Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Antiquity

MARILYN OGILVIE

Since cultures are not homogeneous, it is impossible to generalize about the contributions of women in science, technology, and medicine in antiquity. However, some cultures and chronological periods were more friendly than others to the activities of women in the scientific enterprise. Although women are seldom mentioned as engaging in scientific work, it is possible to select representative protoscientific or scientific cultures and describe how the rare woman whose name is mentioned fits into the contemporary scientific enterprise. However, the apparent absence of women scientists in a specific culture does not necessarily mean that women did not engage in scientific activities. Because of the paucity of reliable sources, it is almost impossible to ensure that information about early science is trustworthy. The material that is available suggests that there are two ways by which we can learn about the contributions of women to the scientific endeavor in antiquity, neither of which is totally satisfactory. The first includes contextual extrapolation from what is known, or assumed, about the social and cultural milieu in which a person or event exists. The second involves fragmentary descriptions of events or people in classical sources of different genres. An additional caveat should be mentioned. Many accounts of women in antiquity can be traced to a single secondary source, and all subsequent secondary accounts are based on the earliest account.

The societies of Mesopotamia and Egypt illustrate the contextual approach. Both produced two tools of science: writing and mathematics, developed as responses to specific practical problems. Although direct evidence is lacking, the social structure of Mesopotamia was such that the participation of women in these activities was unlikely. The great legal code of Hammurabi (fl. 1792– 1750 BC) pronounced a girl the legal property of her father until sold to her husband—hardly a hospitable situation for encouraging a woman to produce science. A different situation existed in Egypt where women traditionally owned property, and it was the mother’s name that was listed in genealogies. Even after the Semitic influence of the 19th Dynasty strengthened patriarchal societal

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Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chronological Section- Changes in Myths of Gender over Time 1
  • Antiquity 3
  • Medieval Era 17
  • Renaissance 31
  • The 18th Century 43
  • The 19th Century 61
  • Early 20th Century 79
  • Thematic Section- Concepts of Gender in Different Contexts 93
  • Disciplines - Chemistry 95
  • Physics/Astronomy 103
  • Mathematics 109
  • Computer Science 115
  • Biology 123
  • Psychology 129
  • Medicine 135
  • Technology 141
  • Aspects of Human Biology and Behavior - The Brain 149
  • Cognitive Abilities 155
  • Mental Illness 161
  • Personality/Rationality/Emotionality 167
  • Endocrinology and Hormones 173
  • Menstruation/Menopause/PMS 177
  • Early Modern Health 181
  • Gender/Sex—How Conjoined 187
  • Homosexuality 193
  • Race 201
  • Nature/Nurture 207
  • Institutions - Women’s Education 213
  • Motherhood 223
  • Religion 229
  • Universities 235
  • Federal Agencies 249
  • Industry 259
  • Professional Societies 263
  • Discrimination 273
  • Women Scientists as Leaders 283
  • Nobel Laureates 295
  • Gender and Occupational Interests 319
  • Other Perspectives on Gender and Myths and Beliefs in Scientific Research - Feminist Philosophy of Science 325
  • Biologists Who Study Gender/Feminism 337
  • Historians of Science and Technology Who Focus on Feminism 347
  • Primatologists Who Focus on Females/Gender 357
  • Critiques of Science 365
  • Marxism/Socialism and Feminism/Gender 373
  • Ecofeminism 381
  • Cyberfeminism 387
  • Race, Postcolonial Gender, and Science 393
  • Feminist Science Studies 399
  • Women’s Health Movement 405
  • Science Fiction 419
  • Conclusion 427
  • Appendix of- Statistical Tables 437
  • Glossary 445
  • Bibliography 469
  • Index 481
  • About the Editor 501
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