American Women of Science since 1900

by Tiffany K. Wayne


In the U.S., women continue to be demonstrably underrepresented in the scientific professions, where the competitive playing field is still not equal. But there is no question that in the last 100 years, American women scientists have made significant advancements, contributing breakthroughs in everything from genetics to computers to household products while opening up the culture of the profession.

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Cover image for American Women of Science since 1900

October 2010


Pages 1024
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Gender

A comprehensive examination of American women scientists across the sciences throughout the 20th century, providing a rich historical context for understanding their achievements and the way they changed the practice of science.

Much more than a "Who's Who," this exhaustive two-volume encyclopedia examines the significant achievements of 20th century American women across the sciences in light of the historical and cultural factors that affected their education, employment, and research opportunities. With coverage that includes a number of scientists working today, the encyclopedia shows just how much the sciences have evolved as a professional option for women, from the dawn of the 20th century to the present.

American Women of Science since 1900 focuses on 500 of the 20th century's most notable American women scientists—many overlooked, undervalued, or simply not well known. In addition, it offers individual features on 50 different scientific disciplines (Women in Astronomy, etc.), as well as essays on balancing career and family, girls and science education, and other sociocultural topics. Readers will encounter some extraordinary scientific minds at work, getting a sense of the obstacles they faced as the scientific community faced the questions of feminism and gender confronting the nation as a whole.


  • 500 alphabetically organized entries on American women scientists in the 20th century, including genetics pioneers Barbara McClintock and Rosalind Franklin, Scotchgard inventor Patsy Sherman, and developer of the word processor Evelyn Berezin.
  • 50 brief essays on women in specific scientific disciplines, exploring how each specific field dealt with gender issues
  • 10 essays on sociocultural issues, including gender in popular science, girls in scientific education, balancing career and family)
  • Chronologies of important historical developments, professional awards, and scientific "firsts"
  • Extensive bibliography of reference and other works cited in the entries as well as up-to-date bibliography of scholarly books, articles, and websites related to specific issues in women's science education and employment
  • Indexes organized by subject, key word, and scientific discipline


  • Contributes to women's history studies by showing how women's contributions have shaped scientific knowledge and discoveries in the 20th-century U.S.
  • Includes essays on as many as 50 specific disciplines and index of names by specific discipline will allow researchers to easily locate information on a particular scientific field or topic (for example, women in physics, math, astronomy, etc...).
  • Provides most up-to-date information on scientists still working in the 21st century who can serve as current relevant role models for the next generation of female scientists.
  • Expands beyond a traditional reference book by providing up-to-date scholarly analysis of issues affecting women's education, employment and research questions, and methodologies from a feminist perspective.
Author Info

Tiffany K. Wayne, PhD, is an independent scholar who resides in Santa Cruz, CA. A specialist in U.S. history and women's history, she is a former Affiliated Scholar with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. Dr. Wayne's previous books include Woman Thinking: Feminism and Transcendentalism in 19th-Century America, Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism, and Women's Roles in 19th-Century America.



"This thematic and biographical collection is rich in detail and would be a welcome addition to any library."—Library Journal

"Along with providing significant support for research in women's studies and the history of science—particularly since much of the information here is not easily found elsewhere—this resource is chock-full of role models for young women contemplating science careers."—School Library Journal

"The real value is the section on 'Issues.' Women in science continues to be a much discussed topic and this section does a nice job of presenting what will be for many some new perspective. The rest of the content is useful for ready reference or perhaps as an additional source for a research topic. . . . Libraries seeing heavy use of the 1994 and 1998 volumes will want to consider."—Booklist

"This set is valuable for its unique content and compilation of biographies based on a specific gender, nationality, and time period. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

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