Following her passion led this author to write about barrier-breaking women scientists.
By Laurie Wallmark, author of Hedy Lamarr's Double Life (2019) During school visits, children often ask me why I write about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). Why don’t I do a biography of a baseball star or a famous actor? Surely that would be more interesting, they tell me. Then they suggest a favorite person to be the subject of my next biography. My answer to them is always the same, “Why don’t you write that book yourself?” Their eyes light up at the idea an author thinks they can write a book. But back to the original question—why do I choose to write about women in STEM? My answer is you should write about a person in a field you are passionate about, whether that field be baseball, acting, or in my case, STEM. If the subject is interesting to you, you’ll enjoy the writing process more and your finished manuscripts will be of higher quality. After I suggest to students they can write their own books, I explain this reasoning. You can almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they think about the perfect subject for their book. PB Bios Reflect Authors' Passions I have two passions that are reflected in my picture book biographies. The first is my love of math and science. I’ve loved these subjects ever since I was little. As a child, I took every opportunity to learn more about both these subjects both in and out of school. All through high school, twice a month I gave up weekend time to attend Saturday Science Workshops in the physical and biological sciences. Working scientists came and discussed their research with us. Between workshops, I devoured math and science books from the library. I also formally studied math and science. For two summers during high school, I attended college-level classes, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. My undergraduate degree is in Biochemistry and I have a Masters in Information Systems. Clearly, I’m a math and science geek. But what about my second passion? What else drives my desire to write about women in STEM? It’s my passion that all children, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender, etc., understand that a career in math or science is a possibility for anyone, including them. Both girls and boys need to know that yes, women work in STEM and have made important contributions that impact their every day lives. Spotlight on Women in STEM My picture book biography, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, introduces children to the world’s first computer programmer—a woman. Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code tells the story of the woman who came up with the idea of using words instead of “1”s and “0”s in programs, so now anyone to code, not just mathematicians and engineers. Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life shows children that a woman co-invented the technology that helps keep our electronic devices safe from hacking. These are the stories of three important woman in the history of science and technology whose achievements had been overlooked or forgotten. There are many more. Representation matters! * For more back story on this #NFinColor book, see Laurie Wallmark's blog tour posts!