UPTON, N.Y.--Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber has pulled out a few faded, blue three-ring binders, several books, and other reprints. It's a two-foot pile of paper that provides tangible evidence of her half-century of work as a physicist.

The documentation is unnecessary. The fact that she belongs to the National Academy of Sciences seems proof enough that her work is important. But Scharff-Goldhaber persists. As one-half of a marriage that began during an era when women scientists were consistently underrecognized for their role in research, she wants to make sure that her professional achievements are acknowledged.

There's a soft but insistent determination about her as the 79-year-old Scharff-Goldhaber tells her story. It may be the same determination that was needed to push through a succession of professional barriers. As a young student in Germany in the last days of the Weimer Republic, she was one of few women attending Berlin University. It was...

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