Are there any places where women succeed in science? Numerous studies in recent years have documented and lamented a gender gap in science and engineering. From elementary school through college, women's interest in science steadily declines, and as adults, they are less likely to pursue careers in science-related fields.
Women's Science offers a dramatic counterpoint not only to these findings but also to the related, narrow assumption that "real science" only occurs in research and laboratory investigation. This book describes women engaged with science or engineering at the margins: an innovative high school genetics class; a school-to-work internship for prospective engineers, an environmental action group, and a nonprofit conservation agency. In these places—where people use or rely on science for public, social, or community purposes—the authors found a remarkably high proportion of women. Moreover, these women were successful at learning and using technical knowledge, they advanced in roughly equal percentages to men, and they generally enjoyed their work.
Yet, even in these more marginal workplaces, women had to pay a price. Working outside traditional laboratories, they enjoy little public prestige and receive significantly less financial compensation. Although most employers claimed to treat men and women equally, women in fact only achieved success when they acted like male professionals.
Women's Science is an original and provocative contribution that expands our conception of scientific practice as it reconfigures both women's role in science and the meaning of science in contemporary society.