After having read a lot of books about women in STEM and related topics for my research in the last 4-5 years, last summer I came up with the idea of a book club for women who study or work in a STEM environment. My goal was to bring STEM students and professionals together to share knowledge and experiences, network, and of course discuss a relevant book in a friendly atmosphere.
The first book discussed, picked by me and the owner of the book shop that accommodates our meetings (Lighthouse Bookshop), was Inferior by Angela Saini. The event was quickly sold out, which made the interest and need for such a club clear by the women of the local STEM community.
On the day of our first meeting, the attendance was great. The discussion was unstoppable and focused mainly on the book topics. All the attendees had the chance to say their opinion on the questions asked, to express their view on the book and to share personal related stories. I enjoyed the passion and interest of the attendees in the issues raised by the author, and the variety of opinions which led to a very smooth and constructive conversation.
At the end of the discussion, the attendees were asked to rate the book with 0-5 stars, so the club could generate their own book review. Here is the club’s review, based on comments during the session and the average star rating:
Inferior by Angela Saini
A book with the word “Inferior” written in the cover can make one feel embarrassed to read it in public; however, it can definitely make every woman feel infuriated finding out about the sexism of the past, which doesn’t seem to have changed very much since then.
The unbiased view and the good research of the author let the reader question what is right and wrong, and how things should be. Even though the genetics and brain studies are quite popular topics in this sphere of research, the book in general gives enough evidence to back up arguments on gender roles and inequality.
The first couple of chapters seem to be too detailed, focused too much on one aspect of the subject, and one could tell that they are slow and that the author’s writing gets better in the later chapters. The last chapter touches a very interesting topic – the one of the position of older women – which is not as much popular and researched, and could have been more extensive and probably placed earlier in the book.
If the author had provided her opinion or research on solutions to the problem of gender inequality and practical things one can do to deal with it, the book would have been the absolute handbook of every woman. However, it is still a book that should be read by young women and men, since it provides useful and important information, which could change views and attitudes towards gender roles and stereotypes.