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Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 Paperback – August 1, 1984
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"A splendid book... Rossiter's tone in recounting [the struggle of women scientists] is never strident. A clear enough case emerges from the sources that she skillfully weaves into a tapestry of social trends and individual experience."(Alice Kimball Smith New York Times Book Review)
"Necessary reading for all who seek to understand the sexual politics of science today. It illuminates how gender has influenced the development of science in this country and how and why our cultural values have followed us into the laboratory."(Judith Walzer Leavitt Science)
"Margaret Rossiter has given us a gripping, beautifully documented account of the struggles of early women scientists in America. It is a moving tribute to the efforts that paved the way for women scientists today."(Women's Review of Books)
"A seminal work of rich scholarly detail... It is a splendid and totally satisfying feast, whetting the appetite for the next volume."(Nature)
"Margaret Rossiter is certainly not the first to notice sexism in science, but she has made a convincing case for its blatancy. Faced with her evidence, no one can doubt that sexism was an accepted federal policy and a powerful force in the scientific community."(Technology and Culture)
"A record of hopes squelched, strategies thwarted, and uncomfortable compromises uneasily made... No one who values simple justice can read these pages without becoming furious."(Ruth Schwartz Cowan Journal of American History)
"[A] fine and meticulously researched book... [which] should be obligatory reading for those interested in the relationship of women and professionalization in the 20th century."(Regina Markell Morantz JAMA)
About the Author
Margaret W. Rossiter is the Marie Underhill Noll Professor of the History of Science at Cornell University and editor of Isis and Osiris. Her book Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action, 1940-1972 is also available from Johns Hopkins.
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Recently I reread the book. This time I looked at the sources of information; they included obituaries, directories of scientists, unpublished manuscripts, contemporary journals, and oral histories. It seemed to me that Dr. Rossiter had done a unusually thorough search for information and used that information to provide strong scholarly support for her conclusions.
Dr. Rossiter has received recognition for the quality for her work. She was a McArthur fellow for five years beginning in 1989. In 2004 the History of Science Society named one of its prizes after her; it is callled the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize.
I would rate this first volume of Margaret Rossiter's trilogy,Women in Science in America, as five stars for those with a scholarly interest in women's studies or the history of science. I think that those who have a general interest in women in science may want to skim over some details in Rossiter's books and read biographies of individual scientists such as the section on Maria Goeppert Mayer in Joan Dash's A Life of One's Own and two books about Barbara McClintock, A Tangled Field and A Feeling for the Organism. (All are currently available from Amazon.com)