Female medal and fund recipients of the Geological Society of London: a historical perspective.
AbstractThe Geological Society of London has historically awarded medals and funds to early career geologists and for career achievement recognition. Mid-career and outreach awards were later added as categories. This paper will concentrate on early recipients of Funds and Medal winners mainly during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 19th century, only two women received recognition by the Geological Society for their work through early career funds (not medals): Catherine Raisin in 1893 and Jane Donald in 1898. From 1900-1919, no woman received a medal, but funds were collected by men on behalf of Gertrude Elles, Elizabeth Gray, Ethel Wood, Helen Drew, Ida Slater and Ethel Skeat. The first woman to collect her own Fund was Ethel Skeat in 1908. Pre-WWII only four women received career recognition in the form of a medal. Gertrude Elles in 1919 and Ethel Shakespear in 1920 received the Murchison Medal. No further medals were awarded to women until Maria Ogilvie Gordon in 1932 and Eleanor Mary Reid in 1936. It was not until the end of the 1990s and into the 21st century that a significant number of women received medals. It is noted that the William Smith Medal was only received by a woman in 2019 and the Dewey Medal has yet to be received by a woman. An analysis of the different medals and funds awarded to females through the Geological Society is discussed in detail with snapshots of the women who were so recognised. As we move into the 21st century we see an increase in these awards to women. The awarding of a professional Society medal or fund is an honour given to few academics, experts or publicly minded individuals. It is a public acknowledgement of an achievement, often coming with financial benefit and can be regarded as peer recognition of a significant contribution to society either through research or outreach activities. During the 19th century, awarding this recognition to a female was unusual. The Geological Society of London began its life in 1807 (Herries-Davies 2007) and since 1831, when the Wollaston Medal and Funds were first awarded, it has awarded 1423 medals and funds to date (January 2020). Of these, 110 recipients were women (7.7%), representing 5.3% of medal and 10.8% of fund winners. However, these percentages have dramatically changed over time (Fig. 1). A larger number of awards were given to women in the first 18 years of the 21st century than the previous two centuries together. The disparity between genders is shown in Figure 2, and the length of time before the first medal or fund was awarded to a female is shown in Figure 3. The only woman to have been awarded two medals is Janet Watson (1923-1985), the Lyell Medal in 1973 and the Bigsby Medal in 1965. Twelve women have received both a fund and medal: Catherine Raisin (1855-1945), Gertrude Elles (1872-1960), Ethel Wood (Dame Shakespear) (1871-1945), Eileen Mary Lind Hendriks (1888-1978), Eleanor Reid (1860–1953), Helen Muir-Wood (1895-1968) , Marjorie Chandler (1897–1983), Dorothy Hill (1907-1997), Dorothy Rayner (1912-2003), Mabel Tomlinson (1893-1978), Dianne Edwards (1942- ) and Jane Plant (1945-2016). Several of these women have individual chapters devoted to them within this volume of research and so will not be discussed in detail here. This paper will concentrate on the early years and first recipients of medal and fund awards to women, and, although mention will be made of the success of the 21st century for clarity and completion, it is not the main aim of this paper.
CitationBurek C.V. 2020. Female medal and fund recipients of the Geological Society of London: a historical perspective. From: Burek, C. V. and Higgs, B. (eds) Celebrating 100 Years of Female Fellowship of the Geological Society: Discovering Forgotten Histories. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 506, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP506-2019-190
PublisherGeological Society of London
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