Publication Details

Carey, J. L. (2001). Engendering scientific pursuits: Australian women and science, 1880-1960. Limina: a journal of historical and cultural studies, 7 10-25.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Limina Archive – University of Western Australia


Science is generally perceived as one of the most strongly gendered spheres within modern society. The perceived 'masculine' construction of scientific practice has been the focus of numerous overseas studies of women's historic absence from science. However, the experiences of Australian women scientists, in many ways, stand in stark contrast to this construction. Existing historical accounts of Australian science reveal little about women's participation in the field. It is perhaps surprising to find that, during the first half of this century, women were in fact studying science in quite high numbers. Indeed, few seem to have felt they were doing anything particularly unusual for a woman of their times and few would accept that their sex had any significant impact on their opportunities. This paper seeks to explore the specificities of Australian women's experiences in science, and to examine the influences which allowed then to feel such a sense of freedom within a supposedly highly gendered sphere.