed more than men are. In fact, the comment forums on news sites replicate conditions of the offline and social media worlds, where women are routinely interrupted, threatened, demeaned, and called wrong, unruly, disgusting, and out of place. In Digital Suffragists, Marie Tessier—a veteran journalist and a New York Times comment moderator for more than a decade—investigates why women’s voices are outnumbered online and what we can do about it.

“A lucid and well-informed look at implicit biases in the digital world and the harms they cause.” —Publishers Weekly

The Creative Brain: Myths and Truths by Anna Abraham

What is the relationship between creativity and madness? Creativity and intelligence? Do psychedelics truly enhance creativity? How should we understand the left and right hemispheres of the brain? Is the left brain, in fact, the seat of reasoning and the right brain the seat of creativity? These are just some of the questions Anna Abraham, a renowned expert of human creativity and the imagination, explores in The Creative Brain, a fascinating deep dive into the origins of the seven most common beliefs about the human brain. Rather than endorse or debunk these myths, Abraham traces them back to their origins to explain just how they started and why they spread—and what at their core is the truth.

Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus by Maia Weinstock

As a girl in New York City in the 1940s, Mildred “Millie” Dresselhaus was taught that there were only three career options open to women: secretary, nurse, or teacher. But sneaking into museums, purchasing three-cent copies of National Geographic, and devouring books on the history of science ignited in Dresselhaus (1930–2017) a passion for inquiry. In Carbon Queen, science writer Maia Weinstock describes how, with curiosity and drive, Dresselhaus defied expectations and forged a career as a pioneering scientist and engineer. Dresselhaus made highly influential discoveries about the properties of carbon and other materials and helped reshape our world in countless ways—from electronics to aviation to medicine to energy. She was also a trailblazer for women in STEM and a beloved educator, mentor, and colleague.

“An exceptional biography showcasing the achievements of a brilliant scientist who broadened the range of the possible for women.”Booklist, starred review

Women and Climate Change: Examining Discourses from the Global North by Nicole Detraz

When you think “climate change,” who comes to mind? Who’s doing the science, the reporting, the protesting, the suffering? In Women and Climate Change, Nicole Detraz asks where women in the global North figure in the picture, what that means, and why it matters. Her answers fill critical gaps in what we know about the politics of climate change and gender.vBecause gender is a social construction, Detraz reminds us, change is possible. Her book offers the suggestion, and the hope, that identifying connections between ideas of gender and climate change might also alter our vision of a livable future.

“In beautifully illuminating the myriad roles that women play in climate change work, Detraz reminds us that representation of women’s work is crucial for the future of sustainability and justice.” —Sikina Jinnah, UC Santa Cruz; coauthor of Greening through Trade

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