Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling:
An American Woman Becomes a DNA Scientist
by Laura L. Hoopes Lulu

"I have never heard a woman in science say, 'It's a pleasure to see such a well built man who still has enough brains to understand hormone secretion.'"

Void of blame and self-pity, Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling, is a candid memoir, describing Laura L Mays Hoopes' self-conflict experienced along her path from science student to scientist. And as the subtitle suggests, this book movingly depicts Hoopes' struggles to become a woman scientist, before there were rules against sexual harassment, and it wasn't illegal to ask a woman if she was married or intended to have children.

Enticed into a career of science during the Age of Sputnik, a time in American history characterized by the fear of Soviet domination which galvanized reform in education and brought new funding for teaching, especially science and mathematics, Hoopes writes, "Sputnik had called, but no one was really prepared for women to answer." From her candid descriptions of the biases and barriers of the "no women" admission policies of most graduate schools, even as late as 1960, to the restrictive admission policies even at the undergraduate level, Hoopes' insightful personal narrative meaningfully conveys how simply obtaining an adequate education in the sciences was a battle for women. And while it's true that it took 188 years for American women to get the vote, Hoopes' story will offer encouragement to women who often need to take the time to build a solid relationship with their spouses, raise their children, maintain their health, or care for their parents, in spite of the institutional and societal prejudices they encounter in a single life span.

By candidly sharing her journey of how she ultimately became exactly the person she wanted to be, with a satisfying balance between an active creative research career and family life, Hoopes' delivers an empowering read for women who are unclear about their life path... "after the fall from the horse comes the attempt to get back up on his back if you're going to get anywhere." Furthermore, her inspiring narrative conveys an intellectual and conversational tone, peppered with good-natured humor ... "I must admit, at times, when I was frustrated, I dubbed these flies with the names of certain professors, just before relieving them of their heads" ... that will surely reward readers with the realization that the goal of "having it all" is more than just possible, it can be achieved with a hidden treasure of no regrets.

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