the matilda effect

The Matilda Effect

The Matilda effect is the systematic repression and denial of the contribution of women scientists in research, whose work is often attributed to their male colleagues. This effect was first described in 1993 by science historian Margaret W. Rossiter.

It is named after the U.S. women’s rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage, who first observed this phenomenon at the end of the 19th century. The Matilda effect is related to the Matthew effect, which states that eminent scientists will often get more credit than a comparatively unknown researcher, even if their work is similar.

Rossiter provides several examples of this effect: Trotula, an Italian physician (11th–12th centuries), wrote books which were attributed to male authors after her death, and hostility towards women as teachers and healers led to her very existence being denied. Known cases of the effect from the 20th century include Rosalind FranklinLise Meitner and Marietta Blau.

[from Wikipedia]


This blog is about the Matilda Effect, an effect that describes the ways in which various woman scientists are forgotten or overlooked by history while their male counterparts receive more attention and sometimes even credit for their female counterparts work. I will be posting profiles of woman scientists affected by the Matilda effect, answer questions about woman scientists, and (hopefully) hear from other woman in the STEM fields.

A little bit about me

My name is Soleil, and I am currently a freshman studying anthropology, biology, and woman and gender studies. It’s my connection to biology and woman and gender studies that really inspired me to start this blog.

The Matilda Effect

Science historian Margaret Rossiter was the first to describe this effect in a 1993 essay she published in the History and Philosophy of Science journal. She contrasts it with the Matthew effect, an effect named by sociologist Robert K. Merton in 1968 to describe how those who tended to “have little to start with tended to be under-recognized” (Rossiter, The Matthew Matilda Effect in Science). Although Rossiter was the first to name the Matilda Effect, the effect was first described by American woman’s rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage in her 1870 essay “Woman as Inventor.” Scientists like Rosalind Franklin, Marietta Blau, and Lise Meitner are often cited as prime examples of the Matilda Effect.