Marianne (Marika) Ainley (nee Gosztonyi) 1937 - 2008 was born on December 4, 1937 in Budapest, Hungary. She started out her adult life as a chemist after receiving her diploma in industrial chemistry from Petrik Lajos Polytechnical College of Chemistry in Budapest in 1956. She immigrated to Sweden in 1956 to escape the unrest accompanying the failed Hungarian Revolution, and then to Montreal, Quebec in 1957.
In Montreal, she worked as a laboratory technician during which she studied aesthetics, music appreciation and literature at Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University) from 1961-1964, earning a bachelor's degree in English and French literature. In 1966, she became a research assistant at Loyola College (now part of Concordia) in the Chemistry department under Dr. Thomas Nogrady. She worked under Dr. Thomas Nogrady from 1966-1969 and 1973-1974, taking a hiatus for the birth of her son during which she developed her interest in birding and pottery. Between 1967 and 1969, she studied pottery under Grace Atkinson and Rai Nakashima at the Potter's Club in Montreal. She exhibited some of her pottery at the Potter's Club in the Montreal Studio Fair. In 1974, she became a laboratory instructor in the Chemistry Department at Loyola College where she worked until 1978.
In 1979, upon the recommendation of a colleague to look into the History of Science Program (Histoire et de sociopolitique des sciences) at the Universite de Montreal, Ainley applied and was accepted. While attending the Universite de Montréal, Ainley was employed as a research assistant in the History of Science Program at Concordia and completed Cornell University's certificate in ornithology. She graduated with a Master of Science in 1980 from the Institut d'histoire et de sociopolitique des sciences of the Universite de Montreal upon the completion of her thesis on the history of American ornithologists, "La professionnalisation de l'ornithologie Americaine, 1870-1979." Ainley continued her research in ornithology while completing her PhD at McGill University, graduating in 1985 upon the completion of her dissertation, "From Natural History to Avian Biology: Canadian Ornithology, 1860-1950."
Shortly after completing her PhD, Ainley received a grant to write a biography of zoologist William Rowan. In the same year, she applied for and received post-doctoral funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which she spent at McGill studying the history of Canadian women in science. She also co-curated "the Bicentennial of J.J. Audubon" exhibition at McGill University. In 1986, she secured multi-year funding (from 1986-1988) as an independent scholar through the Women and Work Strategic Grants program for "Women and Scientific Work in Canada, I."
In 1988, she became a lecturer at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University and, in the following year, received her second Women and Work strategic grant for "Women and Scientific Work in Canada, II," which funded her research until 1992. In her first semester at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, while developing a course on historical and contemporary perspectives of women, science and technology, she recognized a dearth of material on the subject and solicited a series of essays, which became "Despite the Odds: Essays on Canadian Women and Science." Ainley edited the book, published in 1990, and contributed a chapter and bibliography. In the same year, she became a visiting scholar in the women’s studies at Carleton University as well as a researcher for and curator of the "Canadian Achievements in Science" historical photograph exhibition at Concordia University. Upon returning to the Simone de Beauvoir Institute in 1991, she became the principal and a half-time associate professor of women’s studies. She began work as a co-investigator on another SSHRC funded project, "Critical Turning Points: Women Engineers Within and Outside the Profession," on women in the field of engineering in 1993. In the same year, she received a grant to publish her biography of William Rowan, entitled, "Restless Energy—A Biography of William Rowan, 1891-1957."
In 1995, Ainley accepted a position as a professor and the chair of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia, serving as chair until 1998 and as a professor until 2003. In 1999, Ainley became the president of the Canadian Women's Studies Association, of which she was a member since 1988. In 2000 and 2003, Ainley was a visiting professor at the Centre for Social Science Research at the Central Queensland University. In 2001, Ainley was a visiting scholar at Auckland University's Institute for the Study of Gender; she received associate professor emeritus status from the University of Concordia; and received the "Teaching as if the World Mattered" award from the Biology as if the World Mattered Research Group in Canada. In the same year, she received a SSHRC grant for her research project, "Re-explorations: new perspectives on gender, environment and the transfer of knowledge in 19th and 20th century Canada and Australia."
During her time at the University of Northern British Columbia, Ainley began her magnum opus, originally titled, "Overlooked Dimensions: Women and Scientific Work at Canadian Universities, 1884-1980." The book drew on her previous research, including research from her Women and Work SSHRC grants and "Critical Turning Points: Women Engineers Within and Outside the Profession," as well as oral history projects completed by other researchers and institutions. The book provides an overview of the history of women and scientific work at Canadian universities. It was posthumously published as Creating Complicated Lives: Women and Science at English-Canadian Universities, 1880-1980 by the McGill-Queen's University Press in 2012.
She continued her artistic pursuits and birding at the University of Northern British Columbia. She studied watercolour under Jennifer Ferris, Barry Rafuse and June Swanky Parker, drawing under Mary Richer and acrylics under Marlene Roberts between 1997 and 2001. She exhibited works at a variety of venues in Prince George from 1997-2000, including an exhibition at the Prince George Art Gallery in 1999, and exhibitions at the British Columbia Festival of Arts from 1998-2000. She was part of the Artists' Workshop in Prince George from 1997-2004. She served on the University of Northern British Columbia Arts Council between 1998-2004, curating two exhibitions on Canadian achievements in science in 1996 and 1997. She was voted elective member of the American Ornithologists' Union 1996, having joined in 1972 and having been a centennial committee member from 1982-1983.
In 2004, Ainley moved to Victoria where she became an adjunct professor of Women's Studies at the University of Victoria. In 2005, she received professor emeritus status from the University of Northern British Columbia and joined Studio Madrona, an artist group, with whom she exhibited work in Goward House in Victoria in 2005.
On September 26, 2008, Ainley passed away after a battle with cancer.