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The role of women in geological higher education – Bedford College, London (Catherine Raisin) and Newnham College, Cambridge, UK

C. V. Burek
C. V. Burek
Centre for Science Communication, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ, UK (e-mail:
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January 01, 2007


This paper explores the place of geology within science education and the part women have played in geological higher education through history. The context is set firstly by exploring the informal role women have played in education in general and secondly by examining in detail the positions they held after 1870, when female higher education was put on to a more formal footing. To illustrate this, the evolution of two female colleges of higher education, Bedford College, London, and Newnham College, Cambridge, both offering geological education within science, are evaluated within a wider educational context. Finally, the cases of Dr Catherine Raisin, who was based at Bedford College, and Dr Gertrude Elles, based at Newnham College as role models are highlighted within this wider framework. This is supported by examining the student experience offered at these institutions through the formal laboratory and lecture provision and also informally by societies, specifically the Sedgwick Club in Cambridge and the Natural History Society at Bedford College, which were both supported strongly by the aforementioned female role models. Some other key figures, both students and staff, are also examined and an analysis of student destinations from both institutions during the late 19th and early 20th centuries are tabulated. The place of women firstly within science education and then specifically within geological education forms the context of this paper. The conclusions develop a portrait of early geological role-model women.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

The Role of Women in the History of Geology

C. V. Burek
C. V. Burek
University of Chester, UK
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B. Higgs
B. Higgs
University College Cork, Ireland
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2007




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