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Women and Science


About the author: Raven is an author of numerous essays which she wrote in cooperation with the https://great-essays.com/ writing service, where you may also find a lot of informative essays concerning different topics.

The development of the science is usually associated with such scholars as Newton and Galileo, while the role of women has been underestimated and even forgotten for a long time through the history. Many such prominent females as, for example, Emilie du Chatelet, who contributed greatly to science with her studies in physics and mathematics, remained unacknowledged. Only the era of Scientific Revolution opened the doors for women into the world of science, which was previously occupied solely by men. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to discuss the role women played in the Scientific Revolution of 18th century, and how females are connected to the science today.

It is important to mention that beginning from the 16th century up to the 18th century and Scientific Revolution, the world faced a massive flow of women who had the skills and the knowledge that had added major value to the sciences people study and use today. Thus, due to the challenges of the society that viewed females mainly as housewives, their education that usually informal. European elite had more opportunities to pursue their interests, while influential father and brothers could help one another in denying their daughters and sisters academic development.

Before the Industrial Revolution, the major mission in life of every woman was to marry and bring up children. Wives had to obey to their husbands and had not many rights and opportunities to voice their opinions, and this clich? was rooting deeply during many centuries. Thus, the time has passed and women started to get education and, finally, the Scientific Revolution twisted the perception of how the world actually ‘worked’. It was a period of new thinking and people could not understand how mathematics and science could be the explanation to all physical processes.

It is important to mention that women were not recognized as a part of the scientific community and even were not legally allowed to join the Royal Society (a society for science in Great Britain); they received this opportunity only almost 300 years later. The Royal Society turned out to be a very important institution that included such scholars, as Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, Thomas Hobbes, Robert Hooke, and Christopher Wren, but lacked females among its members. The United Kingdom of that time ridiculed the idea of women participating in scientific debates, while it was just a misconception of that time, according to which, the brain of a female was unable to cope with mathematical concepts and laboratory procedures. Thus, despite the inability to join the scientific communities, women started to think whether the mentioned institution was useful for the society. The major problem rooted in the education level of females. Consequently, those who were rich started to look into better possibilities to study something more than just how to do the households, while those who were poor did not have any opportunity to get the lessons.

However, despite the reign of males within the scientific society of that time, two prominent females started their struggle in order to become recognized scholars and prove that they were talented and smart. Maria Sibylla Merian was born in Germany in 1647. She had to struggle in order to support her family as her father abandoned them, but, despite difficult situation, she managed to get the education. Sophie Germain was born in a rich French family and showed much interest in mathematics, which was not supported by her dad. Thus, the girl was very persistent in her studies of mathematics, which eventually made her parent to allow her to get the proper education in that area. The two women had different educational and social background, but due to her aristocratic origin and connections, Sophie Germain managed to introduced her scientific mathematical works to the professor in the university that was beyond reach for females. The professor was so impressed that he eventually became her mentor and she continued her studies in mathematics. Merian, in her turn, studied insects and arts of that time and she managed to get her works published right after she got married. The New Book of Flower included many illustrations and Maria Sibylla provided exact description of every insect including their stages of growth as well as explanations and other vital living characteristics. She disproved the common belief regarding the caterpillars and butterflies, which led to a start of the science known as entomology and erased the common attitude that ‘insects were creatures of the devil’. Germain was never married, but she was supported by her father. She managed to introduce her works to the world of mathematicians and gave a start to the ‘more applied mathematics’. Germain was the only one who provided the entry to the scientific visualization of the study of Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni, but it was rejected due to the prejudices. Only after the third try, she managed to break through and won the contest. Germain was trying to prove Fermat's Last Theorem during her mathematical career, but her gender was always a major milestone for her that created challenges, hinders and disapproval from the side of the scientific society ruled by men only. The scientist believed that she had found a solution to the mentioned theorem. However, she needed to conduct discussions with other mathematicians for further progress and this made her to take a man’s name in order to be taken seriously by other scientists. Thank to this, Germain managed to state several different equations. Her work on the theorem is considered one of the biggest contributions to the mathematics of that time. However, Germain was never recognized for that and had to continue signing her works with the pseudonym Monsieur le Blanc.

Nevertheless, the social conditions of the 18th century were more favorable to women, which gave them additional opportunities to expand their roles in science. The spur to that was the establishment of salon, where representatives of both genders met and had discussions over such topics as politics, science and sociology. Due to the involvement in such meetings and possibility to get education, females began to play a very important role during the Enlightenment period and the first woman who was introduced to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science was Eva Ekeblad. She discovered that alcohol and flour can be made out of potatoes and developed methods of cotton bleaching.

The interesting fact is that the majority of the experiments that women conducted and majority of their discoveries were done in home conditions, as females were mainly assisting their husbands and had not much opportunities to visit laboratories. The one of the most famous assistants was Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, whose husband Antoine Lavoisier discovered oxygen. She did all the proper translations and illustration to his researches. The world's first female professor was Laura Bassi, who was the third woman to obtain doctorate and was specialist in physics. Margaret Cavendish was the first British woman who contributed to the science through writing extensively about philosophy and science, while Caroline Herschel discovered the eight comets.

The times have changed and modern society has started to treat women and men equally. Other prominent female scientists include Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson, Rachel Carson, Maria Klawe, Lydia Villa-Komaroff, Sally Ride and many others who fly to the Moon, introduce major development in the programming languages and make significant breakthroughs in marine biology and environments. Thus, the certain percentage of bias still exists and this can be seen in the official data that demonstrates that there are more men than women working in the scientific arena. Moreover, females are still treated with prejudice. This was proved with the investigations conducted by private scholars which reviewed the scientific feedbacks. It revealed that women tend to get less positive feedbacks if the paper is signed by their real female names.

In conclusion, it is important to mention that during the Scientific Revolution in the 18th century women wanted to work in science and managed to find any way possible in order to get knowledge and education. Females contributed to the development of science equally as men did, but they were not recognized for that. Moreover, besides of the struggle to get the education and access to proper facilities, their brilliant works were disregarded very often due to prejudice and intolerance towards women. Many of them had to marry proper men who supported their hobbies, but some of them had to struggle and adopt man’s names in order to introduce their, often major breakthroughs, to the society. The role of the women in science is equally important today, but not all bias has been eliminated. Still, no one can argue now that such important scientists as Germain and Merian have not contributed much. It is important to make sure that women are not denied entering the world of science on the equal rights as men do, as they have proved to be able to make the great discoveries. In addition to that, females have strength and fortitude not to give up even if the whole world of men is turning against them. The major conclusion is that women have played a very important role in the Scientific Revolution of the 18th century, which means that people would not be where they are today without their contribution.


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About ravencooperone of us since 8:42 AM on 07.22.2019