A Lab of One's Own

By Patricia Fara,

Book cover of A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War

Book description

2018 marked a double centenary: peace was declared in war-wracked Europe, and women won the vote after decades of struggle. A Lab of One's Own commemorates both anniversaries by revealing the untold lives of female scientists, doctors, and engineers who undertook endeavours normally reserved for men. It tells fascinating and…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked A Lab of One's Own as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

When, in the course of my research for my book, I first came across a newspaper article from 1939 reporting on the work of physicist Florence Bell with the stunned headline "Woman Scientist Explains," I think it took me about 5 minutes to recover from laughing. It’s a pity that the local press were more interested in the fact that Bell was a woman rather than her actual science, because only a year earlier she had shown for the first time how X-rays could reveal the regular, ordered structure of DNA. And as an undergraduate of Girton College, Cambridge, Bell’s…

This book shines a light on a lesser-known but key group of participants in the First World War: scientists. Fara’s book considers both the opportunities offered by the war as well as the challenges and prejudices faced by a select cohort of British female scientists. I found it particularly interesting reading it during a pandemic, at a time when scientists’ skills are once again crucial in a national (and global) emergency, but equally when scientists have a very high public profile. This book shows that historical precedents can provide relevant contexts for addressing questions that are still being asked today…

From Alison's list on women and the First World War.

This is a book about ground-breaking women and their impact on science, medicine and the First World War so could never be anything other than fascinating. But Fara is also a wonderful storyteller and in her hands these tales of resilience, courage and sheer determination zing with life.

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