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Joan Mattingley

Clinical Chemist (1926-2015)

“Girls who want a career in science have to be very stubborn to cope with disapproval, discouragement and hindrance.” So said Joan Mattingley who, upon applying for work at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at the age of 17, was told that girls couldn’t be botanists because it required tramping.1

Mattingley had botany lessons at school, and received after school tuition from a teacher for a Girl Guide badge in astronomy. But at university, she recalled, there were many who considered it a waste of time for women to do science because they “only get married”. Mattingley persisted, gained a PhD, was involved in all aspects of clinical chemistry and went on to become the senior scientific officer in Wellington Hospital’s biochemistry research unit. She was president of the New Zealand Association of Scientists twice, was active in the Federation of Graduate Women, and wrote a biography of scientist Brian Shoreland.2


1. Paula Martin, ‘Profiles of Senior New Zealand Women in Science’, Lives with Science, 1993, p. 40.

2. ‘NZAS_history_pt_3_1974-91_NZSR71_4.Pdf’, accessed 25 September 2017, http://scientists.org.nz/files/page/2010/07/NZAS_history_pt_3_1974-91_NZSR71_4.pdf.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.