The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist
Ben Barres was known for his groundbreaking scientific work and for his groundbreaking advocacy for gender equality in science. In this memoir, completed shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in December 2017, Barres (born in 1954) describes a life full of remarkable accomplishments--from his childhood as a precocious math and science whiz to his experiences as a female student at MIT in the 1970s to his female-to-male transition in his forties, to his scientific work and role as teacher and mentor at Stanford.
After his transition, Barres was able to realize how differently male and female scientists were treated. He became an advocate for gender equality in science, and later in life responded pointedly to Larry Summers's speculation that women were innately unsuited to be scientists.
Privileged white men, Barres writes, "miss the basic point that in the face of negative stereotyping, talented women will not be recognized." At Stanford, Barres made important discoveries about glia, the most numerous cells in the brain, and he describes some of his work. "The most rewarding part of his job," however, was mentoring young scientists.
That, and his advocacy for women and transgender scientists, ensures his legacy.
Page Count: 160 pages
Imprint: MIT Press
Published: January 2021