Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Women in Science

I wanted to acknowledge my fellow women in science. Here are a few of the very first women who have made significant contributions to science. I hope that you will support and acknowledge their contributions to science (perhaps you can take a moment to look at their blogs, as well!) Margaret Cavendish and Maria Merian are a bit older than I am; hence, they set precedents for women in science (and I set others!).

Margaret Cavendish

Margaret received an education similar to the way I received mine; women were not accepted in places such as the Royal Academy of Sciences. Thus, our education was primarily informal, and required more of an effort and interest on our part. Margaret, like myself, was denied the opportunity to participate in the scientific circles of men (for her, it was the Royal Society). Despite this, she published several scientific articles (including, inter alia, Observations upon Experimental Philosopher, Grounds of Natural Philosophy). While Margaret did not necessarily make any scientific discoveries, she was very critical of the state of science and objected to fallacies of empiricism and objectivity in her publications. She postulated, "we have no power at all over natural causes and effects...for man is but a small part...His powers are but particular actions of Nature, and he cannot have a supreme and absolute power." This quotation demonstrates Margaret's quintessential argument against the scientific thinkers of our time. With the advent of science, discovery, and technology, humans are increasingly becoming more arrogant about their "natural" position in the world; Margaret employs science to demonstrate and argue that humans need to realize the minute and insignificant nature of human action and discovery.

Here's a picture of dear Margaret:

Maria Merian

Maria, like Margaret and myself, received informal training from her father. As an illustrator, she established quite a reputation as a respected entomologist. She primarily studied insects, plants, and their interactions with each other; however, her studies acquired a reputation because of her detailed illustrations. Her seminal scientific publication, the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, was produced subsequent to her expedition to Surinam in order to pursue further studies in insect and plant life.

Here's a picture of Maria:

1 comment:

  1. my friend, maria. how honored i am to be featured in your post! i am glad that at least someone feels my contributions to the scientific world are just as important as the male scientists who continually look down upon me. i am also very honored that i have set up opportunites for future women scientists. i am sorry to hear that you were also rejected into the royal academy of sciences. but do not worry, i was met with the same fate and i am doing better than ever! i just hope that our contributions will be more widely accepted in the future.
    -margaret cavendish