WOMEN’S TIMELINE THE 1900-1919

1900

By this year, every state had passed legislation granting married women the right to keep their own wages and to own property in their own name.

Physicists Marie Curie and Isabelle Stone attended the first International Congress of Physics in Paris, France. They were the only two women out of 836 participants.

1901

American Florence Bascom became the first female geologist to present a paper before the Geological Survey of Washington

Czech botanist and zoologist Marie Zdeňka Baborová-Čiháková became the first woman in the Czech Republic to receive a PhD.

1903

Polish-born physicist and chemist Marie Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize when she received the Nobel Prize in Physics along with her husband, Pierre Curie “for their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”, and Henri Becquerel, “for his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity”.

The National Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) is established to advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women.

1905

In January, the Linnean Society of London elected its first women Fellows. These initial women included horticulturalist Ellen Willmott, ornithologist Emma Turner, biologist Lilian Jane Gould, mycologists Gulielma Lister and Annie Lorrain Smith, and botanists Mary
Anne Stebbing, Margaret Jane Benson and Ethel Sargant.

American geneticist Nettie Stevens discovered sex chromosomes.

1906

Following the San Francisco earthquake, American botanist and curator Alice Eastwood rescued almost 1500 rare plant specimens from the burning California Academy of Sciences building. Her curation system of keeping type specimens separate from other collections – unconventional at the time – allowed her to quickly find and retrieve the specimens.

Russian chemist Irma Goldberg published a paper on two newly-discovered chemical reactions involving the presence of copper and the creation of a nitrogen-carbon bond to an aromatic halide. These reactions were subsequently named the Goldberg reaction and the Jourdan-Ullman-Goldberg reaction.

English physicist, mathematician and engineer Hertha Ayrton became the first female recipient of the Hughes Medal from the Royal Society of London. She received the award for her experimental research on electric arcs and sand ripples.

1908

Muller v State of Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Oregon’s 10- hour workday for women. The win is a two- edged sword: the protective legislation implies that women are physically weak.

Lucy Maud Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables.

1909

Alice Wilson became the first female geologist hired by the Geological Survey of Canada. She is widely credited as being the first Canadian woman geologist.

Danish physicist Kristine Meyer became the first Danish woman to receive a doctorate degree in natural sciences. She wrote her dissertation on the topic of “the development of the temperature concept” within the history of physics.

1911

A pioneering Japanese editor, writer and political activist, Raichō Hiratsuka co-founded her country’s first all-women run literary journal Seitō in 1911 through which she challenged women’s traditional roles at home. In the magazine’s inaugural issue, she emboldens women to “reveal the genius hidden within us!”

Polish-born physicist and chemist Marie Curie became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which she received “[for] the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element”.

American mountain climber Annie Smith Peck ascends Mount Coropuna in Peru at the age of 61, and unfurls a banner reading “Votes for Women” at the summit.

Norwegian biologist Kristine Bonnevie became the first woman member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City, where more than 100 people died (mostly female, including many teenagers), results in the largest female strike to date and eventually, workplace safety protective legislation for workers.

1912

Canadian botanist and geneticist Carrie Derick was appointed a professor of morphological botany at McGill University. She was the first woman to become a full professor in any department at a Canadian university.

1913

Regna Fleszarowa became the first Polish woman to receive a PhD in natural sciences.

Canadian physician and chemist Maude Menten co-authored a paper on enzyme kinetics, leading to the development of the Michaelis–Menten kinetics equation.

The National Woman’s Party is founded by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as an auxiliary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for the exclusive purpose of securing passage of a federal amendment. Their efforts revive the moribund issue.

1914

British-born mycologist Ethel Doidge became the first woman in South Africa to receive a doctorate in any subject, receiving her doctorate of science degree from the University of the Good Hope. She wrote her thesis on “A bacterial disease of mango”.

Mary Davenport-Engberg is the first woman to conduct a symphony orchestra, in Bellingham, Washington.

1914-1918

During World War I, a team of seven British women chemists conducted pioneering research on chemical antidotes and weaponized gases. The project leader, Martha Whiteley, was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her wartime contributions.

1916

Chika Kuroda became the first Japanese woman to earn a bachelor of science degree, studying chemistry at the Tohoku Imperial University. After graduation, she was subsequently appointed an assistant professor at the university.

Jeannette Rankin, of Montana, is the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

Isabella Preston became the first female professional plant hybridist in Canada, producing the George C. Creelman trumpet lily. Her lily later received an Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

1917

American zoologist Mary J. Rathbun received her PhD from the George Washington University. Despite never having attended college – or any formal schooling beyond high school – Rathbun had authored more than 80 scientific publications, described over 674 new species of crustacean, and developed a system
for crustacean-related records at the Smithsonian Museum.

Dutch biologist and geneticist Jantina Tammes became the first female university professor in the Netherlands. She was appointed an extraordinary professor of phytopathology at the University of Utrecht.

1918

Margaret Sanger, two years after opening a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, wins her suit in New York to allow doctors to advise their married patients about birth control for health purposes. The clinic, along with others, becomes Planned Parenthood in 1942.

German physicist and mathematician Emmy Noether proved Noether’s theorem, a pivotal result in physics that established the link between symmetries and conservation laws.

1919

Kathleen Maisey Curtis became the first New Zealand woman to earn a Doctorate of Science degree (DSc), completing her thesis on Synchytrium endobioticum (potato wart disease) at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. Her research was cited as “the most outstanding result in mycological research that had been presented for ten years”.

Barbara Armstrong becomes the first woman appointed to a tenure-track position at an accredited law school when she joins the staff of the University of California at Berkeley.