Role Of Women In The Scientific Revolution

1420 words - 6 pages

When most people think of the Scientific Revolution, they think of Galileo, Newton, 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. In fact, all of the scientists listed above had a woman playing an influential role in their research. However, women were not limited to assisting men in their studies; 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 this.
During the Scientific Revolution, some women performed research and experimentation of their own. These women were ...view middle of the document...

In the Court of Learning, Christina had the opportunity to learn from many great minds, including Rene Descartes. Christina showed great interest in many of the subjects, but especially theology, astrology, philosophy, and alchemy. However, after Descartes died, the Court of Learning collapsed, and Christina decided to leave Sweden. (Woods) She moved to Rome, having recently converted to Catholicism, and lived in Palazzo Riario. She assembled the Roman Accademia Reale, similar to the Swedish Court of Learning, and spent the next several years studying alchemy. Giovanni Domenico Cassini, one of the scientists invited to the Accademia Reale, encouraged Christina to construct an observatory for the academy. In this observatory, Halley’s Comet was observed in 1682. After its discovery, Christina offered a prize to whoever could develop the equation for the path of the comet. In addition, observations made at the observatory influenced Newton’s Principia. (Cook)
Another woman, Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, or Emilie du Chatelet, also directly performed research, especially in the areas of physics and philosophy. Emilie was born into French nobility, so she received formal education as a child. (DiGrado) Very early in her schooling, her parents and teachers began to see her as a genius. Her parents began to hire the best tutors in France to teach Emilie. (Ozmore) By the time she was twelve, she could fluently speak seven different languages (Cook). Fluency in several languages was not uncommon for women, but unlike most women of the time, though, Emilie was primarily interested in philosophy and mathematics (Ozmore). She tried to attend several universities, but all of them rejected her because she was a woman. This did not stop her from continuing her education; she instead hired multiple tutors in science, philosophy, and mathematics. (DiGrado) In 1725, Emilie married Marquis Florent-Claude Chastellet. Even after her marriage, she still continued her studies in science. (O'Connor and Robertson, Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil Marquise du Châtelet) While Emilie was studying, she would attend and participate in debates at coffeehouses. She was eventually banned from the majority of coffeehouses for her “disgraceful behavior”. However, she did not allow this to stop her; she dressed as a man to be allowed to continue to participate in the discussions. (Cook) All of the scientists recognized her even in disguise, but enjoyed her debates and ideas so much they did not reveal her identity. (DiGrado) As Emilie studied, she took a particular interest in philosophy and physics. She began performing experiments in physics, and published works on both topics. (Cook) Her most famous work is Institution de physique, or Lessons on Physics (Ozmore). It should be noted that Emilie did not publish this work under her own name, but One of Emilie’s former tutors, Samuel Koenig, claimed that the work was his own,...

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