Women in science: A temporary liberation - Nature, 2 July 2014
BY: Patricia Fara
The First World War ushered women into laboratories and factories. In Britain, it may have won them the vote, argues Patricia Fara, but not the battle for equality.
In the early twentieth century, female scientists felt beleaguered. It is “as though my work wore petticoats”, cries Ursula, the fictionalized version of distinguished physicist Hertha Ayrton in the 1924 novel The Call. The real-life Ayrton was denied entry to the Royal Society in 1902 because she was married; later she struggled to make the British government's War Office consider her design for a wooden fan to protect soldiers against gas attacks. Pre-war, alongside fellow suffragettes, Ayrton had marched behind banners embroidered with scientific figureheads including Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale, but such protests often aroused contempt rather than support.
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