Curious careers. An Unexpected History of Women in Science and Technology

Mineke Bosch en Ruth Oldenziel (editors)

There have always been curious women with more than a passing interest in science and technology. Seventeenth-century Maria Sibylla Merian pursued her research into the caterpillar’s metamorphosis far into the hinterland of Suriname, while Maria Winkelmann explored the heavens together with her husband for meteors and stars.

The installment of five tenure tracks for women top talents in science and engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology offers the opportunity to reflect upon the unexpected history of women in this area. Their personal lives show the many ways in which women pursued science, and also the reasons why so many of them have been lost to our collective memory.

As a counterpoint to the general introduction of the history of women in science and engineering from 1600 until the goals of the Lisbon agenda, six historical portraits bring into focus the lives of Dutch women scientists and engineers in the past century. Biologist Johanna Westerdijk and chemical engineer Antonia Korvezee were the first women to scale the walls of academia by becoming the first women professors at a university and an institution of engineering, respectively. The crystallographer and popular lecturer Caroline MacGillavry had the honor of being the first academic woman to enter the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Jacoba Mulder, the Amsterdam landscape architect and city planner, left an indelible mark on the twentieth-century expansion of the Dutch capital. Finally, physicist and entrepreneur Caroline Bleeker and chemical engineer and consultant Hendrina de Wijs are examples of women in science who established their own businesses.

Three interviews with key women at the TU/e: Els de Vaan-Bruinsma, the first woman student, Helga Fassbinder, the first woman professor, and Wil Visscher, the first woman to gain a PhD, round out the story of the curious but fascinating careers of women in science and engineering.

This book has been made possible by the generous support of the Board of Trustees of Eindhoven University of Technology.

Mineke Bosch en Ruth Oldenziel (eds.)
Foundation for the History of Technology