first American woman in space - 1983 Sally Ride -

Stanford physics PhD;


1969 Boston Women's Health Collective -

discussion groups on "women & their bodies"

"Our bodies are the physical bases from which we move out into the world - picture a woman trying to do work & to enter into equal & satisfying relationships with other people when she feels physically weak & confused about her body.  Learning to understand, accept & be responsible for our physical selves, we can be better people, more self-confident, more autonomous, stronger & more whole."

1974 Our Bodies, Ourselves  - medical info & personal comments; updated 1984, 1998.


diethylstilbestrol, given during pregnancy especially during 1950s but into 1960s; supposed to prevent miscarriage –

result: increased cancer & reproductive problems for users, daughters & sons & grandchildren. 

1974 Berkeley, Calif "DES Action" group;

1987, over 60 DES Action groups US & abroad;


Dalkon Shield - IUD developed 1967 by Hugh Davis (Johns Hopkins Med Sch.); 

A.H. Robins promised almost 100% effective & safe – on market in 1970;

flawed studies, loophole in FDA rules; distributed 4.5 million in 80 countries.

NY OB/GYN: "I have just inserted my tenth Dalkon Shield and found the procedure to be the most traumatic manipulation ever perpetrated on womanhood - I have ordered all Shields out of my office." 

Penn OB/GYN wrote Robins, "It's a gruesome-looking little device that I would not allow to be installed in myself - those vicious spikes would present a serious problem for removal." 

Multifilament string “wicked” up bacteria, making pelvic infection 8 times more likely than with other IUDs;

1972 evidence at least six deaths.  Distribution halted 1974.


women with AIDS – fight to get symptoms recognized on standard Center for Disease Control list;


1980s & early 1990s issue of how medical establishment treated women's health. 

male body as norm - "70-kilogram man"


April, 1991 cardiologist Bernadine Healy first woman head National Institutes of Health.

Women's Health Initiative - 15 years, $625 million. 

political mobilization - Breast Cancer Coalition, 1992 big $ increase


last twenty years, number of women physicians quadrupled - before mid-1970s, women 5 to 8% med classes - today over 41%.


Rachel Carson (1907-1964) - master's degree zoology Johns Hopkins; 1936-52 work US Bureau of Fisheries.

1951 best-seller The Sea Around Us;

1954-1958, US Dept of Agriculture sprayed over 4 million acres of land with DDT;


1962 Silent Spring, warned pesticides being used widely with "little or no advance investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife & man himself." 

President Kennedy investigation of pesticides; 1972, EPA banned DDT. 



feminism + environmentalism = "ecofeminism" 

Germany Green Party – 1980s Petra Kelly.

India movement "Chipko andolan" ("hug-the-trees") - losing 1.3 million hectares of forest per year. 

1984 disaster at Bhopal - 40 tons toxic gas Union Carbide pesticide factory killed over 2000 people; injured 250,000 – women’s clinics;

1991, "World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet" to create women's action agenda to present to UN Earth Summit in Rio.

1994 UN International Conference on Population & Development in Cairo;

world population over 6 billion, projected to reach 8 billion by 2015.


evidence linking women's rights to population control – southern India women high status & 90% literate, marry later & lower birth rate; northern area still over five children per woman.

Issue of female genital mutilation –

2 million instances each year in 28 countries.  


ISU - Program for Women in Science & Engineering;

women help rethink old assumptions in science and medicine;


Science is never conducted in a vacuum.

In science, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask.

To find women in the history of science, you need to know where to look.