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The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the…
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The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science (udgave 2023)

af Kate Zernike (Forfatter)

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1224225,709 (3.85)2
"In 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology admitted to discriminating against its most senior female scientists. It was a seismic cultural event--one that forced institutions across the nation to reckon with the bias faced by girls and women in STEM. The Exceptions is the story of the women on MIT's faculty who started it all, centered on the life and career of their unlikely leader: Nancy Hopkins, a noted molecular geneticist and cancer researcher and protge of James Watson, the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA." -- from dust jacket.… (mere)
Medlem:jacqste
Titel:The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science
Forfattere:Kate Zernike (Forfatter)
Info:Scribner (2023), 432 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science af Kate Zernike

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This was great. I learned so much about Nancy Hopkins and the other molecular biologists. There was a lot in the book about molecular biology from about the 1950's through the early 2000's. Then there is also the story of how Nancy Hopkins finally realized how she'd been working against unrecognized discrimination in her department at MIT. She rounded up the other women in science and they made a compelling case for systemic bias, which (remarkably) the President and Dean acknowledged in public and did something about it. ( )
  Pferdina | Oct 22, 2023 |
Although I got a Bachelor of Science in the 1970s I didn't consider pursuing a career in the sciences until the 1990s. By then, women in science were not an uncommon sight (although they weren't very common in public media; I remember in 1994 looking for a downloadable picture of a woman scientist to illustrate a talk I was giving and they were scarce) and I knew that I could find a good job.

Nancy Hopkins, who is featured in this book, was an undergraduate at Radcliffe College in 1963 when she heard James Watson give a lecture about DNA. Immediately she knew what she wanted to do with her life. She asked Dr. Watson if she could work in his lab and he agreed. He had two other Radcliffe students in his lab which was "an unusual concentration of women". Nancy was soon socializing with Watson but he was never physical in his interactions with her (unlike his fellow Nobel Laureate, Francis Crick, who put his hands on her breasts the first time he met her). Watson convinced Nancy to get her Ph. D. in molecular biology. This created rather a conundrum for Nancy as she had a long-time boyfriend, Brooke Hopkins, and they expected to get married when they graduated college. Nancy decided that she would do science until she turned 30 and then she would have children. It didn't seem possible to do both at the same time. So, during her 20s she continued to work in molecular biology often going to Woods Hole Biolabs in the summer with Watson and some of his graduate students. She was working in another scientist's lab as a technician and was instrumental in a breakthrough in his research. Yes, when he published his results she didn't get any credit. At the time, Nancy didn't think anything of it. However, as she progressed in her own research and started teaching at Woods Hole herself she was noticing more instances of women scientists not getting the credit they deserved. Meanwhile, she had married but found that her husband didn't take any interest in her work. Since work consumed so much of her time they grew apart. By the time she reached her self-imposed deadline of 30 her husband was having an affair and they separated. Nancy went on to teach and research at MIT, becoming well-known in the field of molecular biology. However, time and time again she found that men who were not achieving as much as she had were getting more space, more recognition and more money. Eventurally in 1994, after she got tenure, she and fifteen other tenured women scientists at MIT banded together to demand equality. MIT did address many of the issues in the science faculty and this went on to spread to other faculties and universities.

Kate Zernike had full access to Nancy Hopkins' files and also interviewed many others. She brings a journalist's eye to what makes a good story but I don't think she embroidered facts. She really didn't have to as the unvarnished truth is just as interesting as any fictional representation. After reading this I am glad that I didn't go on to work in academia which seems like one has to claw up the ladder every step instead of just letting good work speak for itself. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 21, 2023 |
This was truly one of the most infuriating books I’ve read, and I had to parse out my listening chunks in order not to be constantly seething with rage. The author really does an amazing job at telling Hopkins’s story along with many other women at MIT and their fight against sexism and discrimination. I’m not sure if it was the intention of the author, but what I most took away from this is the inherent distrust and lack of connection that these women seemed to have with each other (I almost lost my mind when Hopkins whiffled forever and finally decided not to go through with a lawsuit). I know that their community is what made changes happen, but it took decades for it which is mind boggling. ( )
  spinsterrevival | Mar 31, 2023 |
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The thought could not be avoided that the best home for a feminist was in another person's lab. - James D. Watson, The Double Helix, 1968
As for women, God help them. - Barbara McClintock, letter to Nancy Hopkins, September 21, 1976
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(Prologue) In March 1999, a story above the fold on the front page of the Boston Sunday Globe reported that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had acknowledged long-standing discrimination against women on its science faculty.
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"In 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology admitted to discriminating against its most senior female scientists. It was a seismic cultural event--one that forced institutions across the nation to reckon with the bias faced by girls and women in STEM. The Exceptions is the story of the women on MIT's faculty who started it all, centered on the life and career of their unlikely leader: Nancy Hopkins, a noted molecular geneticist and cancer researcher and protge of James Watson, the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA." -- from dust jacket.

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