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Cecily Cannon Selby's OPENING SCIENCE FOR ALL: A Continuing Quest


Opening Science for All: A Continuing Quest tells the

engaging tale of one of few women who successfully broke

glass ceilings in science and elsewhere beginning in the

middle of the twentieth century. By relating her own story

as a successful scientist and explaining how it led to later

competence and confidence in other pursuits, author Selby

emphasizes the broad usefulness of science for everyone.

She hopes this book will help expand science education

from classrooms and laboratories into all daily lives.


Correcting prevalent misperceptions about what science

is and what scientists do, Selby presents science not as a

method for a few, but rather as a means of inquiry, a way

of asking and answering questions that welcomes and

needs diversity in participants. Scientific inquiry shares

many processes with inquiry in the arts and humanities,

remaining uniquely different and useful in requiring

answers that must be verifiable and falsifiable.


Selby’s story becomes a woman’s story as her search

for family and work balance led her to management and

leadership in non-science careers. She served as a head-

mistress as well as National Executive Director of Girl

Scouts of the U.S.A. and accepted appointments to non-

profit and corporate boards, where she found herself a

minority not only in gender but also in science literacy.


Selby defines science as a personal and democratic

practice of inquiry that deserves equal opportunity with

all other human inquiry to advance societal development,

solve problems, satisfy curiosities and help us enjoy

everyday life.

About Cecily Cannon Selby: Following an A.B. in physics from Radcliffe College and a Ph.D. in physical biology from MIT, Dr. Selby was a research biophysicist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute and Cornell Medical College, engaged in electron microscopic studies of biological cells. After her three sons were born, she moved to educational and administrative work as headmistress of the Lenox School and National Executive Director of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., was President of Americans for Energy Independence, and served as director of several for-profit corporations and nonprofit institutions.

Returning to science through science education, she helped found, as dean, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, and was appointed co-chair of the National Science Board’s 1983 Commission, “Educating Americans for the Twenty-First Century.” This work led to her continuing and primary commitment to the professional development of science teachers, a professorship in science education at New York University and trusteeship (now Trustee Emerita) of the NY Hall of Science.

Selby with artist and potter Joan Lederman who designed the cover for Opening Science For All. In addition Joan designed the handsome scarf in the background to celebrate the arrival of Selby's book.