Catherine is posed in careful scrutiny of a geological map, referring to her research on understanding the structure and stratigraphy of rocks, in particular metamorphism.

Catherine Raisin

1855 - 1945

Catherine Raisin broke ground in many ways, but especially in forging a professional career in late 19th century academia. Catherine received her degree in 1884, almost as soon as it became possible for women to do so. She was the first woman at the University of London to gain a geology degree (jointly with zoology), and was also the highest scoring student that year.

15 years later, having specialised in the petrography, she became only the second woman ever to receive a DSc., having already won the Lyell Fund from the Geological Society, and been appointed Vice Chancellor of Bedford College, University of London. She was Head of the Geology Department there (the first woman to hold such a role in Britain), but also jointly held both the Botany and Geography Headships during different periods.

In 1919, the year before she retired she was one of the first women to be admitted as a Fellow of the Geological Society. Throughout her life she was committed to women’s education, founding The Somerville Club aged just 25, and taking action for the rights of women studying and working in universities.


Cynthia Burek

Professor Cynthia Burek works at the University of Chester and the Open University in Wales teaching geology, forensic science, sustainable development and conservation. Her geological research includes limestone pavements, and she combines her interest in geology, ecology and the environment as the world’s first Chair in Geoconservation.

In addition to her many research-related roles, she has a deep commitment to promoting education, especially concerning gender equality and women’s access. She is Deputy Director of the Centre for Science Communication, Director of the British Federation of University Women and British Federation of Women Graduates, and Chair of the International Fellowships Committee at the Graduate Women’s International conference. She gave the 2015 Sybil Campbell Annual Lecture for the University Women’s Club, and has published on the role of women in geological history, including Catherine Raisin.