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Early History and Progress of Women Ecologists: Emphasis Upon Research Contributions

Jean H. Langenheim
Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics
Vol. 27 (1996), pp. 1-53
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2097228
Page Count: 53
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Early History and Progress of Women Ecologists: Emphasis Upon Research Contributions
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Abstract

Although women are increasingly prominent as ecologists, a report on their progress through the history of ecology in overcoming personal and societal obstacles provides interesting insights regarding their research achievements. Selected, predominantly American, women ecologists are presented within five time frames according to the date of their PhD, an event marking the beginning of their careers. A general view is given for pre-1900 Protoecologists, followed by brief professional sketches for 10 Early Pioneers (1900-1934), 16 Late Pioneers (1935-1960), and 28 members of the First Modern Wave (1961-1975). The relatively large number of women who earned doctorates after 1975 precludes discussion of individuals from this time in this review. The following issues are discussed in the context of their research contributions: 1) motivating factors, 2) graduate education and subfield entered, 3) mentors and role models, 4) employment, 5) marriage and family constraints, and 6) recognition. These issues are compared with data from recent surveys for post-1976 women doctorates. Each selected woman still alive was contacted for her assessment of her research; 156 research citations display the significance and range of subjects studied. A steady, albeit slow, progress since 1900 is evident, although some problems regarding gender equality in professional development of women ecologists persist. These issues, however, are now more clearly recognized and addressed.

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