150 women in 150 words

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The "150 women in 150 words" project was undertaken by the Royal Society Te Apārangi and published during their 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017. The aim of the project was "celebrating women's contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand", and involved short online biographies of a range of women from early Polynesian settlers to present-day scientists.[1]

The biographies are arranged on the Royal Society Te Apārangi's website in four categories: pre-1866 (of which there are two, Whakaotirangi and Kahupeka), 1867–1917, 1918–1967, and 1968–to the present time. The full list of biographies below is arranged alphabetically by (most commonly used) surname.

Image Name Description Date of birth Date of death
Nancy Adams Botanist and botanical artist, and museum curator. 19 May 1926 27 May 2007
Mary Aldis Scientific author and social reform campaigner 1840 11 August 1897
Catherine Alexander Botanist, and the first known woman to publish a paper in the Royal Society Te Apārangi's Transactions in 1886. 8 December 1862 17 March 1928
Elizabeth Alexander Geologist, academic, and physicist, whose wartime work with radar and radio led to early developments in radio astronomy. 13 December 1908 15 October 1958
Jan Anderson Organic chemist who worked on photosynthesis. 12 May 1932 28 August 2015
Innes Asher Professor of paediatrics 20th Century
Rosemary Askin Geologist specialising in Antarctic palynology and the first New Zealand woman to undertake her own research programme in Antarctica, in 1970. 1949
Paddy Bassett Agricultural scientist, the first woman graduate from Massey Agricultural College, and also one of the first two women students accepted into Canterbury Agricultural College (now Lincoln University). 15 July 1918 20 July 2019
Betty Batham Marine biologist and university lecturer, who directed the Portobello Marine Biological Station at the University of Otago for more than 23 years. 2 December 1917 8 July 1974
Muriel Bell Nutritionist and medical researcher 4 January 1898 2 May 1974
Gertrude Helen Benson Professor of home science. 25 January 1886 20 February 1964
Patricia Bergquist Zoologist specialising in sponges, anatomist and biologist 10 March 1933 9 September 2009
Betty Bernardelli Physiological psychologist who was the commanding officer at the WAAF training school for psychology instructors. 7 November 1919 1998
Winifred Betts Botanist and the first female lecturer at the University of Otago 1894 29 April 1971
Judith Binney Writer, academic, historian and educator 1 July 1940 15 February 2011
Philippa Black Geologist specialising in mineralogy and metamorphic petrology. 26 November 1941
Agnes Blackie New Zealand's first female physics lecturer and probably the Southern Hemisphere's only female physics academic at the time of her appointment. 1897 1975
Ellen Wright Blackwell Writer, botanist, and photographer. 7 October 1864 24 February 1952
Winifred Lily Boys-Smith Science artist and lecturer, university professor, and school principal 7 November 1865 1 January 1939
Janet M. Bradford-Grieve Carcinologist and biological oceanographer. 1940
Margaret Bradshaw Geologist and Antarctic researcher. 1941
Beryl Brewin Marine zoologist, specialising in ascidians (sea squirts). 10 September 1910 1999
Margaret Brimble Chemist who has made investigations of shellfish toxins and means to treat brain injuries. 20 August 1961
Sally Brooker Inorganic chemist 20th Century
Katherine Browning Teacher, who published one of the only four papers by women in the Royal Society of New Zealand's Transactions before 1900. 1864 1946
Carolyn Burns Ecologist specialising in lakes. 3 February 1942
Ella Campbell Botanist and expert on bryophytes, she published 130 scientific papers on liverworts, hornworts, orchids, and wetlands. She became the first woman faculty member of the Massey Agricultural College. 28 October 1910 24 July 2003
Kathleen Campbell Geologist, paleoecologist and astrobiologist 20th Century
Vivienne Cassie Cooper Planktologist and botanist. 29 September 1926
Amy Castle Entomologist and museum curator 9 May 1880 23 February 1971
Gwyneth Alva Challis Geologist who discovered the mineral Wairauite, and pioneered the use of x-rays for mineral investigation in New Zealand. 25 January 1930 21 November 2010
M. Ann Chapman Limnologist, one of the first New Zealand women scientists to visit Antarctica, and the first woman to lead a scientific expedition to Antarctica. 14 January 1937 23 May 2009
Emma Cheeseman Scientific painter and taxidermist, whose work is in the Auckland Museum 4 November 1846 2 October 1928
Marie Clay Academic, clinical psychologist, researcher distinguished researcher known for her work in global educational literacy. 3 January 1926 13 April 2007
Helen Connon First woman in the British Empire to win any university degree with honours. 1860 22 February 1903
Lucy May Cranwell Botanist responsible for groundbreaking work in palynology, and curator of botany at Auckland Museum. 7 August 1907 8 June 2000
Marguerite Crookes Botanical enthusiast, pteridologist and conservationist, author, and founder of the Auckland Natural History Club. 1898 24 January 1991
Margaret Cruickshank New Zealand's first registered female doctor 1 January 1873 28 November 1918
Kathleen Maisey Curtis Mycologist and a founder of plant pathology in New Zealand. 15 August 1892 5 September 1994
Helen Kirkland Dalrymple Botanist, author and school teacher who wrote two books on Otago flora. 1883 1943
Janet Davidson Archaeologist who has carried out extensive field work in the Pacific Islands. 1941
Michelle Dickinson Nanotechnologist and science educator. 20th Century
Joan Dingley Mycologist who was the head of mycology at the DSIR Plant Disease Division. 14 May 1916 1 January 2008
Alison Downard Chemist focusing on surface chemistry, electrochemistry and nanoscale grafted layers 20th Century
Audrey Eagle Writer, botanist and botanical illustrator, who was author and illustrator of the two volume Eagle's Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand. 1925
Elizabeth Edgar Botanist, author and editor of three of the five volumes of the series Flora of New Zealand. 27 December 1929 1 January 2019
Kate Edger University graduate, educationalist, community worker. The first woman in New Zealand to gain a university degree, and possibly the second in the British Empire to do so. 6 January 1857 6 May 1935
Kate Violet Edgerley Botanist and teacher 21 February 1887 26 February 1939
Edith Farkas Antarctic researcher known for being the first Hungarian woman and also the first New Zealand MetService female staff member to set foot in Antarctica. She conducted world-leading ozone monitoring research for over 30 years. 13 October 1921 3 February 1993
Sarah Featon Botanical artist and author, who with her husband published The Art Album of New Zealand Flora. 1848 28 April 1927
Ruth Fitzgerald Anthropology academic 1956
Elizabeth Alice Flint Botanist who specialised in freshwater algae, and co-authored the three-volume series Flora of New Zealand Desmids in the 1980s and 1990s. 26 May 1909 7 December 2011
Caroline Freeman Teacher, school principal and owner, and the first female graduate of the University of Otago, New Zealand. c.1856 16 August 1914
Constance Frost Medical doctor, bacteriologist and pathologist. 23 June 1862 29 January 1920
Marion Fyfe Academic, specialising in taxonomy of planarians and other flatworms, the first woman zoology lecturer at the University of Otago, and the first woman to be elected to the Council of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. 1897 1986
Juliet Gerrard Chemist and New Zealand Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor. 20th Century
Bessie Te Wenerau Grace First Māori woman university graduate, nun, and educator. 1889 1944
Jane Harding Academic new-born intensive case specialist (neonatologist) 1955
Aroha Harris Historian and writer, specialising in Māori histories of policy and community development 20th Century
Emily Cumming Harris Teacher and artist, and one of New Zealand's first professional women painters. 28 March 1837 5 August 1925
Jennifer Hay Linguist who specialises in sociolinguistics, laboratory phonology, and the history of New Zealand English 1968
Harlene Hayne Psychology professor and first female vice-chancellor of the University of Otago. 1961
Elizabeth Herriott Scientist and the first woman appointed to the permanent teaching staff at Canterbury College. 1882 13 March 1936
Barbara Farnsworth Heslop Immunologist specialising in transplantation immunology and immunogenetics. 26 January 1925 20 December 2013
Rangimārie Hetet Tohunga raranga (master weaver) of Ngāti Maniapoto 24 May 1892 14 June 1995
Georgina Burne Hetley Artist and author, her book The Native Flora of New Zealand was published in English and French. 27 May 1832 29 August 1898
Avice Hill Entomologist and herb grower. 1906 2001
Miss Hirst Astronomical observer who published significant observations of Jupiter 19th Century Unknown
Eliza Amy Hodgson Botanist who specialised in liverworts. 10 October 1888 7 January 1983
Janet Holmes Sociolinguist working on language and gender, language in the workplace, and New Zealand English. 17 May 1947
Ngapare Hopa Māori academic of Waikato Tainui descent 20th Century
Alice Woodward Horsley First registered woman doctor in Auckland. 3 February 1871 7 November 1957
Philippa Lynne Howden-Chapman Clinical psychologist and public health researcher 20th Century
Margaret M. Hyland Chemist, engineer and professor. 1960
Alison Jones Academic working on sociology of education. 1955
Kahupeka Māori healer and pioneer of herbal medicine 15th Century Unknown
Thelma Rene Kent Photographer 21 October 1899 23 June 1946
Elsa Beatrice Kidson Soil scientist and sculptor 18 March 1905 25 July 1979
Martha King New Zealand's first resident botanical illustrator. She was a founder of schools in Whanganui and New Plymouth, and a talented gardener and schoolteacher. 1803 31 May 1897
Judith Kinnear Academic, geneticist, and the first woman to head a New Zealand university 12 May 1939
Pat Langhorne Antarctic sea ice researcher 1955
Wendy Larner Geographer and social scientist who has focussed on the interdisciplinary areas of globalisation, governance and gender. 2 March 1963
Diana Lennon Academic and pediatrician, specialising in infectious diseases. 3 October 1949 15 May 2018
Janice M. Lord Botanist and plant evolutionary biologist 20th Century
Elsie Low Botanist, teacher and temperance campaigner. 25 July 1875 14 February 1909
Averil Margaret Lysaght Biologist, science historian and artist, best known for her scholarly work on Joseph Banks 14 April 1905 21 August 1981
Bella MacCallum Botanist and mycologist, and New Zealand's first female doctor of science 1886 17 March 1927
Tracey McIntosh Sociology and criminology academic 20th Century
Ruth Mason Botanist specialising in the taxonomy and ecology of freshwater plants. 7 November 1913 14 May 1990
Kāterina Mataira Māori language advocate, artist and writer 13 November 1932 16 July 2011
Lisa Matisoo-Smith Molecular anthropologist 1963
Joan Mattingley Clinical chemist and author 1926 27 July 2015
Marjorie Mestayer Conchologist, and conchology curator for the Dominion Museum in Wellington. 1880 7 July 1955
Joan Metge Social anthropologist, educator, lecturer and writer. 21 February 1930
Pérrine Moncrieff Ornithologist, conservationist, and author 8 February 1893 16 December 1979
Lucy Beatrice Moore Botanist and ecologist 14 July 1906 9 June 1987
Rina Winifred Moore First female Māori medical doctor. 6 April 1923 1975
Flora Murray Botanist, and second woman appointed as permanent staff at Canterbury University College. 1 August 1896 1968
Margaret Mutu Ngāti Kahu leader, author and academic 20th Century
Phoebe Myers Teacher and educational reformer. She was one of the first women to teach science at college level in New Zealand, and the first woman to represent her country at the League of Nations. 13 June 1866 2 June 1947
Sheila Natusch Writer and freelance illustrator. 14 February 1926 10 August 2017
Wendy Nelson Botanist and phycologist, New Zealand's leading authority on seaweeds. 1954
Hinke Maria Osinga Mathematician and an expert in dynamical systems, also a creator of mathematical art. 25 December 1969
Roka Paora Māori language expert, translator, author and educator. 15 February 1925 15 January 2011
Mākereti Papakura Tuhourangi woman of mana, guide, entertainer, and ethnographer. 20 October 1873 16 April 1930
Kim Pickering Composite materials engineer 20th Century
Suzanne G Pitama Psychologist and indigenous health researcher 20th Century
Josephine Gordon Rich Zoologist and one of only four women who published results of her scientific work in New Zealand before 1901 1866 6 September 1940
Jane Ritchie Psychology academic and expert of child-raising, she was the first woman to graduate with a PhD in psychology from a New Zealand university. 20th Century
Joan Robb Zoologist, professor and curator 1921 19 October 2017
Marion Robinson Nutritionist and physiologist, particularly noted for her investigation of the importance of selenium in the human diet. 1923 2003
Viviane Robinson Educational psychologist 20th Century
Jacinta Ruru Law professor and the first Māori Professor of Law. 1974
Anne Salmond Anthropologist and historian 16 November 1945
Hope Sanderson Geologist, and the first New Zealand woman to graduate with MSc with Honours in Geology at a New Zealand university. 1925 2016
Rosa Olga Sansom Teacher, museum director, botanist, broadcaster, and writer. 3 June 1900 1 July 1989
Caroline Saunders Economist and researcher, specialising in environmental economics 20th Century
Martha K. Savage Geology academic. 20th Century
Brenda Shore Botanist, one of only 20 female Associate Professors in New Zealand when she retired in 1983. 1922 1993
Emily Hancock Siedeberg-McKinnon Medical practitioner, hospital superintendent, and the country's first female medical graduate. 17 February 1873 13 June 1968
Cather Simpson Physicist/chemist and entrepreneur 20th Century
Liz Slooten Marine biologist 20th Century
Anne Briar Smith Children's rights researcher and academic 13 August 1940 22 May 2016
Linda Tuhiwai Smith Academic who has made a major contribution to research methods in social justice research. 1950
Jane Soons Geomorphologist and the first woman professor at the University of Canterbury, and possibly the first in New Zealand. 1931 8 September 2020
Greta Stevenson Botanist and mycologist, who described many new species of Agaricales (gilled mushrooms). 10 June 1911 18 December 1990
Evelyn Stokes Historical geographer who worked in the Waitangi Tribunal. 5 December 1936 15 August 2005
Vida Stout Limnographer and academic administrator, first woman to be Dean of Science at a New Zealand university. 20 February 1930 21 July 2012
Jean Struthers Botany student in New Zealand and an inspirational chemistry teacher in England and New Zealand 1899 2002
Lydia Suckling Botanist and school teacher. 1890 1979
Mary Sutherland Forester and botanist. 4 May 1893 11 March 1955
Miraka Szászy Māori leader and academic, making significant contributions in education, broadcasting, social welfare and small business development. 7 August 1921 20 December 2001
Merryn Tawhai Physics professor, she is known for the development of mathematical models of the lungs that will help scientists understand differences between physiologically normal lungs and the pathological changes that might occur in a disease. 20th Century
Grace Marie Taylor Botanist, mycologist and scientific illustrator 28 April 1930 24 April 1999
Ngahuia Te Awekotuku Academic, short story writer and essayist 1949
Margaret Tennant Historian 1952
C. Jean Thompson Statistician and author, who served as president of the New Zealand Statistical Association. 1940
Beatrice Tinsley Astronomer and cosmologist, whose research made fundamental contributions to the astronomical understanding of how galaxies evolve, grow and die. 27 January 1941 23 March 1981
Colleen Ward Cross-cultural psychologist 19 August 1952
Joyce Watson Chemist specialising in fruit disorders and trace elements. 5 July 1918 28 September 2004
Lydia Wevers Literary historian and critic, editor and book reviewer. 19 March 1950 4 September 2021
Whakaotirangi Māori experimental gardener and early New Zealand scientist 14th Century Unknown
Joan Wiffen Paleontologist 4 February 1922 30 June 2009
Philippa Wiggins Biochemist and physical chemist, who made significant contributions to the understanding of the structure of water in living cells. 16 July 1925 16 March 2017
Siouxsie Wiles Microbiologist and science communicator 20th Century
Christine Coe Winterbourn Pathologist and researcher of the biological chemistry of free radicals. 20th Century
Mimie Wood Secretary, accountant and librarian 1888 1979
Ann Wylie Botanist 1922
Aroha Yates-Smith Performer and social scientist, researching forgotten Māori female deities 20th Century
Pamela Young First New Zealand woman to live and work in Antarctica 1930s


  1. ^ "150 Women in 150 Words". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.