History Slam Episode Fifty-One: The History of Women in Science and Engineering

By Sean Graham

This is the second episode in our series of podcasts recorded at the 2014 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. The conference was held May 22-25 at the University of Toronto.

The 2014 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians that was held in Toronto was a remarkable event for a variety of reason, not least of which was the incredible scope of the research presented. While the conference broadly dealt with women’s history, there were plenty of sub-fields on display. From the history of sexuality to health to class, the conference was a terrific display of the tremendous diversity within the historical profession.

As someone who never had extensive exposure to women’s history, one of the most interesting panels I attended during the conference was the one discussing the history of women in science and engineering. Of particular interest were the stories of early pioneers in these fields and the struggles not only to thrive in a competitive environment, but also to overcome the culture that attempted to restrict their access to professional opportunities. These women were not only talented scientists and engineers, but also leaders in the women’s movement and opened doors for future generations. Their stories are full of sacrifice and struggle.

In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Anne Millar of the University of Ottawa about the History of Women in Science and Engineering. We chat about systematic barriers and the efforts of early pioneers to break the glass ceiling, conceptions of gender and their influence on these fields, and the emerging field of the history of women in science and engineering.

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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