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Discovering forgotten histories

Cynthia Burek and Bettie Higgs, editors of the Society’s latest Special Publication, chat with Bethan Phillips, Commissioning Editor, and Lucy Pullen, Marketing Executive

31 May 2021

The Geological Society was founded in 1807, but sadly female geologists wouldn’t be welcome as Fellows for 112 years. In May 1919, the first eight female Fellows were elected and in 2019, we celebrated 100 Years of Female Fellows.

The Society’s newest Special Publication, number 506, Celebrating 100 Years of Female Fellows of the Geological Society: Discovering Forgotten Histories, presents the often untold stories of pioneering female geoscientists from across the world — women who navigated male-dominated academia and learned societies, experienced the harsh realities of Siberian field-exploration, or responded to the strategic necessity of the ‘petroleum girls’ in early American oil exploration and production.

Lucy Pullen and Bethan Phillips interviewed the editors of the volume, Cynthia Burek (Professor of Geoconservation, University of Chester) and Bettie Higgs (Senior Lecturer in Geology, University College Cork) and asked them about their experiences in geology, raising awareness of female geoscientists, editing the volume and future plans.

Cynthia and Bettie discuss how inspirational physical geology teachers, as well as childhood holidays collecting ‘stones’ on the beach and school field trips motivated their interest in geology. They also note how several key societal changes, such as the introduction of compulsory education for children, facilitated by the Education Act of 1870, were key moments for women in geology. But there is still work to do, and Cynthia and Bettie highlight the importance of building resources that document the stories, achievements and contributions of women in geology — which is one of the objectives of the new Special Publication.

Read the full discussion with Cynthia and Bettie on the Geological Society’s blog page here: https://blog.geolsoc.org.uk/2021/03/18/celebrating-a-centenary/

Special Publication 506, Celebrating 100 Years of Female Fellows of the Geological Society: Discovering Forgotten Histories, is available to purchase here:
https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SP506 and can be accessed via the Lyell Collection at: https://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/506/1

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