Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Women in Chemistry: Then and Now

By Jenny Bennett

Women have come a long way in chemistry since Marie Curie won her Nobel Prize 100 years ago.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

On my notice board at work, I display an article (1936) from The Herald newspaper with the headline “University Training Does Not Spoil Girls”. While the article’s primary purpose is to convey that a university career is beneficial for all students, it also mentions that the examination results of female students at university vary in an inverse relationship to their attractiveness. Pretty girls get the worst results, while plain girls win awards for their academic achievements. Some of you reading this will be amused, while others will be genuinely horrified that such inequality once existed.

As you would be aware, 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Madame Marie Curie. To celebrate this, and to celebrate the contributions of women to science, the Australian Journal of Chemistry published an issue dedicated to women in chemistry. It contains contributions from some of the many distinguished female chemists from Australia and New Zealand.

One inspiring essay from the issue, published in June, is by Margaret Sheil (see p.31), the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (ARC), a statutory authority within the federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research that provides advice to the government on research matters and manages the National Competitive Grants Program.


The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Jenny Bennett is Publisher – Chemical Sciences at CSIRO Publishing.