The Madame Curie Complex
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JULIE DES JARDINS teaches American history at Baruch College, CUNY, and writes on gender and American women. Previously, she was a lecturer at Harvard University, where she was awarded the Alan Heimert Prize for Seminar Teaching. Des Jardins has a Ph.D. in American history from Brown University and has taught the history of gender, race, and feminism since 2000.

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The Madame Curie Complex

The Hidden History of Women in Science
Julie Des Jardins

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Why are the fields of science and technology still considered to be predominantly male professions? The Madame Curie Complex moves beyond the most common explanations—limited access to professional training, lack of resources, exclusion from social networks of men—to give historical context and unexpected revelations about women's contributions to the sciences.

Exploring the lives of Jane Goodall, Rosalind Franklin, Rosalyn Yalow, Barbara McClintock, Rachel Carson, and the women of the Manhattan Project, Julie Des Jardins considers their personal and professional stories in relation to their male counterparts—Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi—to demonstrate how the gendered culture of science molds the methods, structure, and experience of the work. With lively anecdotes and vivid detail, The Madame Curie Complex reveals how women scientists have often asked different questions, used different methods, come up with different explanations for phenomena in the natural world, and how they have forever transformed a scientist's role.

"The story of women in science is an ongoing tale of discrimination and misunderstanding—and of smart females finding ways to use their brains and creativity, despite formidable barriers. Julie Des Jardins has done a wonderful service by assembling their history. Give this book to Lawrence Summers!"

Claudia Dreifus, author, Scientific Conversations: Interviews on Science from the New York Times, adjunct assistant professor, Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs

"A fascinating book about the lives and struggles of women scientists."

—Beverly Whipple, Professor Emerita, Rutgers University

"The Madame Curie Complex deconstructs the idea of the quintessential female role models in science."

—Barbara Jasny, Deputy Editor for Commentary, Science magazine

"In The Madame Curie Complex, Julie Des Jardins examines the careers of women scientists from Curie to Jane Goodall. Most of them probably won't be familiar to readers, but they should be, not only for their scientific contributions, but for the ways in which their work was marginalized and made more difficult than it had to be."


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