Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 509–528 | Cite as

Beyond the Boss and the Boys: Women and the Division of Labor in Drosophila Genetics in the United States, 1934–1970

  • Michael R. Dietrich
  • Brandi H. Tambasco


The vast network of Drosophila geneticists spawned by Thomas Hunt Morgan’s fly room in the early 20th century has justifiably received a significant amount of scholarly attention. However, most accounts of the history of Drosophila genetics focus heavily on the “boss and the boys,” rather than the many other laboratory groups which also included large numbers of women. Using demographic information extracted from the Drosophila Information Service directories from 1934 to 1970, we offer a profile of the gendered division of labor within Drosophila genetics in the United States during the middle decades of the 20th century. Our analysis of the gendered division of labor supports a reconsideration of laboratory practices as different forms of work.


division of labor Drosophila gender genetics Thomas Hunt Morgan women 


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We would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Aloha Hannah Alava, Kathy Cottingham, J. F. Crow, Evelyn Fox Keller, R. C. Lewontin, Jing Lin, Mark McPeek, and the anonymous reviewers for this journal, as well as the Women in Science Program at Dartmouth College. This research was presented at the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Biology in Vienna, Austria in July 2003.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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