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Laura L Mays Hoopes Laura L Mays Hoopes

Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling

Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling

An American Woman Becomes a DNA Scientist

"When I picked up this book, I expected a history lesson;
what I found was an inspirational experience."
   —Jay Brewster in Cell Biology Education

Laura's memoir can inspire every girl and woman with big dreams and show readers that women who love science can compose lives that include family and enjoy them thoroughly. The first edition was released in 2010, and the second in 2013.

The memoir follows Laura through Goucher College, summers in Woods Hole, graduate work at Yale, postdoctoral fellowships in La Jolla and Denver, and her first academic position at Occidental College in Los Angeles. At first she planned to be a professor, perhaps at Harvard or some other major research university, but later she became a liberal arts college professor and put together a life that made family life, teaching and interesting science work together for her.

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"...sprinkled with nuggets of wisdom that will constitute great advice for readers who are undergraduates or early graduate students.... an example of how one young woman fell in love with biology, and later, with DNA, and how her career unfolded and intersected with her personal life.... Some themes emerge: the ugliness of gender discrimination; the impact of mentors, friends, and family; and whether or not there is a 'women's science.' Her descriptions of discriminatory behavior ring true, but they are presented not as attacks on those who discriminated but rather as information that should provide food for thought."
   —Elizabeth diStasio in CUR Quarterly

"In this fascinating memoir, you will find the story of a woman in science, drawn with wonder into the biosciences, specifically the study of DNA and aging.... When I picked up this book, I expected a history lesson; what I found was an inspirational experience, walking with this extraordinary woman through her life as a scientist....Her story is compelling, offering painful details regarding personal frustrations, insecurities, and failure, yet offering a story that is familiar to anyone who has chosen science as a lifelong pursuit. Who is Laura L. Mays Hoopes? She is a model to guide generations of scientists to come. I highly recommend this book to you; the words within will encourage and inspire."
   —Jay Brewster in Cell Biology Education

"The writing style is forthright and accessible for lay readers, scientists. and historians."
   —Kyle MacLea in Journal of the History of Biology

"This book is an accounting of a life lived in science, which is the telling of personal and professional struggles and successes that women readers, old and young, will find poignant and familiar."
   —Anne Rosenwald in BioScience

"A thoughtful look at women in science and how they can contribute just as much as any man, Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling is an intriguing read."
   —Small Press Bookwatch

"By allowing readers to peer into her life through the window of her memoir, Dr. Laura Livingston Mays Hoopes has provided encouragement and inspiration to others.... Through a writing style rich with recreated dialog and personal anecdotes, Dr. Mays Hoopes has provided her readers with a sense that they are actually looking in on the events of her life as they happened in the past.... This book fills a void in the scientific memoir literature of our time. It is a story that will appeal to established and new scientists trying to live a fulfilled and balanced life. This is certainly a very important contribution, and an enjoyable book to read."
   —Emily Schmitt in Bios

"Spiral Ceiling isn't just about women in science. It's about each of us trying to be the person we should be, the hurdles that change our direction, and the power that comes from realizing we've become exactly the person we want to be. An uplifting read for anyone whose path is unclear."
   —Johanna Hardin, Mathematics professor

"Hoopes' story of marching undaunted through a man's world to pursue the discipline she loved is evocative and compelling. When she writes about science, her words become luminescent. An inspiring read!"
   —S. Kay Murphy, Author and Teacher

"Laura captures both the egregious and the more subtle (and often more deadly) ways women were discouraged from pursuing their passion for higher education in the sixties and seventies."
   —Helaine Scarlett Golann, PhD in Psychology