Today is International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion the museum organised a short lunchtime tour and talk celebrating the pioneering work of some women associated with the Manchester Museum.
We met in the reception area of the Museum where Anna Bunney, Curator of Public Programmes gave an introduction to the tour and talked about the history of women working in the Museum. We then went upstairs to to the Manchester Gallery where the work of some of our pioneering female botanists is showcased. Andrea Winn, Curator of Community Exhibitions, gave a great talk about why Lydia Becker, Kathleen Drew-Baker, Marie Stopes and Jessie Heywood were so important not just to the advancement of rights for women but also for their contribution to the advancement of science.
Finally we took the group up to the herbarium where I had laid out some more information and specimens collected by these women. Here the group had the opportunity to see some specimens at close range and even handle some of the more robust objects. The group seem fascinated and interested by the tour. However, I was especially pleased when one Phd student told me how much she was inspired and motivated by the stories of these women. I’m sure Jessie, Kathleen, Marie and Lydia would be delighted to know that their hard work is still having a positive effect on women of the 21st Century – thank you ladies!