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Women Scientists in America

, 448 pages

36 halftones, 17 line drawings

October 2013



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Women Scientists in America

Forging a New World since 1972

Volume 3

The third volume of Margaret W. Rossiter’s landmark survey of the history of American women scientists focuses on their pioneering efforts and contributions from 1972 to the present. Central to this story are the struggles and successes of women scientists in the era of affirmative action. Scores of previously isolated women scientists were suddenly energized to do things they had rarely, if ever, done before—form organizations and recruit new members, start rosters and projects, put out newsletters, confront authorities, and even fight (and win) lawsuits. Rossiter follows the major activities of these groups in several fields—from engineering to the physical, biological, and social sciences—and their campaigns to raise consciousness, see legislation enforced, lobby for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and serve as watchdogs of the media. This comprehensive volume also covers the changing employment circumstances in the federal government, academia, industry, and the nonprofit sector and discusses contemporary battles to increase the number of women members of the National Academy of Science and women presidents of scientific societies.

In writing this book, Rossiter mined nearly one hundred previously unexamined archival collections and more than fifty oral histories. With the thoroughness and resourcefulness that characterize the earlier volumes, she recounts the rich history of the courageous and resolute women determined to realize their scientific ambitions.

Margaret W. Rossiter is the Marie Underhill Noll Professor of the History of Science at Cornell University and former editor of Isis and Osiris. Her prize-winning books Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 and Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action, 1940–1972 are also published by Johns Hopkins . Professor Rossiter was a MacArthur Fellow from 1989 until 1994.

"What we have here is a remarkable example of historian as detective... The attention Rossiter gives to identifying individuals and the details she provides about marriage, barriers,... underrecognition, disappointments, and—yes—real accomplishments and rewards breathe life into her frequently poignant account."

"Highly readable and exquisitely informative. Rossiter's documentation of this gloomy chapter in the history of women striving to make a place for themselves in science serves as a pungent antidote for questions concerning the fairness of affirmative action."

"Offering valuable information on women scientists and suggesting additional research opportunities, Rossiter's second volume stands as a significant contribution to both women's history and the history of American science."

"A full, complex picture of the marginalization of American women scientists in this era... I recommend this book to anyone involved in science: the questions about the sexual politics of science it tackles and provokes are too important to be ignored."

"Rossiter gives the foundation, on the basis of which it is possible for other scholars to ask and answer such questions. Nor does she discuss in her books, what feminism is and other theoretical questions. Her style of work is very meticulous and scholarly, as she digs up all the names and all the facts, and she is a very knowledgeable historian and a skilled and sophisticated statistician. Her last mentioned quality is of course of special value to us mathematicians."

"Rossiter's extraordinarily detailed account offers compelling data alongside the multiple stories of individual women, both those thwarted by discrimination and those who emerged as outstanding success stories... This book should be read by skeptics who don't believe that there is persisting prejudice. It also provides inspiration and ideas for those who relish the stories of women who now deservedly do make history."

"Rossiter has performed a herculean task, gathering and synthesizing an abundance of information into a narrative that shows both the positive developments that have taken place since 1972 and the many challenges that remain."

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