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Margaret Crosfield, FGS (1859-1952): the first female Fellow

Margaret Crosfield investigating the ballstone structure of Wenlock Limestone in a quarry in Shropshire, 1914. Geologists’ Association Carreck Archive. Permit Number CP19/039 British Geological Survey © UKRI 2019. All rights reserved.

Margaret Crosfield was among the first eight women who were elected as Fellows of the Society on 21 May 1919. Benefitting from the alphabetical primacy of her surname, Crosfield is officially the first female Fellow of the Geological Society.

The development of women’s formal higher education towards the end of the 19th century, and the Society itself recognising female geologists’ achievements through the award of its research funds, meant that there was a growing movement within the membership to allow women to join. Between 1889 and 1909 there were numerous Special General Meetings, motions and counter-motions submitted to Council to either admit or bar women but all were rejected.

After the First World War, there was a distinct shift in opinion, illustrated by the fact that in December 1918 another committee was appointed by Council, with the narrow remit to find ‘The most convenient and expeditious way of effecting the admission of women into the Society’.

The result was a Special General Meeting held on 26 March 1919 to consider the simple motion: 'That it is desirable to admit Women as Fellows of the Society'. It was carried by 55 votes to 12, helped along no doubt by the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 which would have forced the issue anyway.

Click on the links below to find out more:

election thumb
   Crosfield notes

The long road to Female Fellowship


Margaret Crosfield and her work

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