Instead of a review today, I am just going to talk. I don’t often stray from book reviews, but after reading three successive books about women in scientific careers, and noticing an unintentional theme, I was inspired to put some additional thoughts out there. And then ramble a bit…..
Perhaps you’ve noticed that the theme this week has been academia. All the books I’ve been reviewing feature women who were, for at least a part of the story, in graduate school. Kate Khavari’s A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by took place in the 1920’s. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Wednesday’s book, The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, is a contemporary academic romance. All three main characters have a scientific field of study.
While I was putting this week together, I learned a new word. STEMinist. The Urban Dictionary gives more than one definition, but the one I like is “A person who believes that all social groups deserve equal representation in STEM fields.”
Continuing in the STEMinist theme, tomorrow’s review will be of a book that features a female engineer. A Love by Design by Elizabeth Everett takes place in 1820 London. The books reviewed this week cover two centuries of strong women determined to succeed in STEM careers.
STEM is a big deal these days in schools and in libraries. STEM activities get lots of support. Boys and girls are encouraged to explore analytical fields. I am all for that. In an ever-changing technological world, we need people to pursue those fields.
However. (Did you know that “However,” was coming?) Without creative thought, there would be no advances in any STEM field. While I am not hugely blessed with artistic talent, I feel the arts are just as important as science, technology, engineering and math. Many people feel this way. That’s how STEAM came about. Guess what the ‘A’ stands for.
STEAM recognizes that creative skills and knowledge of arts including design, writing and history are needed in order for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math to even exist. Without some initial creative thought, there would be no need for advances in the sciences. Encouraging creativity in kids is critical for our future. We need those original thinkers in all disciplines to solve tomorrow’s problems.
Sadly, the term STEAM is used far less often than STEM. (The Urban Dictionary says this when I look up STEAMinist “Sorry, we couldn’t find: STEAMinist”.
As a reader of the types of books I feature on this blog, I can’t help but think you also believe that creativity is important. To that end, I am asking you to support the arts in your community. Whether it is in the schools, libraries, or community projects, making the arts accessible to all is good for everyone! I believe this whole-heartedly! Support comes in many forms. At my library, my favorite form is enthusiastic thanks for the programs we offer. Donations are good. Volunteering is lovely! By tickets to concerts. Purchase art pieces from your local artists. Somehow, let the creative people around you know that you appreciate their contributions. I probably don’t need to tell you that buying and reading books also supports the arts. 🙂
I will leave you with two quotes. First from a writer:
“There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.” Raymond Chandler, writer
And because this also about STEAMinism and I like equal representation, here is what an astronaut has to say about science and art:
“Sciences provide an understanding of a universal experience, Arts are a universal understanding of a personal experience… they are both a part of us and a manifestation of the same thing… the arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity” Mae Jemison, astronaut