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Dignifying Science: Stories About Women Scientists Paperback – September 25, 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A collection of women-drawn comics profiling women scientists should be a great way to celebrate unknown and underappreciated female professionals and inspire young women to go into the scientific fields. But this collection almost entirely misses the mark, failing to tell clear, interesting stories or to impart much useful information about the remarkable scientists it covers. The fault lies in Ottaviani's writing and organization, not in the skillfully executed black and white illustrations. The profiles--of Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Marie Skladovska, Hedy Lamarr (yes, the actress) and Birute Galdikas--unfold almost entirely through dialogue. Secondary figures are introduced without historical context or explanation of their relationship to the main character. Even the unusual profile of movie star/inventor Lamarr is bewildering (who exactly is Gene Markey?). Ottaviani provides an appendix with panel by panel notes offering historical and biographical context, but the reader will tire of flipping from comics to notes and back again. Both the narrative and notes jump into scientific terminology without sufficient plainspoken explanations. The book leaves one longing for what it originally promised: biographical sketches of significant women's scientific accomplishments in comics form, presented in a manner that the dame on the street can understand. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


It's so good, and remarkable how it got so much material across for each woman, so effectively. -- Ruth Lewin Sime, author of Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics

Jim Ottaviani’s comic books do an excellent job of telling scientific stories in a fun and absorbing way. -- Simon Singh, author of The Code Book and Fermat's Enigma

The difficulties faced by women in science come brilliantly to life in this hugely enjoyable book. -- Physics World

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: G.T. Labs; 2nd edition (September 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966010647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966010640
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,253,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

As someone who has taught a college course on women in science several times, I have found this book a nice switch from all of the more ponderous (and sometimes depressing) sources that I use--and yes, I do assign one reading from it. Is the book perfect? No. But I don't find much perfect on this planet.
The story-telling is good, the art is compelling, and a curious person can use the internet or a library if they want to find out more about any of the stories.
I personally found the use of multiple artists for Rosalind Franklin's segment to be rather brilliant, given that she herself was not able to tell her own story. Everything we know about her is from her colleagues or her family, since she died so young. And of course James Watson's hatchet job on her in 'The Double Helix' is often the first contact that many have with a very vibrant woman and excellent scientist. I found the art reflected the varied portrayals quite nicely.
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This well-meant companion volume to the author's _Two Fisted Science_ is, unfortunately, not nearly as successful as graphic fiction. This time, five women artists tell the stories of five women scientists. While trying to focus on lesser-known people, Ottaviani finally broke down and included a fore-and-aft pair of shorts on Marie Curie. If you've read Watson's _The Double Helix,_ you may already have heard of Rosalind Franklin, who came very close to discovering the essential shape of DNA before Crick and Watson -- had she only not moved in the wrong direction on a couple of minor points (and possessed a less abrasive personality). Barbara McClintock picked up a Nobel for her work on the corn genome, you'd really never know what her field was from the badly written story (though the art is okay). Biruté Galdikas has become the world's leading authority on orangutans (yes, she's still out there in the jungles of Borneo) and you'll learn a lot about them -- and her -- from Anne Timmons's nicely done piece. But the story of mathematician Lise Meitner is also pretty indistinct. The best of the collection, actually, is Carl Speed McNeil's very well told and drawn story of the scientific side of Hedy Lamarr, of all people. Hedy (not Heddy) actually held some wartime patents in electronics (which became a crucial part of cell phone technology), but still was treated like a bimbo both by her first husband and by Louis B. Mayer after she escaped to the U.S. This book could have been much, much better.
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