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

ISBN : 9780198794998

Patricia Fara
352 Pages
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Sep 2019
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2018 marked a double centenary: peace was declared in war-wracked Europe, and women won the vote after decades of struggle. A Lab of One's Own commemorates both anniversaries by revealing the untold lives of female scientists, doctors, and engineers who undertook endeavours normally reserved for men. It tells fascinating and extraordinary stories featuring initiative, determination, and isolation, set against a backdrop of war, prejudice, and disease. Patricia Fara investigates the enterprising careers of these pioneering women and their impact on science, medicine, and the First World War.

Suffrage campaigners aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress. Defying protests about their intellectual inferiority and child-bearing responsibilities, during the War they won support by mobilizing women to enter conventionally male domains. A Lab of One's Own focuses on the female experts who carried out vital research. They had already shown exceptional resilience by challenging accepted norms to pursue their careers, now they played their part in winning the War at home and overseas.
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: Women had helped the country to victory, had won the vote for those over thirty - but had lost the battle for equality. A Lab of One''s Own is essential reading to understand and eliminate the inequalities still affecting professional women today.


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

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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