WRITER: LENA BAKER
CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: June 29, 2001
Libraries opens Women in Science exhibition
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new exhibition focusing on the impact of women in the
field of science has opened at the University of Iowa Libraries.
"Hypatia's Hidden Heritage: Women in Science" is on view in the
North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library now through September. This exhibition
recognizes Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415 A.D.), the first female scientist
for whom there exists significant documentation. She was noted for her brilliance
in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. She is also notable because she
was well educated at a time when the rigorous education of women was not common
The materials on display are drawn from the libraries' general and departmental
collections, the libraries' Special Collections Department, the Iowa Women's
Archives, the John Martin Rare Book Room at the Hardin Library for Health
Sciences, and the University Archives. Some additional artifacts have been
lent by the UI Hospitals and Clinics Medical Museum, the UI Department of
Physics and the UI Museum of Natural History. Some of the items include an
early nurse's cape and cap from the Medical Museum that was used by nurses
at the UI Hospitals, insect specimens, and a teaching skull that was used
in the UI Dental Assistants program.
Among the women highlighted in the exhibit are Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1972),
who was only the second woman and the first American woman to win the Nobel
Prize in physics, and Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926), who was the first African
American professional nurse. Also featured is Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717),
a prominent entomologist whose greatest contributions to the field include
a careful study of insects in relationship to the plants they consumed, and
the states of metamorphosis of butterflies and moths.
There are also several Iowa women included in the exhibit. Martha "Stacey"
Stoessel Wahl, who graduated from the UI in 1943, went on to develop unique,
hands-on strategies to teach math to children. Also included is Sylvia M.
Stoesser (1901-1991), who received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the
UI in 1928. She was hired directly by H.H. Dow of the Dow Chemical Company
as the company's first woman researcher, and at the time, she was the only
person working on her team with a doctorate degree.
The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, call