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22 Aug 2019, 13:20 HRS IST
  • PTI
    • Bookworm
  • Lab Girl: A woman's story of science, sexism and success
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    Public and private organisation all over the world have studied the mechanics of sexism within science, she points out.

    "In my own small experience, sexism has been something very simple: the cumulative weight of constantly being told that you can't possibly be what you are," she writes.

    From her first real research finding till she became a mother, the 47-year-old scientist, a professor at Oslo University, always found a connection between the important incidents of her life and her own her line of work.

    In the autumn of 1994, Jahren found that the most basic part of a Hackberry fruit's seed pit was made of opal. It was an incident that the author felt changed her life.

    "While looking at the graph, I thought about how I now knew something for certain that only an hour ago had been an absolute unknown, and I slowly began to appreciate how my life had just changed.

    She recalls how she stood and looked out of a window, waiting for the sun to rise.

    "...eventually a few tears ran down my face. I didn't know if I was crying because I was nobody's wife or mother- or because I felt like nobody's daughter- or because of the beauty of that single perfect line on the readout, which I could forever point to as my opal," she says.

    Years later, after a long and painful pregnancy clouded by suicidal depression, she would hold the baby in her arms and see her second opal in him.

    "When I wake, I hold my baby and I think about how he is my second opal that I can forever draw a circle around and point to as being mine," the scientist mother states.

    Originally published by Alfred A Knopf, the book also chronicles Jahren's relationship with her friend and colleague Bill and her scientist husband Clint Conrad.

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