Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Banned. Why? Because I'm a Woman

As I promised in the last post, I will explain why I was unable to continue my academic study of astronomy in the way that I did antecedent to Gottfried's death. When a woman's husband dies, she becomes responsible for his trade, work, life, et cetera. In a way, she replaces him and ensures that the means by which he contributed to society does not stop with his death. With an understanding of this de facto system within society, I assumed that I would replace my husband's role as calendar maker for the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin, subsequent to Gottfried's death. However, because I am a woman, I was unable to do so. If they had allowed me to have a place in the Royal Academy of Sciences, it would have established a precedent for other women to do the same, as well. They feared this possibility of women entering the masculine institution of science; thus, they obstinately denied my admission as an employee of scientific academia.

Dear old Leibniz (Gottfried von Leibniz, President of the Royal Academy of Sciences) adored me and adamantly attempted to make me a part of the institution. He even gave me this wonderful opportunity to present my knowledge of sunspots to the royal court in Prussia. But still, this was not enough. These men were terrified of women entering their domain; so, they gave me a medal and no job. As I mentioned in my previous post, I don't care for recognition; I simply want the opportunity to do what I love. I was never bitter about the fact that I did not receive acknowledgement for the work I did (i.e. discovering Comet 1720), but I am most definitely disappointed in the fact that I was robbed of the opportunity to do what I love.

I will explain the ideology and reasoning behind this decision to ban my participation in the Royal Academy of Sciences in a later post. Stay Tuned!

Here is a picture of Leibniz:

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