A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War

ISBN : 9780198794981

Patricia Fara
352 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jan 2018
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A Lab of One's Own describes the experiences of some extraordinary but sadly neglected scientific women who tasted independence, responsibility, and excitement in World War One. Understanding the past is crucial for improving the future, and Patricia Fara examines how inherited prejudices continue to limit women's scientific opportunities. Suffragists aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress. Defying arguments about intellectual inferiority and child-bearing responsibilities, during the War they won support by mobilising women to enter conventionally male domains, including science, industry, medicine, and the military. A Lab of One's Own reveals these women's stories, celebrating successes and analysing setbacks. In 1919, the suffragist Millicent Fawcett declared triumphantly that 'The war revolutionised the industrial position of women. It found them serfs, and left them free.' She was wrong: although women had helped the country to victory and won the vote for those over thirty, they had lost the battle for equality. Men returning from the Front reclaimed their jobs, and conventional hierarchies were re-established - although now the nation knew that women were fully capable of performing work traditionally reserved for men.


Preserving the Past, Facing the Future; 1 Snapshots: Suffrage and Science at Cambridge; 2 A Divided Nation: Class, Gender, and Science in Early Twentieth-Century Britain; 3 Subjects of Science: Biological Justifications of Women's Status; Abandoning Domesticity, Working for the Vote; 4 A New Century: Voting for Science; 5 Factories of Science: Women Work for War; 6 Ray Costelloe / Strachey: The Life of a Mathematical Suffragist; Corridors of Science, Crucibles of Power; 7 Scientists in Petticoats: Women and Science Before the War; 8 A Scientific State: Technological Warfare in the Early Twentieth Century; 9 Taking Over: Women, Science and Power During the War; 10 Chemical Campaigners: Ida Smedley and Martha Whiteley; Scientific Warfare, Wartime Welfare; 11 Soldiers of Science: Scientific Women Fighting on the Home Front; 12 Scientists in Khaki: Mona Geddes and Helen Gwynne-Vaughan; 13 Medical Recruits: Scientists Care for the Nation; 14 From Scotland to Sebastopol: The Wartime Work of Dr Isabel Emslie Hutton; Citizens of Science in a Post-War World; 15 Inter-War Normalities: Scientific Women and Struggles for Equality; 16 Lessons of Science: Learning from the Past to Improve the Future; Bibliography

About the author: 

Patricia Fara lectures in the history of science at Cambridge University, where she is a Fellow of Clare College. She is the President of the British Society for the History of Science (2016-18) and her prize-winning book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History (OUP, 2009), has been translated into nine languages. In addition to many academic publications, her popular works include Newton: The Making of Genius (Columbia University Press, 2002), An Entertainment for Angels (Icon Books, 2002), Sex, Botany and Empire (Columbia University Press, 2003), and Pandora's Breeches: Women, Science and Power in the Enlightenment (Pimlico, 2004). An experienced public lecturer, Patricia Fara appears regularly in TV documentaries and radio programmes such as In our Time. She also contributes articles and reviews to many journals, including History Today, BBC History, New Scientist, Nature and the Times Literary Supplement.

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