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Rachel Ignotofsky

New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Women in Science

Making women in science visible | Rachel Ignotofsky | TEDxKCWomen
  • About Rachel Ignotofsky

    Rachel Ignotofsky is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Women in Science, Women in Sports, and Women in Arts, as well as The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, The History of the Computer and her picture book What’s Inside A Flower?  Drawing on her graphic design background, she creates playful illustrations and infographics that educate, entertain, and shed light on under-recognized women throughout history.

    In 2015, Ignotofsky decided to quit her day job and follow her dreams by creating educational artwork promoting scientific literacy and historical inclusivity. Starting off with a series of books focusing on women, Women in Science was a New York Times bestseller that highlighted the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contained infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. Women in Sports covered the achievements and stories of fifty female athletes from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than forty sports, from Billie Jean King to Simone Biles. Women in Art highlighted the stories of notable women in the arts–from well-known figures like painters Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, to lesser-known names like 19th-century African American quilter Harriet Powers and Hopi-Tewa ceramic artist Nampeyo.

    Continuing in her quest to promote scientific literacy through educational artwork, The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth is a beautifully illustrated tour of our planet that reveals ecosystems large and small, from reefs, deserts, and rainforests to ponds, backyard gardens, and even a drop of water. Through exquisite drawings, maps, and infographics, she makes earth science accessible and entertaining, explaining how our planet works, from its diverse ecosystems and their inhabitants to the levels of ecology, the importance of biodiversity, the carbon cycle, weather cycles, and more. The History of the Computer follows suit, with Ignotofsky giving an illustrated account of their history from the ancient world to the modern day. Packed with accessible information, fun facts, and discussion starters, this charming and art-filled book focuses on important inventions from the earliest known counting systems to the sophisticated algorithms behind AI, as well as profiles a diverse range of key players in the computer world. What’s Inside a Flower nurtures the child in everyone by using engaging and detailed illustrations alongside informative text, acting as a gateway into the natural world and scientific inquiry through flowers. From seeds to roots to blooms, Ignotofsky shows the building blocks of the flower in order to lay the foundation for curiosity about the scientific world as a whole, encouraging budding botanists of all ages to start exploring with their own backyards. Her latest book in the What’s Inside series, What’s Inside a Caterpillar Cocoon, explores the inner workings and wonders of metamorphosis and the world of butterflies and moths.

    Ignotofsky knows that illustration is a powerful tool that can make learning exciting. In her engaging talks and presentations, she demonstrates how combining art and science can make even the most intimidating subjects approachable. A strong advocate for women in STEM fields, Ignotofsky also explains how representation and narratives can empower young women to follow their passions.

    Ignotofsky grew up in New Jersey on a healthy diet of cartoons and pudding. She graduated from Tyler School of Art’s Graphic Design in 2011, and is now based in California.

  • Speaking Topics

    The History of the Computer

    Computers are everywhere and have impacted our lives in so many ways. But who created them, and why? In this engaging lecture packed with accessible information, Rachel takes you from the ancient world to the modern day, focusing on important inventions, from the earliest known counting systems to the sophisticated algorithms behind AI. Learn about the diverse range of key players and creators—from Margaret Hamilton to Steve Jobs—and the impact their inventions have on our everyday lives.

    Inspiring Girls to Embrace STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math)

    Women throughout history have contributed greatly to science, mathematics, and engineering, but have not always received the recognition they deserve. In this presentation, Rachel will tell the unknown stories of female scientists and how each significantly changed their fields, in spite of considerable prejudices. Looking at the statistics showing the gender gap in STEM fields today, she explains the importance of representation and how these narratives empower young women to follow their passions.

    Science Communication through Illustration

    Rachel believes something as inviting as a happy face can make science accessible for even the most reluctant audiences. In this talk, she explains how whimsical art, graphic design, and imaginative storytelling are important tools to teach STEM subjects. Giving audiences an overview of Planet Earth, she explains its ecology, the impacts of climate change, and how effective science communication can help us protect our planet.

    What’s Inside a Flower

    Get budding backyard scientists exploring their environment with this stunning introduction to the natural world. In this hands-on talk, Rachel teaches audiences how flowers grow from seeds to roots to blooms - engaging children (and adults!) with distinctive art on large blown-up diagrams, coloring sheets, and pipe cleaner bee craft.

  • Video

  • Praise for Rachel Ignotofsky

    Praise for What’s Inside A Flower?

    “There’s an abundance of detail in this attractive first work in the “What’s Inside” series, but it’s never overwhelming . . . The pages overflow with life.”


    Praise for Women in Sports

    Exhaustive and enlightening—don’t miss it.

    Kirkus Reviews

    This is one of the books we’ve been waiting for—a compendium of great women athletes and the struggles they faced. As Billie Jean King taught us, ‘Pressure is a privilege.’

    Lesley Visser, Hall of Fame sportscaster

    This luminescent book tells the stories of women and girls who have not only excelled in athletics, but also often changed the world by doing so. I was agog at these lively biographies, and dazzled by the accompanying illustrations that seem to cartwheel, swim, pole vault, and double flip off the page. This is a book for girls who want inspiration on the field, in the pool, or down the track. It’s also for girls who aren’t sporty at all, but love stories of courage, perseverance, sass, doggedness, and fun. And don’t forget the boys, who will be riveted by these rollicking tales and who need to see that girl power has been alive and well for many years, and is alive and well today.

    Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl

    Rachel Ignotofsky’s delightful book renders the healthy pleasure of sports for girls and women in buoyant color and form—from Bloomer Girls to Skate Bettys, in calf length skirts or disguised as men—reminding us that no matter if you are nine or ninety-eight, the question to ask is, ‘What is my next victory?’

    Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl

    What an inspiring book! These beautifully drawn portraits cover the triumphs and troubles of fifty athletes—some you’ve heard of and many you haven’t. There’s a familiar pattern to these stories: A woman sets her mind on something, someone tells her it can’t be done, and she goes ahead and does it anyway, setting records along the way. You’ll cheer for these ladies, and for author Rachel Ignotofsky.

    Lisa Taggart, author of Women Who Win

    Praise for Women in Science

    In this wittily illustrated, accessible volume, Rachel Ignotofsky highlights 50 women who changed the course of science.

    Wall Street Journal

    With the help of eye-catching artwork, Ignotofsky celebrates not just astronauts, but also the engineers, biologists, mathematicians, and physicists who’ve blazed a trail for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields from the ancient to modern world. The book elevates this information with beautiful and instructive infographics that delve into topics like the number of women currently working in STEM fields.

    Entertainment Weekly (online)

    With short, inspiring stories and the accessibility of a graphic novel. . .the perfect book to share with the science- and tech-minded people (male and female, young and old) in your life. . . .The must-read, girl-power STEM book.

    This book of illustrated biographies of scientific pioneers is hands-down gorgeous. . . .Kids will love paging through this, looking at all the detailed drawings, but they’ll likely have to rip it out of the hands of the adults who are marveling at each new page of factoids.

    Sarah Mirk, Bitch Media

    The book is a beautifully curated collection of personal narratives from female scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, with a dash of whimsy thrown in.


    I applaud Ignotofsky and her publisher for telling these important stories about women through such a rich, visual medium. The world needs more books like this.’s Symbiartic

    . . .an illustrated homage to some of the most influential and inspiring women in STEM. . . .Ignotofsky captures the heartbreaking inequalities that only amplify the impressiveness of these women’s feats.

    Maria Popova,

    . . .a clever introduction to women scientists through history.

    Science Friday

    True fact: This book is so cool that I had to go steal it back from my fifth-grade daughter to review it. . . .this book perfectly balances well-researched facts with gorgeous, whimsical illustrations making it a favorite you just can’t put down.”

    Cool Mom Picks

    If there were constellations celebrating the incredible accomplishments of women in science, Rachel Ignotofsky’s illustrations would serve as the blueprints. As Ignotofsky floats NASA computer programmer and mathematician Annie Easley amid rockets and stars, surrounds Higgs boson discoverer Sau Lan Wu with particles, and cradles Barbara McClintock with corn and chromosomes, she anchors her dreamy depictions into our brains. Women in Science captures the joy of so many essential discoveries while also celebrating the extraordinary lives of the women who’ve achieved them.

    Rachel Swaby, author of Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World

    I wish I had a daughter so I could give her a copy of Rachel Ignotofsky’s lovingly illustrated Women in Science. In addition to Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, and Ada Lovelace, the book profiles dozens of less familiar female scientists—African American, Asian, Jewish, Russian, French, in stylish dresses, lab coats, trousers, spacesuits, shorts—whose accomplishments in astronomy, physics, mathematics, biology, psychology, and computer science came as news even to me. Ignotofsky provides young women with the courage and confidence to follow the exciting paths these pioneers have blazed before them.

    Eileen Pollack, author of The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club

    Women in Science is a comprehensive and stunningly illustrated tribute to brilliant female minds. Through real stories of perseverance and passion, Rachel Ignotofsky affirms the important role of women in shaping humankind’s scientific journey. The book offers the next generation of young women a diverse set of relatable and enormously inspiring role models.

    Lisa Congdon, illustrator and author

    In Rachel Ignotofsky’s edifying and inspiring book we meet some of history’s most remarkable women. Each profile contains extraordinary stories of obstacles and achievements. The drawings float on the pages’ dark backgrounds, making each figure appear to hover in the sky like a constellation. That’s what the reader is doing in this book: stargazing.

    Lauren Redniss, author of Radioactive and Thunder & Lightning

    Paired with her delightfully whimsical drawings, the concise and accessible profiles of women scientists in Rachel Ignotofsky’s book reveal the setbacks faced by women in male-dominated scientific careers and show how these women cared deeply about making the world—and the world of science—a more equal place. With its enthusiastic tone and its colorful layout, this inviting introduction to women in science urges its readers to take advantage of their education and to participate in scientific discoveries of their own.

    Rory Dicker, author of A History of U.S. Feminisms

    This charming encyclopedia includes a page of text and a fanciful drawing of the women scientists you’ve heard of — and plenty who you haven’t! The book has good coverage of the 1800s and early 1900s — a critical time when women’s expanding participation in science was changing the very structure of how knowledge is pursued.  Interspersed with gems like a colorful timeline of women’s achievements, and a cartoon celebrating a wonderful hoard of lab supplies, Ignotofsky’s profiles of diverse female scientists is a great addition to the shelf of any student, of any age.

    Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl, for The Fader
  • Books by Rachel Ignotofsky

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