Graduate student's book aims to inspire young women to consider scientific careers

Emma Ideal, a fifth-year physics graduate student, has published “Blazing the Trail: Essays by Leading Women in Science.”

The book, co-edited with a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, includes essays by 35 women in science about their careers, including Yale physics faculty members Meg Urry and Sarah Demers.

“The gross under-representation of women in physics is well-known both inside and outside of the physics community,” says Ideal, who was inspired to pursue the project by a similar book about women physicists in India. “This book was created to inspire a new generation of young women to consider scientific careers, attacking the problem of under-representation at its root.”

Contributors to the book are primarily physicists, working in a variety of settings, including university labs, national labs, and industry.

“Readers will have a look into what a physicist’s life is really like, see that science is fundamentally about curiosity and asking (and finding answers to!) hard questions, and discover how attainable success is with the right attitude and work ethic,” says Ideal, of Moorpark, Calif. “In addition, many young women can feel isolated in the career and gender challenges they face, and my hope is that from reading the essays within they see that, in fact, they are not alone!”

Ideal studies particle physics and the Higgs Boson in Demers’ lab, and is participating in the ATLAS experiment in Switzerland, one of the great undertakings in contemporary physics. Her co-editor is Rhiannon Meharchand. They met as U.S. delegates to the fourth International Conference on Women in Physics, in 2011.

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