In 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology admitted to discriminating against its most senior female scientists. It was a seismic cultural event—one that forced institutions across the nation to reckon with the bias faced by girls and women in STEM. The Exceptions is the story of the women on MIT's faculty who started it all, centered on the life and career of their unlikely leader: Nancy Hopkins, a noted molecular geneticist and cancer researcher and protegee of James Watson, the c-odiscoverer of the structure of DNA.
Excellent and infuriating ... An intimate, behind-the-scenes account of how those scientists conducted a four-year study that resulted in M.I.T.’s admitting to a long history of sexual discrimination ... While you may feel the need to take a break and knock a hole through a wall, Zernike’s excellent reporting forces you to read on. She tells her story with careful pacing and precise detail, illustrating each injustice with jaw-dropping quotes and solid facts.
Zernike relies heavily on Hopkins’s notes, diaries, and memories in this account, and it shows. One longs to hear the responses from her alleged detractors ... Some of the history...seems belabored and obligatory, and some of the science feels unpacked ... None of this, though, detracts from the book’s central message: the power to effect institutional change through the judicious application of reason. That alone is reason enough to read this hopeful, uplifting account.