Rachel Ignotofsky: Science is for Women

November 10 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Women in Science

Growing up, I wasn’t that into science. The textbooks always seemed so boring and the experiments were few and far between. My favorite activity was creating different types of clouds with cotton balls, which doesn’t sound very scientific to me, now that I think about it.

But as an adult, I’ve found that science is my favorite subject. I may not have any plans to become an astrophysicist, but I’m getting a little smarter with every book I read and Google search I make.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: The First…and Second

It’s pretty well known that Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 for her work on radiation. But here’s something you may not know: Marie Curie also earned a second Nobel Prize, this one in chemistry in 1911, making her the first person—male or female—to win twice. And as if that’s not impressive enough, award-wining blood ran in her family, with her daughter also winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Rachel Ignotofsky, Writer and Illustrator

If these tidbits about Marie Curie are news to you, you’re not alone. We often don’t learn much about women in science, which leads us to the misconception that women aren’t actually involved in the field. But in case y’all didn’t know, that’s totally bogus.

Rachel Ignotofsky is making sure we learn plenty about groundbreaking women scientists in her new book, Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers in Science. This is one of those rare books that’s perfect for everyone, from your nieces and nephews to your gal pals and definitely yourself.

Each scientist’s story in the book is accompanied by Rachel’s spellbinding illustrations. These women’s innovative endeavors make you think, “Wait, why haven’t I heard of her?” For example, did you know Patricia Bath was the first African-American female doctor to get a medical patent? And she restored sight to people who had been blind for years. How cool is that?

Rachel is inspired by science and history, and hopes that by beautifully illustrating these subjects, she can make intimidating words like “astrophysics” more accessible, especially for young girls. After all, for Rachel, art is a tool to facilitate education. Rachel admits she was a slow reader in elementary school, and learning was pretty much a snooze-fest, thanks to dry, text-heavy books. But once she discovered illustrated books and cartoons, everything changed. That’s a sentiment she hopes to share with her young female readers.

This award-winning illustrator started taking her art seriously in high school, then earned a fine-arts degree and landed a sweet graphic-design gig at Hallmark. Later, as a freelancer, she worked with clients like Imperial College London and Fandango.com. One of her clients is the nonprofit Pablove Foundation, which focuses on pediatric-cancer research. Rachel designed a fantastic series of illustrations to help market the organization.

During the course of creating her book, Rachel says she had a blast digging deep into the stories of pioneering women in science and illustrating their stories. But identifying as a writer and figuring out what works for her has been challenging. Now she knows she can best get her creative juices flowing after a big stack of pancakes and lots of coffee. That’s my kind of role model!


Rachel Ignotofsky’s illustrations show us how heavily involved women have been in the field of science. Now it’s time they get recognized for it. Nobel Prize recipient Francoise Barré-Sinoussi said:

“Certain people—men, of course—discouraged me, saying [science] was not a good career for women. That pushed me even more to persevere.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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