How Do We Write Women in the History of Science?

Symbolic picture for the article. The link opens the image in a large view.

Were women written out of the history of science? Or was science history written from a masculine perspective, concerning  topics and sites explored? Did history of science ignore those roles that were predominantly feminine? This seminar offers an opportunity to address these questions by putting two historical approaches in dialogue : the scientific biography and the cohort analysis of female practioners.


Our discussants:

Dr. Brigitte van Tiggelen


Speaks about:

Beyond the surface:  Revisiting the case of Agnes Pockels (1862-1935) 


Born at a time when women were not allowed on the university banks, not to mention laboratories, Agnes Pockels contributed pioneering experimental work in the field of surface science from the domestic settings of her parent’s home. Her case is among the many used to celebrate the presence of women in science, illustrate their struggles and victories, and provide role models or instances of past gender imbalances.  By revisiting the case of Pockels, I aim at identifying these layers of interpretations including those that were already at play in the (auto)biographical material and early historical accounts of her life and work.


Dr. Agata Ignaciuk


Oral history and shared authority: women gynaecologists – abortion providers in Spain (1980s)


Abortion was partially decriminalised in Spain in 1985. In 1986, the government liberalised  the abortion marketplace through a decree that enabled the operation of private abortion clinics. I study the professional and militant trajectories of women gynaecologists who became abortion providers in the 1980s, against the mutually reinforcing historical traditions of women’s medical practice, family planning activism and local feminist activism that excluded and/or rejected the provision of abortion services. I reflect on the methodological challenges of an in-progress oral history project focusing on abortion providers and possible strategies for overcoming these challenges.




Prof. Dr. Maria Rentetzi


Date: 23 November 2023, 14:00-16:00

Where: Werner von Siemens Strasse 61, 2nd floor, room 2.21


featured image: The names of the women seated before microscopes in this undated photo were not recorded. (Bettmann / Getty) appeared in The Atlantic