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Alberta women in the field, geoscientists in the resource industry, government research, and academia, 1914-1999

by O'Donnell, Cynthia Nelles

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation takes a threefold approach in examining the changing nature of the entry experiences, career opportunitties, and professional identities of Alberta women geoscientists working in the resource industry, govemment research, and academia between 1914 and 1999. First, it explores the literature reIated to women in science, women's entry to universities and graduate schools, women in academia and the professions, and women and the resource fiontier. Second, it engages in the recovery and analysis of the careers of three early women geoscientists. Third, it undertakes an empirical study based on inte~ews of thüty-four contemporary women geoscientists in Alberta- The review of the Iiterature on women in science shows British women were in the vanguard of education for women in the geosciences, the cross-fertiiization of scientifïc knowIedge across international boundarïes, and the impact of the transition from the amateur naturaikt tradition to institutionalized and academic settings, which resulted in loss of visibility forthe early contributions of women in science. The diversity of the careers of Grace Anne Stewart, Helen Belyea, and Mary Tuer illustrates the three different possiiilities in terms of career path for women geoscientists: university teacbing, research and field work in govemment service, and work in pnvate industry and the oiI patch. Stewart and Belyea fit the category of high achievers who concentrated on thek careers, while Turner had a shortlived career in geology, married, and later resumed her teaching career. The interview-based study shows that while career opportunltïes for women in the booming Alberta resource industry are very positive, social attitudes are the slowest part of the job equation to change. While women are gainhg senior technical and management positions, Lingering socid stereotypes and outdated exclusionary practices continue to exist, and women continue to have to work to overcome them. Despite these challenges, a majonty of women geoscientists inte~ewed in the study are expenenchg or have experienced fulnlling and fianciaiiy rewarding careers.
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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