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Science and Femininity In the 17th and 18th centuries, some women began to undertake the sciences.

Although not usually held in high esteem, these women still contributed to scientific advancements of the day. There were many differing positions and reactions towards womens participation in the field during the Scientific Revolution of the Enlightenment. Men had many different stances on womens entry into a field previously never occupied by one other than a male. However, predictably, most impressions were negative. Johann Eberti described Marie Cunitz, a German astronomer, as being so deeply engaged in astronomical speculation that she neglected her household. (Doc. 1) He attributed this to tiring herself from studying the stars at night. This response showed Johanns disapproval of Maries abandonment of her household duties. Less subtle in his distaste at female participation in science was Samuel Pepys, an English diarist. He states [Maries] dress [is] so antique and her deportment so ordinary, that I do not like her at all, nor did I hear her say anything that was worth hearing. (Doc. 3) His first point, him not liking her at all due to her appearance and conduct, showed an expectation for women to be decorative and on display at all times, and such an expectation carries with it an implication that they not concern themselves with subject matters of a higher order. His second point exhibits a pompousness that presumes men are invariably smarter than women. Furthermore, Johann Theodor Jablonski noted that his employer, the Berlin Academy of Sciences, was being ridiculed because their calendar was designed by a woman (Doc. 8). Further still, Johann Junker questioned legality of such an undertaking, referring to the acceptance of a woman into a

university (Doc. 10). Women have been prejudiced in nearly every possible way in the way of science, because of the prevailing attitude towards them has been primarily not intellectual. The expectance of women to mindlessly present themselves was so overwhelming, the reaction towards womens entry into the world of science was predominantly forbidding. Although most reactions towards women in the sciences were negative, some were positive. Document four depicts Johannes and his wife working together on an astronomical venture. This painting, painted in 1673, showed that women were at least seen as able to help with a mans scientific undertakings, if not able to do it themselves. Gottfried Kirch documented that his wife noticed a comet in the sky, while he had not observed it the night before (Doc. 6). The fact that this was put into words and credit given to the wife demonstrated a attitude of respect for womens achievements, should they be legit. Also, Kirchs reaction was not one of surprise at his wife finding the comet, but rather surprise at himself for not noticing the comet before. The reinforces the attitude of respect given to women where credited. Document seven demonstrated a straight-on eulogization of women, where Gottfried Leinbniz writes Women [] are more detached and therefore more capable of contemplating the good and the beautiful. This, even though it pointed to womens 17th century position in society as being the reason for their scientific excellence, showed women to be thought of as potentially excellent scientists. Document thirteen exhibited Dorothea Schlozer as a woman who clearly fits into the role of a woman given to her by society. However, it also proclaimed her as being a scholar inside. This profound article demonstrated a woman

could be a scholar at heart, practice science, yet still maintain a womans life. These positive reactions and positions toward women in the scientific community show womans progress in their quest for scientific recognition. Women themselves had conflicting opinions over their newfound status as potential scientists. Marie Meurdrac in document two states that if the minds of women were cultivated like those of men, they would be equal to the minds of the latter. This displays womens hopes for future equality between the sexes. However, Dorothea Erxleben from Germany stated Many of my own sex will think I place myself above them. (Doc. 9), aptly predicting some womens arguments against female scientists. Document twelve exhibits such a protest, where Marie Thiroux dArconville states Women should not study medicine and astronomy. [] Women should [] not extend their empire to include medicine and astronomy. Such sexist comments significantly hindered womens standing in the scientific community, and such a reaction by a learned women could only be viewed upon as bitter and spiteful. Women had to sacrifice a great many things for knowledge. Maria Sibylla Merian, a German entomologist, said herself she had to withdraw from human society to pursue her passion for insects (Doc. 5). Document ten also shows how a woman sacrificed a great deal of her life for science, having only four to five hours of sleep a night and working nearly constantly. Such facts are regrettable but perhaps unavoidable due to the stance on womens intelligence during the time period. Women had a great deal of trouble trying for scientific recognition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They had to plow though every negative position on womens intelligence and every prejudice regarding their scientific prowess. Also,

they had to manage negative responses to their uprising. However, having navigated these treacherous waters, they emerged successful, with many significant female scientists contributing to the great institution that is science.