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International Conference "Hidden Histories” to take place in May



22 April 2021

The twentieth century has often been hailed as a period when women became important in science, but their participation in scientific inquiry and practice often remains buried – quite literally – in the footnotes of specialist publications and studies on the history of science. Even today, national statistics about women in science are not always easily accessible. Yet, the available data suggest that there are significant regional and cultural variations in how women engage with science at a global level. Recent UNESCO surveys, for example, point to a contrast between the former Soviet republics of Central Asia – where almost half of science researchers are female – and East, South and West Asia – where this proportion drops significantly to 23 percent or less. Similarly, in Eastern European countries female researchers tend to be better represented in scientific fields than their Western European counterparts.

Perhaps ironically, this relationship appears to be reversed when we turn our attention to studies of the history of science in the twentieth century, when the scientific pursuits of women in Western contexts consistently enjoyed more visibility than those in regions like Africa, Asia, or Eastern Europe. The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science (2000) is emblematic of these trends, listing as it does a mere total of 17 scientists from India, China, and Japan as opposed to the 500+ listed from Great Britain, and featuring entries up to the 1950s, a period that roughly overlaps with decolonization in Asia.

The four-day virtual conference “Hidden Histories: Women and Science in the Twentieth Century” brings together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to address two main, interrelated questions:

  • How did women contribute to the making and communication of scientific knowledge in the twentieth century?
  • How do we study the history of women in science during this period?

The conference, organized by HCTS research fellow
Dr. Amelia Bonea and
Dr. Irina Nastasă-Matei (University of Bucharest), features 14 thematic sessions, each comprising four talks. Keynote speakers will be Prof. Andrea Pető (Central European University) and Prof. em. Mariko Ogawa (Mie University). The event is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

For more information about the registration and the full programme, please visit the
event page or download the PDF below.