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This new book follows the female scientist who helped fight sexism at MIT

author of, “The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, M-I-T, and the Fight For Women in Science.”
author of, “The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, M-I-T, and the Fight For Women in Science.”

Molecular biologist Nancy Hopkins had a plan. She would make a discovery to alleviate human suffering within ten years of graduating from Harvard in the 1970s. Then she’d get married and have children. 

But things didn’t go as planned. Hopkins faced regular humiliation as a female scientist. She was sexually assaulted by a male colleague, excluded from papers, and paid less than the men around her. She was so focused on staying afloat in her career, she ultimately decided to forgo having a family. 

Hopkins suffered in silence for decades until, as a tenured professor at M.I.T., she couldn’t anymore. 

That’s when she discovered she wasn’t the only one who’d experienced this. In the mid-90s, Hopkins banded together with sixteen other women at M.I.T. to prove the sexism they knew they were facing—and they won. 

Hopkin’s successes and struggles are the subject of a new book by New York Times correspondent Kate Zernike called “The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, M.I.T, and the Fight For Women in Science.” Kate was the reporter who originally broke this story for the Boston Globe in 1999. 

We speak to them about the changes that followed Nancy and the other women’s efforts and the work that still needs to be done.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

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