When asked to participate in the blog tour for The Other Einstein I was beyond thrilled. I requested a guest post about the importance of women in science and scientific education for girls, in general. As a female medical laboratory scientist this topic is close to my heart. Please take some time to read what author Marie Benedict has to say about this topic as it relates to her novel.
Only when I finished writing THE OTHER EINSTEIN did I realize that it is a story both historic and modern, particularly regarding women in the sciences. The novel focuses on Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife who studied as a physicist herself, and explores her astonishing climb from remote nineteenth-century Serbia where the law prohibited girls from attending high school to the physics classrooms of European universities. It also considers the role that Mileva may have played in her famous husband’s theories when personal tragedy and societal pressure forced her to subsume her scientific ambitions and pursue them only through her husband. As I concluded THE OTHER EINSTEIN, I realized that Mileva’s scientific marginalization mirrors the marginalization of many women in the sciences today. Womenare underrepresented in STEM studies and careers, fields that are growing rapidly. For example, less than twenty percent of chemical engineers are women and less than twenty-five percent of environmental scientists are women. Current women in STEM fields are working to rectify those numbers and to address the various biases that cause girls to choose non-STEM areas of study or that push women away from STEM paths that they originally pursued. Organizations like Girls Who Code have sprung up across the country to encourage girls toward STEM in the schools and groups like the Associations for Women in Science have formed to continue that support in the workplace. Even Melinda Gates has recently made a significant commitment toward women in STEM. But the journey toward this goal of a more equal representation in sciences will not be easy. It will require the sort of tenacity and passion that spurred on Mileva Maric as she made her own heroic ascent to the higher physics classrooms against all odds. As such, Mileva is emblematic of the possibility of success for women in STEM and her initial climb worthy of admiration. But because her journey did not yield the victory that we hope women of today achieve, her tale is necessarily a cautionary one as well and emblematic of the struggle. In this manner, THE OTHER EINSTEIN can be an important part of the current discussion for women in the sciences.