Not many people today can name women scientists other than Marie Curie. You many have watched Oppenheimer over the summer – do you remember the name of a woman scientist who joined him in Los Alamos? Sadly, chemist Lilli Hornig is far less known compared to the male scientists in the film such as Einstein, Heisenberg, and, of course, Oppenheimer.
My capstone project for the Public Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate primarily seeks to affirm that there were women scientists in Japan in the early 20th century. Although the government was not active in enhancing women’s higher education and raising women scientists, these women and their supporters created a path for the next generation. For example, Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School and its professors provided higher education, research opportunities, and employment for women in science, even when the school’s official purpose was to train secondary school teachers. Once the first generation of women scientists became professors there, they inspired the next generation of young women, and the cycle continued. In fact, this school produced most Japanese women scientists in the natural sciences in the early 20th century as compared to other women’s schools. Many other educational and research institutions and individual scientists/supporters contributed to this cycle, but their contribution is not recognized outside of academia.
An interactive map that I am creating through this project highlights places/institutions that contributed to education and employment of Japanese women scientists in the early 20th century. If you click on an institution, it will show a picture, a short description of the institution, and the names of women scientists who studied or worked there. It is largely inspired by Mapping the Medieval Woman. In addition, I am planning to create a separate page listing prominent women scientists and their contribution to science and women’s education. I want to make it so that, if you click on a person’s name on the map, you will be taken to a short biography page.
Through this capstone project, I hope to make it easier for people outside of academia to access information about the history of women in science in Japan. I believe it is a small step towards debunking the myth that science is for men.