From comments: women in science, their history as told by… men?

2010 November 22

A few strands are coming together in comments.

First, our linkspam linked to Richard Holmes’s The Royal Society’s lost women scientists, and Lesley Hall then commented:

I’m somewhat annoyed at all the coverage A MAN talking about lost women scientists is getting, when we have several decades-worth of women historians of science who have been saying the exact same thing. This seems to me pretty much the standard thing of no-one listening until it’s said by a bloke (even if the women have already been saying it).

Meanwhile on the Wednesday Geek Woman post on Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Chronic Geek asks:

As a side note. I have been searching for a good book on a history of women in sciences. Can anyone recommend one?

The following have already been recommended:

  • Margaret Wertheim (1995) Pythagoras’s Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War
  • Julie Des Jardins (2010) The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science

Lesley Hall herself also has a book chapter: (2010) ‘Beyond Madame Curie? The Invisibility of Women’s Narratives in Science’ in L Timmel Duchamp (ed), Narrative Power: Encounters, Celebrations, Struggles.

For readers just starting out on this, what works would you recommend on the history of women in science and the invisibility of women in science? What women historians of science do work you love?

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This post was written by mary.

Mary is a Free Software contributor, computational linguistics research student and programmer at large. She can also be found at and Hoyden About Town.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Dorothea Salo permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Jennifer S. Light, “When Computers Were Women.” Technology and Culture 40:3 (1999)

  2. unusualmusic permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Black Women Scientists in the United States (Race, Gender, and Science)

    African American Women Scientists and Inventors (though this is high school level)

  3. Lesley Hall permalink
    November 23, 2010

    I was particularly struck by Patricia Fara’s very readable Pandora’s Breeches, which is very much about the structural reasons for the invisibility of women who were, in fact, practising science. I also liked Georgina Ferry’s life of Dorothy Hodgkin (Nobel prize winner), whose mother, Molly Crowfoot, was also interesting in this respect (became expert in ancient textiles, just by doing it).

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