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

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Physics/Astronomy

BARBARA L. WHITTEN


Physics

Anyone who looks at the history of science sees that there have always been women in science, no matter how high the barriers they faced. Physics began as a distinct discipline with the publication of Newton’s Principia Mathematicain 1686. Émilie du Châtelet (1706–1749) made the first French translation of this central work and helped to reconcile Newton’s and Leibniz’s versions of mechanics. The only woman scientist many people know about is physicist Marie Curie, the discoverer of radium and first scientist to win the Nobel Prize twice. Two other women physicists have also won the Nobel Prize: Irène Joliot-Curie, Marie’s daughter, for synthesizing new radioactive elements, and Maria Goeppert Mayer, for inventing the shell model of the nucleus. Many believe that two other women physicists should have been Nobel Laureates: Lise Meitner, co-discoverer of nuclear fission, and Chien-Shiung Wu, who performed the difficult experiment to show parity nonconservation. The Web site “Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics” (http://cwp.library .ucla.edu/) describes the work of many other eminent women.

But despite this wealth of role models, physics remains a male-dominated field. In an early study of women in science and engineering, Stephen Brush called physics “the coldest science” for women (Brush 1991). Figure 1 shows that physics lags significantly behind the other sciences in participation by women. In the last 30 years many physicists have made significant efforts to increase the diversity of the physics community, and the participation by women in physics has increased sharply. The percentage of women in receiving Ph.D.s in physics rose from 3 percent in 1972 to 18 percent in 2003. Essentially all of these women are white; the participation of women of color in physics is vanishingly small. From 1997 to 2003, an average of fewer than three Hispanic women and African American women earned Ph.D.s in physics each year (Ivie and Ray 2005).

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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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