When most people think of the Scientific Revolution, they think of scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Brahe, and Boyle. However, many people do not even know about the many women who played a vital role in the scientific advancements of this period. Even when these women were alive, most of society either ignored them or publicly disapproved their unladylike behavior. Because of this, these women were often forgotten from history, and very little is known about the majority of them. Although their names rarely appear in history books, the female scientists of the Scientific Revolution still impacted the world of science in several ways. In fact, all of the scientists listed above had a woman playing an influential role assisting them in their research. However, assisting men in their studies was not the only role open to women; several women performed experimentation and research on their own, or advancing science in some other way, even though the society of the time looked down upon and even resisted their studies.
During the Scientific Revolution, some women performed research and experimentation of their own. These women were all upper class, because they had the access to education and science, but they also faced the most opposition from society. The doctors and medical professionals of the time said of these women that any learning, and even knowing how to read, would damage their ovaries (Barnett and Sabattini). Carl Friedrich Gauss, a French mathematician, said of women in science:
But when a person of the [female] sex, which according to our customs and prejudices, must encounter infinitely more difficulties than men to familiarize herself with these thorny researches, succeeds nevertheless in surmounting these obstacles and penetrating the most obscure parts of them, then without doubt she must have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and a superior genius. (Osen)
Some women in this position include Queen Christina of Sweden, Emilie du Chatelet, Maria Sibylla Merian, Margaret Cavendish, and Catherine de Medicis.
Queen Christina of Sweden was born on December 8, 1626 in Stockholm, Sweden. All her life, Christina enjoyed “masculine” activities such as hunting and sports, and had a love for learning. It was written about her, "She was naught of a child except in age and naught of a woman except in sex" (Trueman, Queen Christina of Sweden). She became queen at age six, after her father died, and was crowned at age eighteen. After three years on the throne, she was offered a choice to give away her power to a man or marry, and she chose the former option. (Woods) This decision showed all of Europe that her desire to gain knowledge held the most importance in her life (Cook). She appointed Charles Gustavus to the throne, and spent the next several years inviting scientists, artists, musicians, and philosophers to Sweden, and assembled from them the Court of Learning. In the Court of Learning, Christina had...