Thursday, May 14, 2015

Women in Medicine & Biology: Hidden in Plain Sight

At the ALHHS meeting Rachel Ingold of Duke University reminded me of her special interest in the history of women in medicine.  It then occurred to me that as I had prepared the new subject index, working my way through the nearly 9000 entries in the bibliography, I had been only half cognizant of this subject, and had probably missed numerous entries written by women. "Women in Medicine & Biology" in the subject index then showed only about 28 entries, I believe. After the meeting, as I began to standardize author names, I tried to pay special care to make sure that all the women authors were indexed under that subject topic, and on May 7 I emailed Rachel to tell her that I had 70 entries indexed to the subject--frankly more than I had expected to find.  However, I spoke prematurely since, as of this morning, there are now 109, and I suspect that some papers and books by women authors are still missing from that index.

It would be naive to ignore the obvious male bias since 1912 in the selection and composition of the bibliography; however, considering that I am surprised at how many entries by women the bibliography actually contains.  Obviously, this is an area in which major expansion is necessary.

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