Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary

By Benjamin F. Shearer; Barbara S. Shearer | Go to book overview
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tuberculin and for preparing the International Standard of Tuberculin. Seibert also received numerous other honors and awards for her work, including five honorary degrees.

Seibert retired from the University of Pennsylvania near the end of 1958. She and her sister moved to Florida. After a five-year hiatus from active research, she found that she still had other challenges to meet. The next phase of her life was centered upon the isolation and elimination of bacteria in cancer.

Although Seibert advanced in her field as a researcher, she found early on that she and Dr. Florence Sabin were the only women present at most of the National Tuberculosis Association meetings they attended. That she was not the only woman, however, did make a difference in her life. It was to Sabin, who was on the Guggenheim board, that Seibert turned for support when applying for her Guggenheim. Seibert's mentor from her graduate student days had wanted to put her forward for this award but died before he could help her achieve the fellowship.

An article on Seibert in the September 6, 1942, edition of the New York Times, entitled "Her Battlefield Is a Laboratory," noted that she had become "somewhat of a legend among those who seek a preventive and an antidote for tuberculosis." The same article emphasized that Seibert did not fit the stereotype of a "scientist." At 4 feet 9 inches in height, she was a short woman who weighed less than 100 pounds. The article described her as being "deceptively different from the average idea of a distinguished scientist. She is not absentminded. . . . Her voice is . . . soft . . . , but when she talks her statements are as clearly outlined as the facets of a diamond." 7

Throughout most of her life, Seibert worked as a scientist. Her views about who could do science were summed up in an interview: "'Science has a lot of big men in it. . . . And big men are quick to give opportunities to women as well as to men if they see the kind of ability a scientific problem calls for and a willingness to put into it the kind of work it needs. But . . . science is not a lazy man's job--or a lazy woman's, either.'" 8

Near the end of her life, Seibert was still being honored for her work. In 1990 she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She died in 1991 in St. Petersburg, Florida, survived by her sister Mabel. 9


Notes
1.
Florence B. Seibert, Pebbles on the Hill of a Scientist ( St. Petersburg, Fla.: St. Petersburg Printing, 1968), p. 4.

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