When I first started reading Sam Maggs‘ new book, Wonder Women, I was surprised that I had not heard of many of the women she wrote about. Reading through the stories of innovation, invention, discovery, and espionage, it was amazing to see how often women’s accomplishments were looked over, or worse: attributed to men.
Wonder Women is about 25 women who changed history. They are organized into chapters on women of science, medicine, espionage, innovation, and adventure. At the end of each chapter, Maggs interviews a woman who fits into that category. Maggs’ style is reminiscent of what you might read on the internet in places like Tumblr. For me it was a bit jarring at first but he more I read, the more I really enjoyed this approach. She writes like she is talking to a friend about these women rather than a more textbook-like approach.
One of the things that Sam Maggs emphasizes is that representation is important. Representation is talked about quite a bit online in regards to representation in the entertainment we enjoy. (And the often lack-thereof that we see in that entertainment.) However, as she says in the introduction of Wonder Women, “…something we often forget is that representation matters everywhere, not just in fiction but also in our everyday IRL lives. The bummer is that although we’re making significant strides in the media, the same cannot yet be said for the office or the classroom.” I was in high school in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Comparing the women that Maggs has written about and what I learned in school, we have a long way to go.
Maggs goes on to explain that often in our history books, men were credited with things that women actually accomplished. Rosalind Franklin was instrumental in the discovery of DNA. Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars and her male supervisor won the physics Nobel Prize for it. Maggs discusses these women and many more in the first chapter of her book, “Women of Science”.
The second chapter, “Women of Medicine”, goes into how hard women had to work to get into the medical field. Men were apparently afraid that women would be too good at it! In the third chapter, she introduces the reader to “Women of Espionage”. During times of war, many women used their amazing skills to fight for their countries. Chapter four focuses on “Women of Innovation”. According to Maggs, “Men often took credit for women’s inventions, sometimes at the behest of women of color who feared that white consumers wouldn’t want to purchase their items.” The final chapter is “Women of Adventure”. These are women who did things that no one else had ever done before. They followed their dreams.
Wonder Women is a great book for anyone to read, not just women. It gives readers a view of the world as it is rather than that which history books would have us believe. Wonder Women contains the stories that need to be told in school and shared with the world. Pick up your own copy of Wonder Women on October 3rd. Enjoy learning a little bit about some of the many women who have made our world what it is today.
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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