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Abstract Detail

Botanical History

Lindon, Heather Lynn [1], Gardiner, Lauren M. [1], Brady, Abigail [2], Vorontsova, Maria [1].

Women's contribution to plant species discovery: a new use of historical botanical nomenclature data.

How has women's contribution to science developed over multiple generations? We present the first quantitative analysis of the role played by women in publishing botanical species names, and the first complete analysis of women's contribution to any field of science with a timeframe of more than 260 years. Full data from the International Plant Names Index and The Plant List, up until the end of 2013, were used to analyze the contribution of female authors to the publication of land plant species names. Authors of land plant species were automatically assigned as male or female using Wikipedia articles associating binary gender to names. This was followed by manual research for authors marked as female for all those who have authored over 100 new plant species names. The number of new species names published per author were calculated based on the proportion of authorship. Female authors make up 12.05% of the total number of all authors of plant species names, and together they have published 2.59% of all new names. Female contribution has accounted for more than 1% of new species names each decade since 1900, and had increased to 11.99% by the first half of the current decade. The difference in productivity between male and female authors has declined over time, and female authors are now 80% as productive as their male counterparts in terms of plant naming output. We determined that Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to publish a plant name, Amomum verum Blackw., in the 1750's. The most prolific female plant author was Harriet Margaret Louisa Bolus, and one of the top 10 most prolific women, Dr. Charlotte M. Taylor, is still working today. There are only 28 women authors of plant names before 1900, accounting for about 176 plant species names. In spite of botany's traditional image as a more 'feminine' pursuit, women's contribution to the field was not significantly reflected in species authorship until the twentieth century, around the same time as in other branches of science. This study illustrates how large and highly comprehensive datasets of people, dates and taxon names can be used to answer questions beyond their original intent and scope. Studies such as these illustrate the great strides and contributions women have made in science over the past 260 years and will hopefully will inspire the current generation of taxonomists to narrow the gender gap in species publication.

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Related Links:
Fewer than three percent of land plant species named by women: Author gender over 260 years

1 - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Science, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, UK
2 - 79B Mill Street, Oxford, OX2 0AL, UK

Biodiversity Inventory
International Plant Names Index
plant nomenclature
History of Botany
Women in science.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Botanical History
Location: Exhibit Hall/Omni Hotel
Date: Monday, June 26th, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM This poster will be presented at 6:15 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PBH002
Abstract ID:281
Candidate for Awards:None

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