Ph.D. Pioneers

Florence Bascom (1862-1945)

In 2009, for the first time in the history of U.S. universities, more women than men received doctoral degrees. Reported by The Washington Post yesterday, women hold nearly a 3-to-2 majority in both undergraduate and graduate education. Looking through the Archive's Women in Science set on the Flickr Commons, we can find some of the early "Ph.D. Pioneers." Thanks goes to Smithsonian Archives fellow, Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette (Ph.D. History of Mass Communication) for pointing us to them. Reflecting on these women, LaFollette says: A Ph.D. does not guarantee a job, success, accomplishment, or sometimes even a footnote in the history of science, but each new graduate has provided encouragement to the next one who tried. Sometimes the hardest part of a journey is having the courage to take that first step.

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