Attendees of the Commission’s “in-between” conference held at Newnham College, Cambridge, 1999. Photo by Marsha Richmond.

At the 1981 Congress of the International Union in History and Philosophy of Science, Division of History of Science, held in Bucharest, Romania, participants of a symposium on women in science mobilized to form of a Commission on Women, formally proposed by the USA delegation during the General Assembly. Delegates of the USA who supported the motion included Sally Gregory Kohlstedt and Thomas P. Hughes. After a favorable vote, the Commission was formed with Margaret W. Rossiter elected the Commission’s first President.

The original charge of the Commission included the following four objectives:

  1. To hold meetings between Congresses and form symposia at subsequent International Congresses;
  2. To prepare bibliographies and promote the preservation of records;
  3. To encourage the comparative, international history of women in science, technology, and medicine; and
  4. To promote communication among scholars doing research on the subject.

Among the founding members who attended the Commission’s initial meeting held during the Congress included

  • Pnina Abir-Am (Canada and Israel)
  • Marianna Belis (Romania)
  • Diana Dyason (Australia)
  • Marian Fournier (Netherlands)
  • Suzanna Gadea (Romania)
  • Ines Harding (Chile and West Germany)
  • Daryl Haftner (USA)
  • Brigitte Hoppe (West Germany)
  • Joy Harvey (USA)
  • Danielle Jacquart (France)
  • Sally Gregory Kohlstedt (USA)
  • Olga Lejneva (USSR)
  • Mary Robischon (USA)
  • Margaret Rossiter (USA)
  • Eva Vamos (Hungary)
  • John Beer (observer, USA)

The Commission held symposiums at the following Congresses:

  • Bucharest, 1981
  • Berkeley, 1985
  • Hamburg/Munich, 1989
  • Zaragoza, 1993
  • Liege, 1997
  • Mexico City, 2001
  • Beijing, 2005
  • Budapest, 2009
  • Manchester, 2013
  • Rio De Janeiro, 2017
  • Prague (virtual), 2021

The following “in-between” conferences were also held:

  • Veszprem, 1983
  • Sopron / Vienna, 1992
  • Cambridge, 1999
  • Prague, 2003
  • Syros, 2007
  • Paris, 2011
  • Prague, 2015
  • Tel Aviv, 2019

Past Presidents of the Commission are

  • Margaret W. Rossiter (USA), 1981–1989
  • Eva Vamos (Hungary), 1989–1997
  • Ida Stamhuis (Netherlands), 1997–2005
  • Annette Vogt (Germany), 2005–2013
  • Maria Rentetzi (Greece), 2013–2021