Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States

By Linda Eisenmann | Go to book overview

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science education. Increased attention since the 1970s to women's low participation in science obscures the fact that women and girls have pursued science education in significant numbers since the nineteenth century. Recent studies find that more girls than boys studied science at nineteenth-century academies* and that nearly 30 percent of doctorates earned by women prior to 1900 were the sciences. Yet, unquestionably, women's interest in science over the past century has not always produced careers equal to either their talent or their educational attainment. In 1992, for example, women constituted 45 percent of all workers in the United States but only 16 percent of all employed scientists or engineers.

Both historians and contemporary analysts point to problems in, first, the educational process and, then, career building that discourage girls' and women's equal participation with men in science. Historians find a systematic exclusion of women from graduate education* and career opportunities that would have allowed full development of tiieir scientific inclinations. Since the 1960s women's movement, contemporary advocates for women have focused on a range of environmental, sociocultural, and personal factors that inhibit participation in science by girls and women.

Science was frequently an amateur endeavor in the nineteenth century, practiced by many without collegiate training and learned through popular pursuits such as lyceum* lectures, museum visiting, and textbook reading. Women became particularly avid consumers of popular textbooks, and a genre developed of science books written especially for female readers. Originally imported from England, books like Jane Marcet's Conversations on Chemistry (1806) and Conversations on Natural Philosophy (1819) provided considerable informal scientific education to curious young women.

Before common schools* or high schools* were widespread in the United States, academies and female seminaries* constituted the most frequent school-

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Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • A 1
  • B 29
  • C 65
  • D 111
  • E 136
  • F 146
  • G 163
  • H 188
  • I 217
  • J 225
  • K 229
  • L 232
  • M 256
  • N 287
  • O 312
  • P 317
  • Q 331
  • R 336
  • S 349
  • T 408
  • U 443
  • V 446
  • W 456
  • Y 494
  • Appendix: Timeline of Women's Educational History in the United States 503
  • Selected Bibliography 507
  • Index 511
  • About the Editor and Contributors 525
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