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Laura L Mays Hoopes Laura L Mays Hoopes

Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling

Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling

Teacher Resources


Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling fills a gap among biographies, providing a role model for a modern American woman who balanced family and career and continued to make scientific discoveries. She developed this memoir as a result of an appeal from Pomona women students taking Biographies of Biologists, who repeatedly asked, "Must you be a workaholic loner to be a woman biologist?"

This memoir can be used as a supplement for classes about progress of women in science, as a supplement to any science class where the professor would like to encourage discussion of science career issues, or as a spark to ignite discussion of discrimination, determination, and achievement of under-represented scientists in any type of classes. Emory University has used Spiral Ceiling in class as a discussion stimulator. If you use Spiral Ceiling and develop materials you’d like to share with others, please let Laura know via email.


Do you run an undergraduate research program or train a lot of women postdoctoral fellows? Spiral Ceiling has also been used successfully at locations such as Pepperdine University in California and Hendrix College in Arkansas for summer undergraduate research students, to get them thinking about barriers to entry into science, ways to deal with rejections, and ways to balance family and career. It has been used at City of Hope National Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai for postdoctoral researchers. Laura has spoken at these sites, as well as giving keynote talks at meetings on women in science, career-family balance, and science careers. If interested in having her visit, email Laura. She also can, with prior arrangement, visit your class or site via telephone or Skype.

Download a course design on Women In Science Through Biographies
Download discussion questions for undergraduate researchers and/or postdoctoral fellows