A Lab of My Own


What was it like to be a woman scientist battling the “old boy’s” network during the 1960s and 1970s? Neena Schwartz, a prominent neuroendocrinologist at Northwestern University, tells all. She became a successful scientist and administrator at a time when few women entered science and fewer succeeded in establishing independent laboratories. She describes her personal career struggles, and those of others in academia, as well as the events which lead to the formation of the Association of Women in Science, and Women in Endocrinology, two national organizations, which have been successful in increasing the numbers of women scientists and their influence in their fields. The book intersperses this socio-political story with an account of Schwartz’s personal life as a lesbian and a description of her research on the role of hormones in regulating reproductive cycles. In a chapter titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” she examines the “evidence” from a scientist’s point of view for the hormonal and genetic theories for homosexuality. Other chapters provide advice on mentoring young scientists and a discourse on why it matters to all of us to have more women doing and teaching science. She also describes the process of putting together an interdisciplinary Center on Reproductive Science at Northwestern, which brought together basic and clinical scientists in an internationally recognized program of research and practice.
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Review Quotes

"Dr. Schwartz’s book is an engaging read. … Her memoir reads as both a historical text documenting how far women and homosexuals in science have come, and an outline of how much progress we still need to make." – in: The Physiologist 53/4 (2010)
"An account of her pioneering career in endocrinology, Neena Schwartz, scientist, mentor, feminist, and lesbian, empowers women and gays to enter science. A candid saga of academic life in the closet ending with a coming out story by a 'Lifetime Mentor' of the AAAS. Neena Schwartz wanted to change the world—she did!" – Adele E. Clarke, Adjunct Professor of History of Health Sciences, UC San Francisco
"Vibrant views from the full arc of a woman scientist’s career; not just climbing a rainbow, but creating it from storms and light, descending toward the gold of shared wisdom under a triple-rainbow of science, love, and womanhood." – Martha McClintock, David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology, University of Chicago
"A remarkable description of life spent in academia—research, mentoring, academic politics, the feminist movement—and insight into Neena’s personal life rounds out the picture of a true giant of neuroedocrinology in the twentieth century." – Jean D. Wilson, Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science, Southwestern Medical Center

Table of contents

List of Photographs and Figures
Richard T. Hull: Editorial Foreword
Bringing Them Whole
A Blank Slate
Liberty Heights
Graduate School in Chicago
Endocrinology 101
Defining My Science and Expanding My Life
Confrontations and Recognitions
Catching Up with the Boys: Becoming Members of the Club
Inside the Ivory Tower
Beginning Again
A Lab of One’s Own
Wrapping Up
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Would Science Be Different if Women Participated Equally?
Mentoring: The Gift that Gives
The North Woods: A Safe Haven
Out of the Lab
For Further Reading
About The Author
Name Index
Subject Index


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