A memoir that explores how a philosophy of life can be built from the tools of scientific inquiry. It teaches us how to approach difficult problems by asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers—and how we may find meaning through exploring the wonders of the universe around us. From one of the world’s leading planetary scientists.
The scientific career of Lindy Elkins-Tanton is impressive, even inspiring, but as her memoir reveals, her road into the world of science was a rocky one ... Rightly aware that the sciences are as much about people as data, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman covers its author’s prodigious scientific work alongside her traumatic background and her struggles to convince her institution to address the behavior of an abusive faculty member. The book’s honesty is not cynical, but rather sincerely optimistic, as Elkins-Tanton explores ways to create better, more inclusive disciplines through curiosity, generosity, and collaboration.
... engaging and candid ... spotlights the challenges and successes of being a woman in a male-dominated field. It also provides an opportunity for her to share her philosophy of life: always ask questions, but more importantly, listen to the answers ... With wide appeal to a wide audience, this work provides a closer look at the human side of science.
... enthralling and inspiring ... Of course, misogyny is not news; what makes the author’s story so compelling is her unrelenting effort to 'make a change in culture, a change in expectation, that causes a change in our subconscious reactions and thus in our implicit bias.' Elkins-Tanton does not limit her scope to harassment, though that is a central concern. She innovated classroom learning and team building to create space for every person to contribute and thrive, an approach that was recognized by NASA’s review board and played a role in the success of the Psyche proposal. Ultimately, she created a matrix to allow for every voice and therefore space to “drive human knowledge farther' ... A fearless, riveting, and galvanizing book from a star in the U.S. space program.