In her new book A Lab of One’s Own, Patricia Fara, award-winning author and esteemed lecturer in the history of science, unearths the forgotten suffragists of World War I who bravely changed women’s roles in the war and paved the way for today’s female scientists.
Official Book Synopsis…
“Many extraordinary female scientists, doctors, and engineers tasted independence and responsibility for the first time during the First World War. How did this happen? Patricia Fara reveals how suffragists including Virginia Woolf’s sister-in-law, Ray Strachey, had already aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress, and that during the dark years of war they mobilized women to enter conventionally male domains such as science and medicine. Fara tells the stories of women including mental health pioneer Isabel Emslie, chemist Martha Whiteley, a co-inventor of tear gas, and botanist Helen Gwynne Vaughan, enlivened by quotations from their letters. Women were carrying out vital research in many aspects of science, but could it last?
“Though suffragist Millicent Fawcett declared triumphantly that “the war revolutionized the industrial position of women. It found them serfs, and left them free,” the truth was very different. Although women had helped the country to victory and won the vote for those over thirty, they had lost the battle for equality. Men returning from the Front reclaimed their jobs, and conventional hierarchies were re-established.
“Fara examines how the bravery of these pioneers, temporarily allowed into a closed world before the door slammed shut again, paved the way for today’s women scientists.”
With its 2018 release, Patricia’s A Lab of One’s Own coincides with the anniversary of women over 30 getting the vote in the United Kingdom, as well as the end of WWI.
What You Should Know About Patricia Fara
Patricia Fara lectures in the history of science at Cambridge University, where she is a Fellow of Clare College. She is the President of the British Society for the History of Science (2016-18) and her prize-winning book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History (OUP, 2009), has been translated into nine languages. In addition to many academic publications, her popular works include Newton: The Making of Genius, An Entertainment for Angels, Sex, Botany and Empire, and more. An experienced public lecturer, Patricia appears regularly in TV documentaries and radio programs such as In Our Time. She also contributes articles and reviews to many journals, including History Today, BBC History, New Scientist, Nature and the Times Literary Supplement.