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Abstract

During the first half of the 20th century, over a third of British palaeobotanists working on Carboniferous plants were women; neither before nor after this period have women played such a prominent role in this field. Few of these women were able to develop significant careers within the subject. They nevertheless produced some of the most innovative work in the field, pioneering work in plant phylogeny, cuticle studies, biostratigraphy, morphological variation, and anatomical thin sectioning. Two factors were critical for allowing this work to develop: the support of a small number of male colleagues, notably F. W. Oliver, W. H. Lang and D. H. Scott; and the existence of colleges that specifically supported women's education, including Newnham College (Cambridge), and Bedford, Royal Holloway, Westfield and University Colleges (London).

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