Women’s History Month – Ellen Swallow Richards

Ellen Swallow Richards (1842 – 1911) Was a female trailblazer.  She fought for the right for women to obtain degrees in their desired fields.  She wanted to be a chemist.  However, women were not allowed to at this time.
Perhaps, this a protective endeavor, to prevent women from being poisoned by chemicals.  For young adults, recommending returning after parenting would be understandable.  However, the outright refusal is not a good idea.  It will prevent many breakthroughs.  It is an issue of understanding the consequences of working in such and environment.
Well before the EPA was introduced, she encouraged and worked on stream water analysis.  At the time, some pollutants were not tested for, or the tests were not as accurate as they might be today.
What would she think of today’s streams full of pesticides, herbicides, and processed medications?
Without the degree, Ellen Swallow Richards continued her studies on her own.  She developed sewage treatment options, which have saved millions of lives over the years.
She fought for healthy nutrition, at a time when the industrial revolution was taking off and filling the skies with pollutants.  She recognized the dangers of arsenic in wallpaper and clothing, at time when other scientists assured the public it was safe.
Her work in the scientific community helped women reach for a future that had been denied them for so long.  Without her work, we’d have reddish grey skies, and toxic, garbage filled waterways.

Works Cited: All Accessed on 02/23/17

https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/ellen-swallow-richards/

http://www.biography.com/people/ellen-richards-9457351

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