Women in Insect Taxonomy


I am looking for statistics about women taxonomists in the 20th century, particularly if anyone has numbers of how many were publishing before the 1960s.
Google searches only return incredibly misogynist blog posts, so I was wondering if anyone out there knows of a list or similar project.

Thank you!

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  • Ana, Your question may involve a tedious, interative bibliographic research effort to answer.  I did a few quick exploratory searches just to see what might turn up.  I started with Web of Science and entered the keywords--insect taxonomy--in topic, and limited the date range to 1900-1959.  It only returned 4 articles, and the author names were listed by initials rather than full first names, so it would be difficult to tell if any were female without further research of the names.  I next tried Google Scholar (not the general Google search engine), which limits results to scholarly works like journal articles (i.e., no blogs).  A search of the keywords--insect taxonomy--filtered to a custom date range of 1900 to 1959 returned 2,790 entries, after citations were excluded.  However, after looking at a few of the entries it became clear that many authors names were listed on publications by initials only.  Perhaps this was the custom back then, which would make it very difficult to determine which authors might be women without a lot of extra research.  Next, I tried the search string--"women in entomology" taxonomy--with the quotation marks denoting an exact phrase, and I eliminated the date range restriction.  That query returned 12 results, several of which looked to be relevent based upon the snippet of summary text in the results.  I noticed a couple names--Edith Patch and Mattie Wadsworth.  These articles appeared to be about the women (and had fairly recent publication dates), rather than articles published by the women.  Library access to the subscription journals would be needed to better determine what the content of the articles are.  You might try additional searches using a variety of terms and phrases, such as substituting female for women, systematics for taxonomy, etc. to derive a collection of possible results and sources--and also search additional library databases of scientific articles.  Good luck.           

  • Are you asking about entomologists or women taxonomists of any sort?  I tend to doubt that there is an organized list for either that is anywhere near exhaustive, but we might be able to start such a list and add to it.  In searching the world, this could be an interesting exercise.  You might start a spreadsheet on Google Drive, which is accessible via a link posted here (one that could be accessed without signing on) for people to start adding names, taxon, dates, relevant links, and other notes.  The aphid world has a number of women taxonomists (Edith Patch, Louise Russell, Manya Stoetzel, Susan Halbert, Doris Lagos come to mind quickly), for example.  I would imagine that those specializing in various taxonomic groups might be able to come up with additions in their fields.

    • Hello, thank you for the quick response. Starting a spreadsheet would be interesting, maybe I'll try setting it up if nothing pops up in the next few days. I was thinking about restricting it to entomology and secretly hoping someone would already have done this (well, no list would be exhaustive but one could try). But maybe just letting it open to other areas could be interesting, although much harder to complete.

    • I think if you post the link on this network and maybe on some entomology-related Facebook pages, that restricting it to entomology would be more manageable.  Entomology could be broadly defined to include the other arthropods coming in under our umbrella.  Let me know if you'd like help setting up the Google Drive document (formerly Google Docs).

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