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
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.