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About The Book

‘Outstanding’ Bonnie Garmus, bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry

The remarkable untold story of how a group of sixteen determined women used the power of the collective and the tools of science to inspire ongoing radical change. This is a triumphant account of progress, whilst reminding us that further action is needed.

These women scientists entered the work force in the 1960s during a push for affirmative action. Embarking on their careers they thought that discrimination against women was a thing of the past and that science was a pure meritocracy. Women were marginalized and minimized, especially as they grew older, their contributions stolen and erased.

Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the story in 1999 for The Boston Globe, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made the astonishing admission that it discriminated against women on its faculty, The Exceptions is an intimate narrative which centres on Nancy Hopkins – a surprisingly reluctant feminist who became a hero to two generations of women in science.

In uncovering an erased history, we are finally introduced to the hidden scientists who paved the way for collective change.

About The Author

Photograph by Harry Zernike

Kate Zernike has been a reporter for The New York Times since 2000. She was a member of the team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for stories about al-Qaeda before and after the 9/11 terror attacks. She was previously a reporter for The Boston Globe, where she broke the story of MIT’s admission that it had discriminated against women on its faculty, on which The Exceptions is based. The daughter and granddaughter of scientists, she is a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and sons.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (February 15, 2024)
  • Length: 432 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781398520035

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Raves and Reviews

The Exceptions tells the infuriating, inspiring story of the sexism faced by female scientists at M.I.T. — and how they fought back… Thanks to Zernike, we see the personal toll unconscious bias takes — not just in time lost or talent discarded, but on the greater good. Maybe the reason we’re still running for the cure is because systemic discrimination continues to run even faster. The good news is, Zernike’s book will inspire a host of non-renegades to do something about it. Rules are indeed made to be broken. Have at it.'

– Bonnie Garmus, New York Times

'What Nancy Hopkins achieved is exceptional - in science of course, but more broadly in society. What Kate Zernike has achieved in this brilliant book is also excpetional - a condemnation of the treatment of women in science and a riveting story about the drive to purse science'

– Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winner The Emperor of All Maladies

'Excellent and infuriating'

– New York Times

'A story I wouldn't believe except that it's true, told by the reporter who broke it first'

– Angela Duckworth, author of Grit

'A gripping page-turner backed up with extensive research by Zernike, The Exceptions traces how Nancy Hopkins and a group of astounding women at MIT came together to catalyse change. Their story is angering, at times depressing and, above all, inspiring, but this book also remains timely in reminding us that we have not made as much progress as we think we have and that there is still much work to be done. As when Zernicke first broke the story for The Boston Globe in 1999, creating waves across the international scientific community, I hope this book will inspire the next generation of scientists to continue shaping a fair and inclusive culture in research'

– Alain Goriely, Royal Society Science Book Prize

Awards and Honors

  • ALA Notable Book

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