Invincible but mostly invisible: Australian women’s contribution to geology and palaeontology
Women have played a significant role in Australian geoscience, and especially in palaeontology. ‘Australian’ women gained degrees by the early 20th century and began to contribute intensively. Australian-born young women already immured to the rigours of climate and culture, collected and illustrated fossils, enrolled in the first university courses, thrived in the field, in some instances outnumbering and out-achieving men. Where women palaeontologists made their mark they often energetically concentrated on a taxonomic group, making them their own, as Isabel Cookson did with palynology, Joan Crockford with bryozoans, Irene Crespin especially with foraminifans, Dorothy Hill with corals, Ida Brown with brachiopods, Nell Ludbrook with molluscs, Elizabeth Ripper with stromatoporoids, Kathleen Sherrard with graptolites, and Mary Wade, initially with foraminiferans and then the Ediacaran fauna. Brown, Crespin, Hill, Ludbrook, Wade and their contemporaries did alpha taxonomy, classical geology and biostratigraphical studies that laid the foundations for making maps and work that became recognized nationally and internationally. Some achieved greatness; some – Hill, Cookson, Ludbrook and Phillips Ross – by leaving the country, either to gain their higher degree or to work. Many – for example, Hosking, Johnston, Prendergast, Richards, Ripper, Sullivan and Vincent – are or have been mere shadowy figures with a few publications and then oblivion or even tragedy. Women in geosciences spanning the 20th century in Australia contributed some hundreds of scientific papers, maps and textbooks.
AAP, Association of Australasian Palaeontologists; AAS, Australian Academy of Science; AMDEL, Australian Mineral Development Laboratories; ANZAAS, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science; ARC, Australian Research Council; BAAS, British Association for the Advancement of Science; BMNH, British Museum (Natural History), now The Natural History Museum; BMR, Bureau of Mineral Resources, now Geoscience Australia; CSIRO, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; FGS, Fellow of the Geological Society, London; GA, Geological Association, London; GSA, Geological Society of Australia; GSL, Geological Society, London; GS, Geological Survey (GSNZ, New Zealand; GSQ, Queensland; GSSA, South Australia; GST, Tasmania; GSV, Victoria; GSWA, Western Australia); IGCP, International Geological Correlation Programme (now International Geoscience Programme); IUGS, International Union of Geological Sciences; MBE, Member of the order of the British Empire; NSW, New South Wales; OBE, Officer of the British Empire; PIRSA, Primary Industries Research, South Australia; QLD, Queensland; SA, South Australia; U, University (ANU, Australian National; CU, Cambridge, UK; MU, Melbourne; MUGS, MU Geology Section; SU, Sydney; UA, Adelaide; UMA, MU Archives; UN, University of Newcastle; UNE, New England; UNSW, New South Wales; UQ, Queensland; UT, Tasmania; UWA, Western Australia); UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
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Where were the women in Geology? This book is a first as it unravels the diverse roles women have played in the history and development of geology as a science predominantly in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and selectively in Germany, Russia and US. The volume covers the period from the late eighteenth century to the present day and shows how the roles that women have played changed with time. These included illustrators, museum collectors and curators, educationalists, researchers and geologists. Originally as wives, sisters or mothers many were assistants to their male relatives. This book looks at all these forgotten women and for the first time historians and scientists together explore the contribution they made to this male-dominated subject. There are individual profiles on remarkable women: Catherine Raisin, Dorothea Bate, Cuvier's daughters, Grace Prestwich, Annie Greenly, Nancy Kirk, Margaret Crosfield, Ethel Skeat, Maria Ogivlie Gordon, Marie Stopes, Anne Phillips, Muriel Arber and Etheldred Bennett. Pulling together this extensive research uncovered common issues and generated emergent themes. The Editors have brought this new research together under these themes and tried to answer the question Where were the women in Geology? They go on to discuss how these role models can be applicable to today's society.