Women making a difference

by Karen Walch | Sep 27, 2022

Women have made big differences in the world. Here are some examples of women in law, medicine, science, environmental activism, and even one woman serving as a spy.

Women in White Coats      
by Olivia Campbell

In the 1800s many women died of treatable diseases because they avoided medical care from male doctors whose treatment was often harsh or uncaring. This book chronicles the history of three women who are determined to become doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and Sophia Jex-Blake fought for a place in the medical field in the United States, England, and Scotland despite prejudice against entering the male-only medical schools. Though the women were different in personality and circumstances, together they built women-run hospitals and teaching colleges creating medical care for women by women.

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Her Honor
by LaDoris Cordell

Judge Cordell, one of the first black judges in California, chronicles her experiences as she served on different court assignments during her career–from juvenile court to adoptions, will, and civil cases. She explains what is working with the judicial system, what is not, and how to fix the problems.

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The Code Breaker Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race
by Walter Isaacson

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she was given a paperback titled The Double Helix, and she determined she would become a scientist. This is the story of the development of CRISPR and the ability to edit genes. The book covers the cutthroat race of scientists to be the first to publish a paper, the moral dilemmas of being able to edit genes. What should be edited and what should not? Should scientists be allowed to eradicate certain diseases? Should enhancement of abilities and IQs be allowed? There are many moral questions to consider.

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Hope: A survival guide for trying times     
by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams

Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams explore the concept of hope and how we cultivate hope in ourselves and in our children. Jane shares four reasons why she has hope for the future, and she gives examples for each. She shares the story of her realization that she would need to leave the forest to become a messenger of hope, traveling the world as an advocate for environmental justice. She also shares what she is doing with her youth program Roots and Shoots. The audiobook is narrated in interview form by the authors.

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A Woman of No Importance
by Sonia Purnell

American Virginia Hall was determined to help the war effort in World War II, but was rejected from foreign service because of her gender and her prosthetic leg. Before the United States even entered the war, she joined Churchill’s “ministry of ungentlemanly warfare,” and was the first woman spy deployed into France. There she coordinated a network of spies in blowing up bridges, reporting on German movements, and recruiting and training guerilla fighters. When the Gestapo sent out the transmission “She is the most dangerous of all spies,” Virginia escaped over the Pyrenees Mountains. But she was not finished yet, and she became known as The Madonna of the Resistance.

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The Woman They Could not Silence: One Woman, her incredible fight for freedom, and the men who tried to make her disappear
by Kate Moore

In 1860, a woman had no rights. Her money and her children belonged to her husband. To her horror, Elizabeth Packard discovered that her mind and thoughts also belonged to her husband. Because she differed from her husband in her religious beliefs, she was placed in an insane institution. Husbands could declare their wives insane; and Elizabeth was determined to change laws for incarcerated women. She was a champion for the rest of her life for those who could not speak for themselves.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks didn't know she was a woman making a difference. She grew up in obscurity in Clover, Virginia and died in the 1950s in an unmarked brave. She remains virtually unknown, but her cells are famous the world over. The cells, taken without her consent, called He La , were the first to be grown in a culture. They were vital in developing the polio vaccine and have assisted in invitro fertilization and gene mapping. They have been sold and purchased all over the world. This is her story and the story of her family.

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