This study documents women paleobotanists and their achievements from the late 1920s to the early 1970s in Germany. More than forty women were involved in paleobotanical research and related fields during this period. After they had finished their degrees, about two thirds of them left the field for private, political, and/or economic reasons. Several of them, however, had a successful career or were even leaders in their field. Compared with other disciplines and neighbouring countries, the unusually late entry of women students into this discipline from the 1930s on is explained by the close affiliation of the discipline with Paleozoic geology and mining in Germany before 1945. It is significant that of the thirteen women who finished a degree in the field before 1945, about two thirds studied Quaternary pollen analysis and vegetation history. Only a minority was involved in pre-Quaternary paleobotany.

After World War II, the number of women scientists increased noticeably only when Tertiary palynology/paleobotany became more important sub-disciplines of paleobotany, a pattern which was similar in both parts of the newly divided country. During the period between 1945 and 1955, the number of women students in West Germany was significantly higher than in the East. This is partly explained by the policies of the East German communist party, which put restrictions on women students from a middle-class background. Between 1955 and 1973 the number of women students in East Germany exceeded those in the West. This was due to the East German party policy of activating the female working force, especially in fields which had been traditionally occupied by men, such as geology, mining, and engineering.

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