Symposium at the 23rd International Congress on the History of Science and Technology (Budapest, Hungary, 28 July – 2 August 2009) (For more information on the venue and the general meeting, visit


Title of symposium: For better or for worse? Collaborative couples in the sciences

Description: More than 10 years ago, in 1996, a collective volume devoted to the phenomenon of scientist couples was published. But since/ Creative couples in the sciences,/ edited by Helena M. Pycior, Nancy G. Slack and Pnina G. Abir-Am appeared, the topic has received scant attention in historical literature. One may think that this was just a “collateral” output of women in science studies that did not deserve any further attention, however, in our view, this does not do full justice to the captivating perspective of scientific collaboration achieved by people who were also life partners. A closer look at how each partner contributed to a joint investigation or rather delineated his or her own research territory, and how they shared – or didn’t share – reward and recognition, does not only shed light on the women’s careers in science but also on the much less studied paths of collaboration.

This symposium aims to take a second look at the seminal perspective set forth in 1996, in order to provide some information for a comparative framework. Through the study of more couples, heterosexual or homosexual, more details might be added to the taxonomy of wife-husband collaboration put forward in/ Creative couples/, confirming or developing it.

Amongst the questions we would like to raise in this symposium are the following: how did the couple meet and how did they organize their work? Did they collaborate at every step of the investigation or was there some kind of specialization? Did the research topics merge or diverge? What kind of outside collaboration was added and admitted? How did the actors themselves, as well as the scientific community, perceive their collaboration? Retrospectively, to which extent can marital collaboration be seen as beneficial or unfortunate for each party?

Organizers’ names and e-mails: Brigitte Van Tiggelen ([email protected]) Annette Lykknes ([email protected])

Contributers: If you are working on a topic that might be appropriate for a presentation in the symposium, please contact one of the organizers as soon as possible. Send the title of your paper, your name and affiliation before December 10th (the final list of speakers is due to the Program Committee by 15 December).