Ellen Richards has many accomplishments to her credit. She founded the science of home economics. We can call this a science because she made of study of determining how to systematize and simplify housework and how to provide nutritious meals at reasonable cost. She saw this as simply arming oneself with the knowledge to overcome the ignorance and greed of others. She felt that women should arm themselves with knowledge of chemistry as well as "mechanical and physicals laws."
She was one of the founders of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, which later became the American Association of University Women. The organization was founded in part to fight the myth that it was not healthy for young women to engage in serious study.
She was the first woman to enter a technical institute, MIT, as an accepted student in 1870, receiving her degree in 1873. There she studied chemistry. She was not charged tuition, which she assumed to be simply financial aid. She came to find out later that it was so the Institute president could claim she was not really a student should any trustee or other student make a fuss about her.
She held a variety of jobs around the MIT laboratories after that as well as doing consulting work testing commercial products and doing quality tests on air, water and soil.
She was the first women elected to the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (1920s).
You can read more about her in "Ellen Swallow: The Woman Who Founded Ecology" by Robert Clarke (Chicago, 1973). A web search will bring up many web sites about her.
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