WOMEN’S TIMELINE THE 1920-1939

1920

The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, ensuring the right of women to vote.

Louisa Bolus was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa for her contributions to botany.

1923

María Teresa Ferrari, an Argentine physician, earned the first diploma awarded to a woman by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Paris for her studies of the urinary tract.

The first version of an Equal Rights Amendment is introduced. It says, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

1924

Florence Bascom became the first woman elected to the Council of the Geological Society of America.

1925

Mexican-American botanist Ynes Mexia embarked on her first botanical expedition into Mexico, collecting over 1500 plant specimens. Over the course of the next thirteen years, Mexia collected more than 145,000 specimens from Mexico, Alaska, and multiple South American countries. She discovered 500 new species.

American medical scientist Florence Sabin became the first woman elected to the National Academy of Science.

British-American astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin established that hydrogen is the most common element in stars, and thus the most abundant element in the universe.

1927

Kono Yasui became the first Japanese woman to earn a doctorate in science, studying at the Tokyo Imperial University and completing her thesis on “Studies on the structure of lignite, brown coal, and bituminous coal in Japan”.

1928

Alice Evans became the first woman elected president of the Society of American Bacteriologists.

Helen Battle became the first woman to earn a PhD in marine biology in Canada.

1932

Hattie Wyatt Caraway, of Arkansas, becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

The National Recovery Act forbids more than one family member from holding a government job, resulting in many women losing their jobs.

Michiyo Tsujimura became the first Japanese woman to earn a doctorate in agriculture. She studied at the Tokyo Imperial University, and her doctoral thesis was entitled “On the Chemical Components of Green Tea”.

1933

American bacteriologist Ruth Ella Moore became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in the natural sciences, completing her doctorate in bacteriology at Ohio State University.

Frances Perkins becomes the first female cabinet member, appointed secretary of labor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1936

Mycologist Kathleen Maisey Curtis was elected the first female Fellow at the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Danish seismologist and geophysicist Inge Lehmann discovered that the Earth has a solid inner core distinct from its molten outer core.

1937

Canadian forensic pathologist Frances Gertrude McGill assisted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in establishing their first forensic detection laboratory.

Suzanne Comhaire-Sylvain became the first female Haitian anthropologist and the first Haitian person to complete a PhD, receiving her doctoral degree from the University of Paris.

1938

Geologist Alice Wilson became the first woman appointed as Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.

South African naturalist Marjorie Courtenay- Latimer discovered a living coelacanth fish caught near the Chalumna river. The species had been believed to be extinct for over 60 million years.

1939

Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner, along with Otto Hahn, led the small group of scientists who first discovered nuclear fission of uranium when it absorbed an extra neutron; the results were published in early 1939.

French physicist Marguerite Perey discovered francium.