International Women’s Day 2010

Today, the 8th of March is commemorated around the world as International Women’s Day, recognising the role of women in the world and highlighting social, welfare and other issues surrounding equal rights.  Although the origins of this day go back to 1910, the campaign for gender equality goes on and March 8th is a day on which the role of women in society, within the arts, sciences and other fields of human achievement can be recognised and celebrated.

Within the field of palaeontology and other Earth sciences there are a number of notable women academics who have pushed the boundaries of our understanding of pre-history.  For example, Marie Stopes, the famous suffragette and pioneer of birth control was a highly respected palaeobotanist.  She was the first female science lecturer at Manchester University.  An authority on fossil plants, Marie published a number of important papers during her studies in England and Germany.  Staff at Everything Dinosaur have been privileged to have been given the opportunity to see for ourselves some of the fossil specimens that this gifted woman and leading campaigner in women’s health issues worked on.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Mary Anning, a pioneering English fossil collector who was responsible for helping to shape our understanding of Jurassic fauna.  Amongst Mary’s important discoveries was the first English Plesiosaur and the first fossils of a flying reptile to be found in the United Kingdom.

A number of events have been held around the world, celebrating the role of women in society and their achievements, one thing is for certain, the Earth sciences owe a great deal to the brave and dedicated women who helped develop our understanding and to their fellow female scientists who continue this work today.

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