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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v3.i1-2.40
pages 53-63

FANNY COOK GATES, PHYSICIST (1872-1931): A LESSON FROM THE PAST

Marelene F. Rayner-Canham
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Comer Brook, Newfoundland, Canada A2H 6P9
Geoffrey W. Rayner-Canham
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Comer Brook, Newfoundland, Canada A2H 6P9

ABSTRACT

In this biography of Fanny Cook Gates (1872-1931), we see that concerns of women in science originated with the first generation of professional women scientists. Gates was one of the few women in physics back in those early years. She held an academic appointment at a women's college (Goucher College) and performed research with two great names of the time: Ernest Rutherford and J. J. Thomson. When she moved to a coeducational university, it was essentially in the capacity of Dean of Women, a common sidetrack for rising academic women. Her later career was tragic in its downward path. There are parallels and contrasts with the contemporary situation for women scientists, for example, the importance of mentoring and the preference for a collaborative environment over a competitive laboratory atmosphere.


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