"Review: Taking to the Field: a History of Australian Women in Science -
Jane Carey (Monash University Publishing)
Jane Carey’s new book Taking to the Field
explores a paradox: women have been
excluded from Australian science for many social and political reasons, but
were also present and active within it from its earliest days. It’s a story of
extraordinary achievements as well as struggles to gain recognition and fair
An array of fascinating and talented characters populates the book. One of the
most controversial is Georgina King (1845-1932). Among her many other
investigations, she questioned the accepted wisdom that human evolution was
driven by men. In 1902, she retold the narrative with women at the centre,
arguing they were first to walk upright and develop language.
It was a powerful challenge to the prevailing idea that women “were inferior
because they were less evolved”. Her vision was before its time: it wasn’t
until the 1990s that feminist archaeologists and other scholars took up the
baton to argue for women as equal creators of human culture.
King’s work was plagiarised, and she was not fairly credited for what she had
achieved. The more she objected, the more she was painted as unhinged and mad.
It’s a familiar story even today."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics