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The Role of Women in Science Essay

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Updated: Apr 20th, 2021

The two works in question dwell upon the role of women in science but the authors focus on different aspects of the issue. Thus, Londa Schiebinger concentrates on the way animals were categorized and how it affected the distribution of the roles in society. At the same time, Sarah Hutton explores the role women played in science in the eighteenth century. Both authors examine the way females were seen in society and they conclude that women were thought to be responsible for households and had no right to actively participate in any sphere of social life.

The two writings are also quite different in regards to their narratives. Hutton stresses that the world was patriarchal and there was even a great deal of misogyny (18). The author notes that women were interested in science and were eager to participate in scientific discourses but male dominance prevented them from entering the world (as well as the history) of science. In the eighteenth century, women were also deprived of their right to obtain an education, especially in science.

Though, the author provides a variety of examples when women participated in scientific life (Hutton 21). Nonetheless, the history of science has little information on that matter as women were assigned a different role. They were to focus on household activities and leave social life to men.

Though Schiebinger shares the same view on the role of women in the society of the eighteenth century (or women who lived before the twentieth century), the author claims that females have always been integrated into people’s mindsets. The author argues that even scientists were ready to accept the significant role of the woman in the history of humanity. Thus, Linnaeus chose a category that is a characteristic feature of the female (Schiebinger 2).

Unlike Hutton, Schlesinger notes that females were regarded as important creatures who nurtured the whole world. At the same time, this almost divine role of the woman led to a reverse effect as men started promulgating ideas of the woman as a nurturer and a keeper of the hearth. In other words, women became responsible for households only and their role as the nurturer of humanity was forgotten.

As has been mentioned above, these two authors focus on the role of women in social life. However, the articles shed light on different aspects and use a different approach. Schiebinger’s ideas are quite interesting and can be considered in detail but they seem far-fetched as a great deal of the articles focuses on the choice of a word for mammals. The author tries to prove that the choice was not spontaneous and was defined by the trends which existed at that time.

Even though it is impossible to ignore the fact that women were perpetuated and cherished as nurturers of the entire humanity, this had little to do with the choice of the word. It is more likely that the scientist decided to focus on the most significant feature. Furthermore, the image of the nurturer also had contributed to the way women were treated later (they were assigned the role of a household keeper). However, this was only one of the factors which led to this distribution of roles in society.

The approach used by Hutton seems more reliable and accurate. The author does not try to interpret events or trends. The researcher simply considers the way women participated in the scientific life of society and the way this participation was highlighted in the history of science and literature. It is noteworthy that the author remains on the safe side and uses particular works and facts during her analysis. Notably, Hutton only highlights the way women tried to participate in social life, and males tried to diminish this participation.

It is noteworthy that the authors come to a similar conclusion and stress that women had to end up enclosed in their households. At the same time, Hutton is more optimistic (or realistic) and states that women never ceased to strive for the scientific sphere. Schiebinger argues that the image of the nurturer made women strive for household duties and the idea of motherhood. Nonetheless, numerous female scientists, writers, and public activists can be regarded as examples of women’s aspirations and desire to participate in social life. Hutton’s views may not be influential (as it can be lost in the ocean of the same ideas and works) or innovative but it is accurate and reflects trends which have existed in the society throughout centuries.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that the two works have their right to exist and require attention as they highlight different aspects of a very important issue. They provide insights into women’s struggle for their right to contribute to the development of humanity.

Works Cited

Hutton, Sarah. “Before Frankenstein.” The New Science and Women’s Literary Discourse: Prefiguring Frankenstein. Ed. Judy A. Hayden. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011. 17-28. Print.

Schiebinger, Londa. . n.d. Web.

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