Monday, January 9, 2017

A book review

I don’t generally write book reviews or even comment on what I have been reading.   My children say I read too much and I would say reading preferences are all over the place.  I enjoy everything from Christian mysteries to Clive Cussler to biographies written by David McCullough.  Well, I stumbled upon a very interesting read and thought I would share.  In part, because I think it would make a great read for high schoolers.  My understanding is that teachers are looking for reading material that crosses multiple academic disciplines and this book does it.  This book brings together math, science and history in a unique way. 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

After I finished this book, I realized I am product of these women and many others.  My chosen profession when I am not chasing three children around is in what today we call a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field.  My field even 30 to 40 years ago was predominately male.  Today, new graduates are predominately female.  Though I occasionally laugh at some surveys I am asked to fill out for eager young researchers about women in my field, after reading this book I realize how far we have come in just a short time.

The goal of this book was to tell the untold story of the women mathematicians, specifically black women mathematicians in the race to space.  What I enjoyed most about this book is that they looked at multiple women and told their stories.  Each within the back drop of what was going on in the world at time.  Also focusing on their unique contributions to space and aeronautics but also to their communities.  In addition, it showed how each one paved the way for the next and affected change.  It also showed how slow progress could be but how persistence produced change.

I had read about predominately black colleges in the past but had also thought of them as producing only school teachers and practical education.  This book opened my eyes to how advanced these colleges were and realized that in two generations how much in society has changed.  I also realized that dreams of one generation can encourage and grow the dreams of the next generation.

I have no idea if the movie that is coming out will be as good as the book but the book is well worth read.