Textbooks don’t tell you everything. They don’t tell you that organic synthesis has been a cutthroat boys’ club for a century. They don’t tell you about the suicides in Nobel Laureate E. J. Corey’s group. They don’t tell you about flat NSF and declining NIH funding. They don’t tell you that you’ll never get far as an organic chemist without a PhD — and certainly not that you’ll need more stubbornness than brilliance to get one.
They don’t tell you about the grind of the tenure track or the two-body problem. They don’t tell you how your boss/academic adviser (your lab group’s principal investigator, or PI) can take advantage of the fact that your visa status depends on your employment to work you harder and pay you less — that they might delay filing your paperwork as they drop hints that you’re not working hard enough, or just fire you and send you and your family back to your country of origin. They don’t tell you about the common perception that a scientist should be 100% devoted to “his” work (or her work, if she is single or has a “supportive spouse,” as it’s usually put).
You may notice that you’ve never heard about the contributions of female organic chemists. Or you may not. You’ve never seen anything different.