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A Centenary Celebration of the First Female Fellows of the Geological Society of London

21 May 2019
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Event type:
Conference, Specialist Group
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, History of Geology Group
The Geological Society, Burlington House
Event status:

This conference celebrates 100 years since the admission of the first female geologists as Fellows of the Geological Society  - 21 May 1919. The general theme is the historical contribution of women to geology. 

Register for the event on the History of Geology Group website

The presentations will build on and expand the work achieved at an exploratory conference held in 2005 “The Role of Women in the History of Geology”. The conference will also include a celebration conference dinner at the Geological Society and it is hoped to publish the proceedings.

We have secured the President of the Geological Society of America, Robbie Gries, to give the keynote speech following on from her book published in 2017 on Anomalies: Pioneering women in the petroleum industry 1917-2017. She will address the topic ‘World War I through affirmative action _ Women in Petroleum Geology make a difference’ which updates her previous work with additional material and new research. 

Other speakers and poster presenters include 

  • Cherry Lewis
  • Paddy Boylan
  • Cynthia Burek
  • Bettie Higgs
  • Mary Orr
  • Martina Kolhl-Ebert
  • Susan Hegarty
  • Consuelo Sendino 
  • and Sue Turner

Topics covered are as diverse and will include 

  • individual’s contributions to geological research
  • details on the first female Fellows (FGS) including the first female President of the Geological Society 
  • a focus women at the dawn of diamond discovery in Siberia 
  • and a feminists’ guide to dinosaurs.

If you are interested in contributing to discussion about the early roles of women geologists, this is the conference for you. 

Registration will include tea and coffee, a book of abstracts for the papers and posters and a lunch.

The evening reception will be an additional charge with celebratory cake and wine.

History of Geology Group Website:


 The Role of Women in the History of Geology 

Where were the women in Geology? This book is a first as it unravels the diverse roles women have played in the history and development of geology as a science predominantly in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and selectively in Germany, Russia and US. The volume covers the period from the late eighteenth century to the present day and shows how the roles that women have played changed with time. These included illustrators, museum collectors and curators, educationalists, researchers and geologists.

Originally as wives, sisters or mothers many were assistants to their male relatives. This book looks at all these forgotten women and for the first time historians and scientists together explore the contribution they made to this male-dominated subject. 

There are individual profiles on remarkable women: 

Catherine Raisin, Dorothea Bate, Cuvier’s daughters, Grace Prestwich, Annie Greenly, Nancy Kirk, Margaret Crosfield, Ethel Skeat, Maria Ogivlie Gordon, Marie Stopes, Anne Phillips, Muriel Arber and Etheldred Bennett. 

Pulling together this extensive research uncovered common issues and generated emergent themes. 

The Editors have brought this new research together under these themes and tried to answer the question 'Where were the women in Geology?' They go on to discuss how these role models can be applicable to today’s society.

Available for the Geological Society Bookshop

Event Programme


Session 1 Chair: Prof. Cynthia Burek

9.55 -10.00 Cynthia Burek Welcome and introduction 
10.00-10.50 Keynote: Robbie Gries World War I through Affirmation Action — Women in Petroleum Geology Make a Difference

10.50-11.10 Glynda Easterbrook Janet Watson: First female President of the Geological Society

11.10-11.30 Coffee and *Posters

Session 2 Chair: Dr. Bettie Higgs

11.30-11.50 Cynthia Burek The very first female Fellow of the Geological Society: Margaret Chorley Crosfield

11.50-12.10 Carl Thompson Maria Graham and the Geological Society

12.10-12.30 Kölbl- Ebert Martina Ladies with hammers - exploring a social paradox in the early 19th century of Britain

12.30-12.50 Mary Orr Collecting women in Geology: Opening the international case of a Scottish 'Cabinétière', Eliza Gordon Cumming (1815-1842)

12.50-1.10 Susan Hegarty Female students of geology in Victorian Dublin

1.10-2.00 Lunch and *Poster session

Session 3 Chair: Duncan Hawley

2.00-2.20 Sue Turner Far-flung Female (and Bone-hunting) Fellows

2.20-2.40 Jane Tubb and Cynthia Burek Gertrude Elles: the pioneering graptolite geologist in a woolly hat

2.40-3.00 Kate Kiseeva and A. Dymshits Women at the dawn of diamond discovery in Siberia

3.00-3.20 Jenny Bennett and John Mather Eileen Mary Lind Hendriks (1887–1978): her determination to pursue a geological career resulted in major advances in understanding the geology of South-West England

3.20-3.40 Consuelo Sendino Ida Slater: a modern researcher at the beginning of the 20th century

3.40-4.00 Coffee and *Posters

Session 4 Chair Prof. John Mather

4.00-4.20 Cherry Lewis Two for the price of one: Doris Reynolds (1899-1985)

4.20-4.40 Patrick Boylan Dr. Dorothy Rayner (1912-2003)

4.40-5.00 Bruce Hobbs and Alan Jones Rosemary Hutton

5.00-5.20 Bettie Higgs Understanding the Earth: the work of Marie Tharp (1920-2006)

5.20-5.45 Discussion and Closing remarks

6.00-7.00 Reception
7.00-9.00 Celebratory Dinner

*Posters Author Title

Sandra Freshney Being seen and heard: Archives, Women and Geology
Cynthia Burek Two forgotten Female Fellows of the Geological Society: Mabel Elizabeth Tomlinson and Isabel Ellie Knaggs
Cynthia Burek The Female Geological Society Medal and Fund winners
Emma Jude and Luisa-Maria MacCormack "A feminist's guide to dinosaurs" - reflections from an interdisciplinary arts/science public tour


Geolsoc Contact

David Riach

Geological Society of London
Burlington House
Piccadilly, London
United Kingdom