Synopsis: As we all know, history tends to be, well, his-story. The women that we’ve heard of are few and far between in comparison to the men. Women inventors struggled to get patents, women authors usually wrote under the name ‘Anonymous,’ and women academics were constantly barred from universities. And even with all we commonly know about famous ladies of the past, Sam Maggs introduces us to many, many more notable women who’ve been shunned by history.
Review: This book focused on women in the STEM field, as well as the adventuring and espionage field. In total, 55 women were discussed in this book. 25 were the main topics, 35 were ‘honorable mentions,’ and 5 were interviewed. Out of these 55 ladies, I knew 5. Yikes. Granted, I know of a lot of other great ladies that weren’t mentioned in this book, but still.
That being said, I think this is a wonderful book! I learned so much from it, and I was actually very impressed by the effort that went into the research. When I bought it, I must confess that I expected this compilation to be very United States-based, and also very white, hetero, cis, and what have you. The first lady? Wang Zhenyi, who was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, and poet from the 1700s. This book was incredible at identifying women from different countries and time periods, and Maggs brought to our attention the ‘gal pal-ification’ of many bi or lesbian women (or who we can only assume to be bi or lesbian). In addition to this, she also interviews a trans woman and who she thinks would have identified as trans had the language existed at that time.
One thing that I really liked about the book, which I know some didn’t like as much, was the language. It was very conversational, as though Maggs wrote how we talked. I appreciated this because I feel like I can get much more out of a conversation than an academic paper, simply because the words and tone of voice are ones are can better relate to. And while she has some pretty dang good jokes in there, it can get a little grating. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
In addition to all that, I absolutely loved the drawings. Foster-Dimino did a great job of making the illustrations look fun and lively while not toning down the seriousness of their studies or the importance of their accomplishment.
Ultimately, I can’t wait to own a coffee table solely so I can have this book rest upon it so people can say, “Oh, what’s that book about?” and then I can be like, “Well let me tell you all about it!” This book is nothing short of interesting, exciting, and inspiring.