One way my history-loving child and I love to approach science is through learning about the amazing people who have taught the world so much. In honor of Women’s History Month, I thought we’d take a look at some amazing women in STEM.
Biographies about Women in STEM
One thing many biographies about women in STEM share is the story of girls being slowed down in their question to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Most of them have to reach beyond their limits, thus showing an inner strength to be themselves. Here are some great biographies that we’ve read recently that have fascinated us.
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love. Not many girls received an education in fifth-century Alexandria Egypt, but Hypatia’s father insisted that she learn. By the end of her life, Hypatia was an expert in science and mathematics and used her training in oration to teach others what she had learned. The endnotes share what we know versus what we still don’t know about Hypatia.
Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist by Linda Skeers. Maybe Mary Anning was in the right place at the right time, but from the time in her youth when she found dinosaur bones on the beach near her home until her later years, she was dedicated to paleontology. As a woman in the nineteenth century, she did not also get the credit she deserved, so this book fits a special place for dinosaur fans. End matter provides more details about fossils.
Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe. Sophie Germain learned math and answered the challenge to explain some of the world’s most difficult secrets, become one of the first women to win an award from the Paris Academy of Sciences.
Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez. From the first rhyming page to the last, Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor illustrates a fascinating portrait of a woman who loves lizards and crocodiles as well as other reptiles! It’s a fun book to read, as well as an inspiring story about a determined woman that loves the science of reptiles.
What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett. As a child, Maria Mitchell often joined her father to look at the stars each night. Her interest in the sky didn’t change as she got older, and she became America’s first female astronomer. She was the first to discover a comet, which led her to tour Europe with lectures about the stars. Eventually, American universities let her teach courses as well.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins. Margaret Hamilton learned mathematics and became one of the first computer programmers, one that wrote code on punch cards that helped computers work. Her ultimate job was completing mathematical programs for the first trip to the moon. When astronauts in space ran in to issues, it turned out that Margaret Hamilton had coded in solutions.
Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics by Laurie Wallmark. Despite the educational limits given to Sophie during her childhood in Russia, Sophie married in order to gain the freedom to travel to Europe. There, she furthered her studies of mathematics. After overcoming opposition, Sophie’s talents in mathematics spoke for themselves. She became one of the first women to obtain a doctorate in mathematics and was later a professor of mathematics at a university as well as editor of a well-known scientific journal.
Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret by Jess Keating. Marie Tharp was the behind-the-scene worker that map of the ocean floor. Hers actually seemed like a sad story, because she probably would have liked to be out in the ships, using sonar to record data about the ocean floor. Instead, she was the one at the office that took all the data and mapped the ocean. Through all her work, she came to the conclusion that there was a deep water trench in the Atlantic Ocean, thus supporting the theory of continental drift.
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by Joseph Hopkins. In the late 1800s, Katherine Olivia Sessions moved from tree-rich northern California to the desert landscape of San Diego to teach. Upon arrival, she felt despair at the lack of trees. After extensive research and a public relations campaign with other desert communities, Kate began a tree nursery in the town desert to encourage the growth of native trees that would thrive in such an environment, thus creating a luscious green wonderland in San Diego.
Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten Larson. Although many know the name of the Wright brothers, few know of Emma Lilian Todd, one of the many inventors that improved the Wright brother’s airplane design in order to improve flight for the modern era.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca. Temple Grandin is a scientist who has autism. Because of her autism, she could see how to help the farm animals. Using her unique talents and her way of seeing the world, she has invented groundbreaking new ways of caring for animals. The rhyming story is accompanied with more details about Grandin’s life.
Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord. Patricia Bath wanted to be a doctor in order to help prevent blindness. After overcoming discrimination as an African-American woman, she pioneered a new laser surgery to help remove cataracts. The illustrations in this picture book help the reader see the details in the field of ophthalmology as they had never considered before.
More Women in STEM Picture Book Biographies
There are so many MORE books about women in science that I have not yet read. Here’s a rundown of some more STEM picture books about women. Find these books as well as some other favorite STEM biographies about male inventors, at my STEM picture book biographies list on Amazon.
- Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Rachel Dougherty
- Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson
- Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed (Mae Jemison)
- Evelyn the Adventurous Entomologist: The True Story of a World-Traveling Bug Hunter by Christine Evans
- Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark
- The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Janette Winter
- The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ocho by Julia Finley Mosca
- The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman
- Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor
- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
- Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone
- Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss
- Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade
- Dr. Jo: How Sara Josephine Baker Saved the Lives of America’s Children by Monica Kulling
- Fly High!: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden
- Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science by Diane Stanley