Eileen Pollack was one of the first women to graduate with a degree in physics from Yale. However, her path was not an easy one because of her gender. Eileen looks back at her education and and academic career to try and figure out the plight of women in science in her semi-autobiographical The Only Women in the Room. Though there are many more women in the sciences now, women are still vastly outnumbered by men especially in sciences such as physics, math and technology.
Eileen examines her childhood and college career in order to use her experience as an example of the problems and internal struggles women in sciences have faced and still may have issues with. In the latter half, Eileen interviews women in sciences currently and sights recent studies about women in sciences to base her conclusions on. As Eileen recounted her struggles throughout her elementary and high school studies, I was amazed at how many times she was held back and her interests and intelligence were discounted. Despite all of that, Eileen was determined to get a degree in physics. She was accepted into Yale and succeeded, but not without many struggles. One of the things that Eileen found out was that though she thought she was doing far worse than any of the males in her classes, she was actually doing much better. Her struggles resulted from many of the males in her classes receiving more encouragement throughout their academic career resulting in the ability to appear confident and belief that they were doing well and had a grasp on the material. Another pitfall Eileen ran into was comfort level being the only or one of few females in many of her classes. Taught by male professors who may also not have been comfortable. This is one of the issues that is carried over to women today and in some cases, I have faced myself. Eileen found that women need steady, outward encouragement and nourishment in their confidence level. Overall, this was an interesting, introspective and eye-opening look at women in the sciences.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.