Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women’s Day on March 8, and during October in Canada, corresponding with the celebration of Persons Day on October 18.

For this first Theme Thursday in March, we consider the contributions of women to the Scientific Revolution. The scientific revolution is a concept used by historians to describe the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed the views of society about nature. The scientific revolution took place in Europe towards the end of the Renaissance period and continued through the late 18th century, influencing the intellectual social movement known as the Enlightenment.

Some well known contributions to the Scientific Revolution by women include the works of

Margaret Cavendish

Maria Winkelmann

Maria Sibylla Merian

Unfortunately, the Scientific Revolution did little to change people’s ideas about the nature of women – more specifically – their capacity to contribute to science just as men do. According to Jackson Spielvogel, “Male scientists used the new science to spread the view that women were by nature inferior and subordinate to men and suited to play a domestic role as nurturing mothers. The widespread distribution of books ensured the continuation of these ideas.” We use spaces like these to combat those preconceptions. What have you learned about someone’s contributions that were usurped by a more dominant social group?

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