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Peggy Delmas on the Work of Catholic Sister Scientists


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Assistant Professor Peggy M. Delmas at the University of South Alabama

"The profile of sisters in higher education, especially in science, is not very prominent," says Peggy Delmas at the University of South Alabama.

Peggy M. Delmas, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of South Alabama, has written a study that sheds light on the contributions of Catholic sisters with careers as academics and scientists.

"Foremothers in STEM: Celebrating the Work of Catholic Sister Scientists," published in the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, addresses why the sisters pursued scientific study, their contributions to science, and how their experiences compare to those of other women scientists.

"Some of the earliest and most influential women scientists in the U.S. have been Catholic sisters," Delmas writes. "Yet their stories and scientific contributions are not widely known."

One sister noted by Delmas is Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller, a co-developer of the BASIC computer language and, Delmas writes, "the first woman in the U.S. to obtain a Ph.D. in the burgeoning field of computer science in 1965."

Keller accepted a position in 1965 at Clarke College, now Clarke University, and initiated a pioneering computer science department, including a policy of allowing working mothers to bring their young children with them to class.

Delmas discusses her research and the sisters' work in an interview.

From Global Sisters Report
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