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Women contribute to the beginnings of modern science Essay

The scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries saw a surge of women into the field of science. However, women were not allowed to attend universities and because, of this women had to obtain education informally the best way they could. European noblemen were free to pursue an interest in science as a hobby; but on the other hand noblewomen had to take part in the informal scientific networks of only their fathers and brothers.

During the 17th century Margaret Cavendish took part in some of the most important scientific debates of that time. She wrote a number of works on scientific matter, including Observation upon Experimental Philosophy and Grounds of Natural Philosophy. As an aristocrat, Cavendish was a good example for the women in France and England who worked in science.

Maria Winkelmann was one of Germanys most famous female astronomers. Between 1650 and 1710, women made up 14% of all German astronomers. Winkelmann was educated by her father and uncle receiving informal training from a close, self taught astronomer. She married Gottfried Kirch, Prussias foremost astronomer which opened the doors for her to become an astronomer as well. She became her husbands assistant at the astronomical observatory in Berlin at the Academy of Science. During her time as her husbands assistant she made many original contributions, including the discovery of a comet. When her husband died she applied to be the assistant astronomer at the Academy, but because she didnt have a formal education and a degree she was denied, even though she was more then qualified for the job.

During this time period women faced huge obstacles being accepted in the scientific world. Women were never invited to neither the Royal Society of England nor the French Academy of Sciences until the twentieth century.

Men of this time era believed that a womens job was only domestic. It was taboo and not accepted in society for women to do anything else. Thats one of the reasons why women werent allowed to attend universities and had to have informal training if they wanted to do anything outside being a home maker.

Overall, the Scientific Revolution did little to change peoples ideas about the nature of women. Male scientist used the new science to spread the view that women were inferior and subordinated to men and suited to only playing the role as domestic homemakers. During this period women were oppressed but, a new day was about to arrive in the 18th Centuryworks citedSpeigl, Western Civ, vol 2


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