A Lab of One’s Own by Patricia Fara

I bought A Lab of One’s Own by Patricia Fara after attending a seminar held by her. She has a lovely style of presenting and I did enjoy the seminar a lot. I had to take advantage and get a signed copy of the book. In A Lab of One’s Own, Fara talks about Science and Suffrage in the First World War.

It was fascinating to read about so many dedicated scientists, doctors, and engineers. She talks in detail about some of them, like Ray Strachey, Isabel Emslie, chemist Martha Whiteley, a co-inventor of tear gas, and botanist Helen Gwynne Vaughan, also mentions Marie Stopes.

A Lab of One's Own by Patricia Fara

Fara shows the bravery of these pioneers. She shows us how these women were temporarily allowed into the world of science, before becoming second class citizens once more, having the doors slammed shut again.

I think these women should be talked about more, their achievements shown. We all know about the Land Army and the canary girls, but how many of us were aware of the female doctors and engineers? Their work was vital during the war and their legacy is even more important today, when women are going to Universities to study any of the STEM subjects.

It made me think of differences between countries too. I was always interested in subjects pertaining to Arts & Humanities, regardless of being good at maths and chemistry (I did study those for my A levels with great results I might add). But my mother studied Chemistry at University and that made me think of the differences between countries when it comes to higher education. Fara talked about her own encounters with biases while studying Physics, and while she is 12 years older than my mother, I don’t think a decade makes a huge difference when it comes to attitudes towards women. I’m going to ask her about this.

Another thing I want to emphasize is that we, women, are lucky to live in this era. There’s still some work to be made, especially when it comes to child minding, as mostly women will take care of children, thus having an impact on career paths due to the need for flexible hours and so on. But, even so, we can do what we want, and we should celebrate that a bit, because it will mean we are celebrating and remembering the women that stood up for what they believed and worked hard so we can enjoy the benefits we have now.

A Lab of One’s Own by Patricia Fara

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Oxford University Press
Year it was published: 2018
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History, non-fiction
Pages: 334

About the author: Patricia Fara is a historian of science at the University of Cambridge. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and did her PhD at the University of London. She is a former Fellow of Darwin College and is currently a Fellow of Clare College where she is Senior Tutor and Tutor for graduate students. Fara is also a research associate and lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. Fara is author of numerous popular books on the history of science and has been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s science and history discussion series, In Our Time. She began her academic career as a physicist but returned to graduate studies as a mature student to specialise in History and Philosophy of Science, completing her PhD thesis at Imperial College, London in 1993.

Her areas of particular academic interest include the role of portraiture and art in the history of science, science in the 18th century England during the Enlightenment and the role of women in science. She has written and co-authored a number of books for children on science. Fara is also a reviewer of books on history of science.
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2 thoughts on “A Lab of One’s Own by Patricia Fara”

  • I confess I haven’t heard of the author. She raises interesting topics. I think you are spot on when you say about different countries and different attitudes. I grew up in the Soviet Union, where we were taught since early years that we are equal to men and can do anything including flying into the open space. Though, of course, in reality, women were still very much expected to raise the family as well as have a job. I don’t think I knew anyone with a mother who was a stay at home parent.

    • I was born in Romania, under the iron curtain and it was more or less like in the Soviet Union. I know what you mean.

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