As in other national academies of science of the time, there were no founding women Fellows in the Australian Academy of Science in 1954. The constitution, however, was modelled on that of the Royal Society of London, which elected its first female Fellow in 1945.
Geologist and paleontologist Dorothy Hill became the first female Fellow of the Academy in 1956. She also served as the first female President in 1970. Three other women were elected in the 1960s and 1970s. The rate of fellowships began to pick up in the 1990s, and by the turn of the century new women were admitted every year. A hiatus in 2013 indicated that the academy could not be complacent about membership, and the current President, Andrew Holmes, and the Council, have aspirations for the Fellowship to reflect the diversity of senior academic appointments in Australia, and the diversity of society at large.
As a contribution to the 2017 Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) symposium, this Virtual Issue of the Academy’s journal Historical Records of Australian Science brings you memoirs of six pioneering female Fellows, and articles on Olive Pink (central Australian anthropologist and gardener), and two women chemists (Ruth Gall and Jean Youatt).
Sara Maroske and Ian Rae