22 Dec 2022


The Role Women Played In the Scientific Revolution in the 18 th Century

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Women have always been part of the science revolution ever since the ancient times. Additionally, they are also observed as making great strides when it comes to scientific endeavors. In other words, they have faced hurdles in ensuring that they make themselves recognized in the scientific world (Spielvogel, 2014) . Moreover, their effective role when it comes to science commenced expanding when women started working to ensure that the needs and demands of their families are met financially. Therefore, the enlightenment can be argued to be an era of communication, knowledge, and growth which played a crucial role in recognition of women in the science world.

During the 18 th century, it is universally acknowledged that women reacted efficiently and positively contributed with their skills, knowledge, and capabilities to actively work in favor of the famous Humanistic and Renaissance period (Spielvogel, 2014) .Simultaneously; they also tried to engage themselves in the things and activities that helped improve the growth and development of the scientific field. When the new scientific discoveries started appearing within the ending years of the 17 th century and early 18 th century, it was clear that most women ended up being motivated with the new scientific discoveries. As a result, those women who were gifted with the scientific knowledge commenced formulating new ideas while at the same time; they also formulated new theoretical frameworks in regards to nature. They not only performed their research and experiments but they also succeeded in making their theories published in the market (Spielvogel, 2014) . 

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It had been accepted that within Europe and America, most women had developed an interest in science. In fact, the women scientists of this time used to assess and study the theories and researches of the male scientists who existed during this time and in the process, they ended up establishing their practical applications using new knowledge from already existing theories (Wilson, 2014) . In other words, the scientific fields that interested women during this time were Natural History, Physical Geography, Chemistry, Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics, and Botany. As a result, those who were interested in this scientific field were acknowledged as naturalists during this century and some few more centuries that followed (Wilson, 2014) . Nevertheless, information as far as the contribution of the women scientists during the 18 th century is somehow scarce but some of them possess some biographies written about them in regards to their achievement scientifically. For instance, the first scientific discovery by a woman in the field of medicine was based on the discovery of the medicinal properties of the quinine bark and was named Countess of Cinchon; Ana de Osorio (Wilson, 2014) . She was one of the famous scientists during the years 1599-1625 when she was successful in curing malaria using her own theoretical framework (Spielvogel, 2014) . After her breakthrough, her theory was made even more complete by Walter Reed an American army general. The Army General discovered quinine that went down in the history book as one of the most palliative measures for malaria cure. In simple terms, suitable awareness as far as women scientists were concerned continued for quite some time and appeared to be classified as those persistent thoughts that were borrowed from the scientists who existed during the ancient times. 

Maria Sibylla 1647-1717 was one of the most gifted naturalists during the 18 th and the 17 th century but most people remember her as an artist and not as a scientist (Wilson, 2014) . Additionally, when she was young, she accompanied her dad to collect scientific specimens. As a result, she was able to publish completed collections of the engravings of insects and flowers found in Europe. However, there was much more to it than just artistic gravings since she ended up painting caterpillars at every development stage hence making her one of the finest naturalists to ever grace the planet. Another woman who made headlines in science during the 18 th century was Emilie Du Chatelet (Spielvogel, 2014). She was a French noble woman who was acknowledged as the most erudite of the scientists of her gender. She spoke seven languages clearly by the age of twelve. Besides, she was able to read very fast and in the process, required little sleep hence making so many people classify her as a polygot. Because of this, she was acknowledged as a mathematician and a physicist in Paris most especially when she was able to interpret and translate some of the theoretical frameworks of Sir Isaac Newton and while at the same time, replicating some of the experiments Newton performed. 

The Role of Women in Science Now 

In the modern world, it is accepted that women are playing a crucial role in the development of science but there are still a few challenges here and there that are limiting the impact of women in this field (Wilson, 2014). In other words, this supports the argument that has existed for quite some time that there is a gender gap in regards to earnings in science. As much as women have had a primary role in the growth of science since the 18 th century, very little was accorded to the key role they played not until the 20 th century (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014) . For instance, the first award of recognition was accorded to Marie Curie for her discovery in the chemistry of radium and polodium. In so doing, one clear thing here is that this award represented the ultimate global and international recognition of women in science. However, the modern world has been a field with barriers and events that are trying to narrow down the impending gap between the male and women scientists in the science world (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014) . Although Curie did not recruit so many women scientists during her hay days, it can be argued that like in the modern era, important progress was made by each and every succeeding generation. 

Along the way, women have been facing a number of hurdles including the World War 2 when most women were being recruited into male dominated positions. However, the generations that followed were elevated by the Feminist Movement which made so many women scientists be accepted in the society (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014) . As a result, so many women have been accepted into the society and most of them play a very important role in the society since they have ended up taking more prominent positions in Sciences and Arts. For instance, in the year 2009, the art world witnessed the appointment of Carol-Ann as the first woman in UK poet laureate. In fact, this was also followed by the appointment of the Greenfield Baroness as the Royal Institutions’ director (Dasgupta & Stout, 2014) . In simple terms, in spite of the fact that hurdles and barriers remain even in the recent times, there is a growing number of women into science and the mood in the science world seems to favor them as well. 


The enlightenment is seen to be an era of communication, knowledge, and growth which played a crucial role in recognition of women in the science world. During the Scientific revolutionary era, one thing for sure is that those women that were aristocratic were in a position to write and study while at the same time taking care of their children and lovers. In other words, those women that were intelligent had an option of either choosing marriage or gaining knowledge that ended up giving them a career. However, life afforded to the women scholars did not go down well with the demanding nature of the family. In fact, even to the most brilliant women who even had the support of their families, always incurred challenges with the traditional norms and values associated with the role of women in the society. Therefore, it is because of the changing nature of the community that women have started expanding their roots and performing major roles in the society hence prompting improvement in their scientific involvement. 


Wilson, K. (2014). The island race: Englishness, empire, and gender in the eighteenth century . Routledge. 

Spielvogel, J. J. (2014). Western civilization . Cengage Learning. 

Dasgupta, N., & Stout, J. G. (2014). Girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: STEMing the tide and broadening participation in STEM careers. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 1 (1), 21-29. 

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