Many girls are familiar with only a few names of women in science. Here are a dozen books to inspire our future women in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Fossil Hunter: How Mary Anning Changed the Science of Prehistoric Life by Cheryl Blackford
Tracing her discoveries, this gripping, gorgeously spot illustrated biography is a wonderful tribute to this remarkable woman and an honest look at the scientific community that almost waited too long to acknowledge one of the world’s greatest paleontologists and her remarkable contributions. The timeline, author’s note, glossary, current list for locations of Mary’s fossils, source notes, and bibliography round out this great nonfiction middle grade book.
Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Tracy Subisak
Every now and then we come across a picture book perfect for the 8-10 crowd. This book shows how Lilian Todd grew up in a family of innovators, and created her own things. But invention wasn’t for women, so Lilian took a job at the U.S. Patent Office. In her free time she built models of flying machines, eventually designing and building her own airplane. Great backmatter for readers who want to explore further.
Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery
This engaging biography of Temple Grandin shows how she brought her experience as a person with autism to the science of animal behavior. With a science teacher as an advocate and an ally, Temple began experimenting with a simple squeeze machine that would help her feel more comfortable, and revolutionized how people view animal emotions. Just as important as portraying a woman in science, this book shows that there is a place for neurodivergent people to explore their passions in STEM fields.
No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice by Gabby Salazar and Clare Fieseler
An engaging look at women around the globe on the frontlines of ecology, archeology, conservation, citizen science, astronomy, mountaineering, photography, vulcanology, bioengineering, and many more areas of science and exploration. Each biography contains “must-have” and “inspiration” sidebars, stunning photographs and diagrams, as well as a fun activity or additional scientific information.
Science Superstars: 30 Brilliant Women Who Changed the World by Jennifer Calvert, illustrated by Octavia Jackson
Exploring the spark of curiosity and the joy these women found in science, as they each persevered despite any barriers – even wars, this book presents factually & visually interesting entries of many well-known women scientists, as well as Ynés Méxia (Botanist), Janaki Ammal (Botanist/Cytology), Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (Chemistry), Jane Cooke Wright (Oncology), and Sau Lan Wu (Particle Physics). It’s an excellent book for encouraging students to think about the many possible science careers and pursue their own interests.
Changing the Equation: 50+ US Black Women in STEM by Tonya Bolden
From early trailblazers to the present, these stories highlight black women who have made contributions as surgeons, inventors, mechanics, forensic scientists, engineers, physicists, geneticists, architects and more. Each of three sections put the women’s contributions into the context of U.S. history. This is a book that could inspire a girl to think “maybe that’s something I can do!”
101 Awesome Women Who Transformed Science by Claire Philip, illustrated by Isabel Muñoz
A great resource for any STEM-girl, this compendium highlights women’s scientific and technical achievements from 2700 BCE to the present. Short biographies introduce women in math, botany, physics – even astrophysics. There are women in paleontology, engineering, computer science, and my favorite, entomology. Readers also meet women inventors and astronauts. Four spreads focus on women in astronomy, medicine, computing, and chemistry.
Black Women in Science by Kimberly Brown Pellum
Authored by a Black woman of science (Dr. Pellum is a veterinarian), this book invites girls to explore the possibilities of STEM careers. She presents 15 biographies, beginning with Rebecca Lee Crumpler, a medical doctor at the end of the Civil War, and showcases black women in aviation, nutrition, computers, rocket science, genetics, and forensic science. Hands-on activities at end of each chapter.
Hidden No More: African American Women in STEM Careers by Caroline Kennon
Attempting to counter the continued stereotyping of black women in STEM careers, this book traces the accomplishments of female African American scientists and inventors through the 19th and 20th centuries – from Bessie Coleman to Mae Jemison, Marie Daly to Joan Owens, Rebecca Crumpler to Alexa Canady, Ruth Howard to Jeanne Spurlock, and Bessie Griffin to Valerie Thomas. It includes source notes and additional resources.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
Women have been studying and practicing medicine, science, and math since before recorded history. We cannot afford to ignore the brain power of half the population, says the author, and she highlights contributions from women in STEM fields. There are timelines and a great sidebar on statistics, using graphs and pie charts to show the percent of women in STEM fields. Also a fun spread showing a variety of lab tools.
Gutsy Girls Go for Science: Engineers – With Stem Projects for Kids by Diane C. Taylor
Engineering is a huge part of our everyday life. The buildings we live and work in, the computers and phones we use – even the dishes we eat from – were designed by engineers. This book contains biographies of five gutsy girl engineers: Ellen Swallow Richards, an environmental engineer; Emily Roebling, chief engineer for the Brooklyn Bridge; Catherine Gleason, mechanical engineer; Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and industrial engineer; and Mary Jackson, an aerospace engineer. There are plenty of text-boxes, short bios of other engineering women, and hands-on “field assignments” at the end of each chapter. Other books in the series include Paleontologists, Programmers, and Astronauts.
Technology : Cool Women Who Code by Andi Diehn, illustrated by Lena Chandhok
This is one of ten books in the “Girls in Science” series. It begins with an introduction to technology, and how it has evolved from wheels and steam engines to current tech. Each of three chapters focuses on a woman in technology: Grace Hopper (math, science, computers); Shaundra Bryant Daily (coding, technology & movement); and Jean Yang (computer science and programming languages). Text boxes highlight cool careers in technology, sidebars provide short biographies of six more women in technology, and there are plenty of “try-it’s” and questions sprinkled throughout. Also in the series: books about women in Astronomy, Engineering, Forensics, Marine Biology, Aviation, Archaeology, Zoology, Meteorology, and Architecture.
STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:
Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. Visit her at www.sueheavenrich.com
Maria Marshall is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at www.mariacmarshall.com