Science & Education

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 125–150 | Cite as

Women as Mendelians and Geneticists

  • Marsha L. RichmondEmail author


After the rediscovery of Mendel’s laws of heredity in 1900, the biologists who began studying heredity, variation, and evolution using the new Mendelian methodology—performing controlled hybrid crosses and statistically analyzing progeny to note the factorial basis of characters—made great progress. By 1910, the validity of Mendelism was widely recognized and the field William Bateson christened ‘genetics’ was complemented by the chromosome theory of heredity of T. H. Morgan and his group in the United States. Historians, however, have largely overlooked an important factor in the early establishment of Mendelism and genetics: the large number of women who contributed to the various research groups. This article examines the social, economic, and disciplinary context behind this new wave of women’s participation in science and describes the work of women Mendelians and geneticists employed at three leading experimental research institutes, 1900–1940. It argues that the key to more women working in science was the access to higher education and the receptivity of emerging interdisciplinary fields such as genetics to utilize the expertise of women workers, which not only advanced the discipline but also provided new opportunities for women’s employment in science.


Cold Spring Harbor Bodleian Library Kaiser Wilhelm Institute Kaiser Wilhelm Society Private Research Institute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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