Hoopes, Halstead-Bent Professor of Biology and Molecular Biology at Pomona College and moderator for Nature’s Women in Science Forum, was attracted to science during the post-Sputnik Eisenhower years. But the establishment was not ready for women scientists. Sexual harassment was not illegal yet.

This memoir follows Hoopes through Goucher College, summers in Woods Hole, graduate school at Yale, postdoctoral fellowships at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation and University of Colorado Medical School, and a faculty position at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Along the way, Laura found satisfaction both in research and in teaching, as well as marrying twice and having two children.

Unlike other memoirs of women in science, this book shows a woman balancing her career with family, and enjoying both.

“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.

Laura Hoopes spoke about women in science in at Oxford College of Emory University in Atlanta, GA, Scripps College and Pomona College in Claremont, CA, Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at Hendrix College in AR, in bookstores, at AAUW, and at other meetings.

She was Keynote Speaker at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Women’s Leadership Conference in 2011, at McMaster University Current Research in Engineering, Science, and Technology conference sponsored by Women in Science and Engineering in March, 2012, and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences meeting in March, 2012.

Click here to read quotations from students and others attending presentations by Laura Hoopes.

Click here to review a list of Presentations by Laura Hoopes on Women in Science Issues

To explore a possible talk by Laura Hoopes at your location, please complete the request form on the contact page.


Published Reviews of Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling

Jay Brewster, “A Life in Science, Review of Breaking through the Spiral Ceiling: An American Woman Becomes a DNA Scientist,” CBE-Life Sciences Education 10(3): 237-8 (2011)

Elizabeth diStasio, “CUR Book Review: Breaking through the Spiral Ceiling,” CUR Quarterly, 32 (1): 8,  Fall, 2011; Reprinted in Microbe, 2011.

Anne Rosenwald, “Women on the Verge of a Glass-ceiling Breakdown,” BioScience 61 (10): 823- (2011)

Emily Schmitt, “Between the Bookends:  Breaking through the spiral ceiling: an American woman becomes a DNA scientist.” Bios 82 (4):122-123 (2011).


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