In honor of Women’s History Month we’re proud to present a weekly column this month, “The March of Women,” which will highlight some of our books that focus on women in the arts, technology, history, and sciences.
To get us started, here are two MIT Press classics that compliment each other: Women Becoming
Mathematicians discusses the struggles of women pursuing Ph.D’s in the
rapidly expanding field of mathematics during the post-World War II era. Mathematics would later give birth to the field of computer science, where women now face similar problems in gaining an equal education. Unlocking the Clubhouse
looks at women’s current struggle in this burgeoning, male-dominated field of
computing, and makes a strong case for letting women into the “boy’s clubhouse.”
Both books are based on extensive interviews with women who pursued degrees in
these fields, against the odds, with both success and failure, in order to pave the way for other women. Below are two
excerpts from these important books:
The women mathematics Ph.D.’s of the forties and fifties lived in a turbulent time of social, political and cultural growth and change…the rigid and inflexible model of career development put forward in the myth of the mathematical life course was never a viable model for them to follow. Indeed changing times and circumstances require courage, flexibility, resilience, and the willingness to strike out in new directions. The experiences of the women mathematicians of the postwar generation provide a model for both men and women, in mathematics and in many other fields as well, who must face the challenge of building a meaningful personal and professional life at the turn of a new millennium.
- Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating Professional Identity in Post-World War II America by Margaret A.M. Murray (2001)
In this book, we lay out the blueprints—the doors, walls, and windows—of the “boy’s clubhouse” of computing education. We show how rarely girls’ interest in computing is kindled and how women who do develop an interest in computing often have it extinguished in school. We discuss what is necessary to remodel education so that girls and women who are or could be interested in computing can find a home in the discipline.
- Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher (2003)