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Monday, 19 March 2012

Historical Women: Beatrice Edgell (1871-1948)

Beatrice Edgell is probably not a name you've heard of, but if you study psychology at Royal Holloway, she certainly should be! She was the first British woman to gain a doctorate in psychology, the first woman to become a Professor of Psychology in Britain, and the first female President of the British Psychological Society. As the Head of Psychology at Bedford College, she established one of the first psychological laboratories in the UK. As most of you will know, Bedford College later merged with Royal Holloway to become Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, meaning that Beatrice played a unique role in the early days of our psychology department. Her research contributions were wide and varied, and included much experimental work into associative memory, as well as a book on ethics for nurses, and a critical report of the government's use of propaganda for men, munitions and money during the war. She was also well known as an excellent teacher, and trained a number of women who went on to become prominent in the field. She was herself concerned with the number of women in academic psychology, which was greater in proportion at that time than the number of men in other scientific fields, and on why the subject had not (yet?) become dominated by men in the same way as other sciences, and presented a paper on the topic to the Council of the National Society of Women Workers.
Sources:
Beatrice Edgell: An Appreciation. By: Valentine, Elizabeth R., British Journal of Psychology, 00071269, Feb2001, Vol. 92, Issue 1 http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm/volumeID_23-editionID_195-ArticleID_1762-getfile_getPDF/thepsychologist%5C1210vale.pdf

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