women's studies

HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.21.17: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

The original computers weren't machines, they were people—specifically women who, armed with slide rules and sharpened pencils, performed the complex calculations needed to get the space program (literally) off the ground. This book shines a long overdue spotlight on the women scientists and mathematicians who contributed to the early work of the space program, and it's a great read on its own or as part of a larger study with The Glass Universe and Hidden Figures.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.

Great Books for Women's History Month

Great books for Women's History Month from the HSL archives

Are you ready for Women's History Month? Here's a roundup of some of our favorite HSL reading lists for Women's History Month from the archives:

Summer Reading: Ballots for Belva

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Reading level: Elementary

Whatever your opinion about this year’s Presidential election (and if my friends on Facebook are any indication, most of you probably have a lot of opinions!), it’s pretty amazing that just a century after women won the right to vote, a woman has a real shot at becoming President of the United States. 

But Hillary Clinton won’t be the first woman to appear on the ballot—that distinction goes to Belva Lockwood, who — in 1884 and again in 1888 — decided to do something about the fact that women weren’t allowed to vote by running for President. (That’s right—though there were laws prohibiting some from voting, no laws said women couldn't run for President.) It was a bold move, but Belva’s life had already been a history of bold moves: Unlike most of her peers, Belva went to college and to law school, and became a lawyer, even arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Plenty of people thought Belva was being unladylike and inappropriate, but she was undeterred. And she had a surprising amount of support: Even though women couldn’t vote for her, Belva managed to receive more than 4,000 votes in the 1884 election as the official candidate for the National Equal Rights Party. Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency tells her story—one that doesn't appear in most U.S. history books.

This picture book biography of Belva’s life keeps things simple, introducing readers to Belva through a series of events in her extraordinary-for-her-time life. The author pays special attention to Belva’s passion for equal rights for everyone—for women, yes, but Belva’s campaign also advocated equal rights for African-Americans, Native Americans, and other marginalized groups. She also takes a fairly matter-of-fact approach to the criticism Belva received for her unorthodox activities—from both the media and more traditional people and sometimes even from her fellow women’s rights activists. 

Though this is a picture book, it’s not just for younger readers. Older kids will find Belva fascinating, too, and this book is a great introduction to her life. (The bibliography at the back of the book guides you to further reading suggestions,) I liked the period illustrations (though what’s with the random cats?), which really help tell the story. There are a few places where the storytelling falls a little flat for me, but Belva is absolutely interesting enough to pull you along through an occasional dry patch.

(If you’re playing summer reading bingo, this one counts as a biography of a historical figure you learned about this year if you’ve been following the 2016 election, as a nonfiction book, or as a book you can finish in one day.)

Women’s History Month: 3 Women for the Books

Women’s History Month: 3 Women for the Books

Discover some of history’s forgotten, neglected, and misunderstood heroines this March for Women’s History Month. In this edition: Three women who made the literary world a more interesting place.

Women’s History Month Biographies: 3 Math-Minded Women

Great biography booklist for Women's History Month, focused on women who made contributions to mathematical knowlegde. (Yes, Emmy Noether is on the list! :))

For Women’s History Month, we’ll be featuring biographies of women in history who may have beenforgotten, neglected, or misunderstood by traditional history books. In this edition: three women who contributed to the world’s mathematical understanding.  

Ada Lovelace

Sorry, Steve Jobs, but Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace may just be the pioneering genius behind modern day computer science. Lady Byron steered her daughter toward science and mathematics, which inspired her to work wit Charles Babbage, a mathematics professor whose Difference Engine is often considered the first proto-computer.

Read more about her in: Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age by James Essinger


Emmy Noether

Albert Einstein called Noether the most important woman in the history of mathematics, and even if you’ve never heard her name before, you’re familiar with her work if you’ve ever studied abstract algebra or theoretical physics.

Read more about her in: Emmy Noether: The Mother of Modern Algebra by M.B.W. Tent



Henrietta Leavitt

Leavitt’s work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s was supposed to be methodical and uncreative, but Leavitt was too intelligent to record without analyzing. Using blinking stars to determine brightness and distance from the Earth, Leavitt helped astronomers understand that the universe was much larger than anyone had previously suspected.

Read more about her in: Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh


 This information was originally published in the winter 2015 issue of home/school/life, but Women’s History Month seemed like the perfect time to bring it to the blog. You can read the full article—with lots of other cool women included—in that issue.