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The Bold and the Brave

A History of Women in Science and Engineering

Monique Frize

Publication Year: 2010

The Bold and the Brave investigates how women have striven throughout history to gain access to education and careers in science and engineering. Author Monique Frize, herself an engineer for over 40 years, introduces the reader to key concepts and debates that contextualize the obstacles women have faced and continue to face in the fields of science and engineering. She focuses on the history of women’s education in mathematics and science through the ages, from antiquity to the Enlightenment. While opportunities for women were often purposely limited, she reveals how many women found ways to explore science outside of formal education. The book examines the lives and work of three women –Sophie Germain, Mileva Einstein, and Rosalind Franklin – that provide excellent examples of how women’s contributions to science have been dismissed, ignored or stolen outright. She concludes with an in-depth look at women’s participation in science and engineering throughout the twentieth century and the current status of women in science and engineering, which has experienced a decline in recent years. To encourage more young women to pursue careers in science and engineering she advocates re-gendering the fields by integrating feminine and masculine approaches that would ultimately improve scientific and engineering endeavours.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Cover Page

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Title Page

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pp. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv


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pp. v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

This book represents, to a large extent, the legacy of the knowledge I acquired and shared while I was the first holder of the Northern Telecom (later Nortel) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC ) chair for...

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pp. xv-xvi

The author wishes to thank several people who have reviewed the manuscript at different stages and made helpful suggestions for improving it. In particular, my thanks go to Peter Frize, my husband of forty years, for his support for my career, his patient reading...

Part I: Views of Women’s Intellectual Abilities

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Chapter 1: From Ancient Times to Early Modern Europe

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pp. 3-19

Through the ages, philosophers, almost all of whom were male, have affected society’s thoughts as well as reflecting them. The discussion begins with one of the most influential philosophers in the western tradition, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (423–347 BCE). Plato’s influence through...

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Chapter 2: Renaissance and Enlightenment

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pp. 21-34

In the early modern era (15th to 18th centuries), a few exceptional men and women argued in favour of women’s abilities and for the provision of universal access to education, and some even fought for women’s right to hold public positions. However, the majority of thinkers continued to...

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Chapter 3: The Classic Arguments and Debates

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pp. 35-51

This chapter explores some of the ways in which particular ideologies were used to support, or to challenge, the prevailing view that women are inferior to men, an argument used to justify the exclusion of women from higher education until only about a hundred years ago...

Part II: Scientific Education of Women from the 17th Century to the 19th Century

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Chapter 4: Women Who Participated in Science in Early Modern Europe

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pp. 55-69

Before we look at the struggle for equality and education, especially in science and mathematics, in early modern Europe, it is useful to examine the culture of science as it developed in the Middle Ages and during the “Scientific Revolution,” leading to modern science as we know it today...

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Chapter 5: Education for Women in the 16th and 17th Centuries

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pp. 71-89

Education in the early modern era was gendered, meaning that boys and girls were provided with vastly different educational opportunities. In her book Better than Rubies: A History of Women’s Education (1978) Phyllis Stock discusses the general link between education and the societal role of women, and...

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Chapter 6: Education for Women in the 18th Century

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pp. 91-105

By the 19th century, the power centre of science shifted once again as the academies and other learned societies became less prominent and were replaced by other types of institutions. However, academies and scientific societies still played a major role in the 18th century and continued to exclude women...

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Chapter 7: School and University Reforms in the 19th Century

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pp. 107-127

The traditional ideas discussed in previous chapters retained their dominance throughout much of the 19th century, notably, that women were, by nature, not fit to study, and might even fall ill or die from the strain of acquiring an education; and that those few women who could benefit from formal...

Part III: Education and Careers in Science and Engineering

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Chapter 8: Women in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science in the 20th Century

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pp. 131-144

In the 20th century, universities were opened up to women in most countries, but their enrolment in science and mathematics courses did not progress on a continuum. Rather, it increased during certain periods and held steady or decreased at other times. The situation has, of course, become...

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Chapter 9: Obstacles to the Entry of Young Women into Science and Engineering

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pp. 145-159

This chapter presents a few of the many myths that still influence attitudes to women’s and men’s abilities, interests, and behaviours, as well as expectations about what careers are appropriate for each sex. It then addresses some of the other obstacles in the way of women’s advancement...

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Chapter 10: Recruitment and Outreach

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pp. 161-175

A variety of successful strategies were developed in the 1980s and 1990s to attract more young women into the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. However, what works with one generation of teenagers may not be as effective with the next...

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Chapter 11: Strategies to Attract and Retain More Women

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pp. 177-195

The focus of this chapter is on engineering, since it tends to have the smallest proportion of women among those studying it. However, most of the strategies that work for engineering would also work for computer science, physics, chemistry, or...

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Chapter 12: Women in Scientific and Engineering Workplaces

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pp. 197-219

Many scientists and engineers would like to assume that they are unbiased, but an analysis of how merit is judged in the world of science and engineering points to a different result. Several studies have demonstrated that, although the selection of faculty, the hiring and promotion of scientists and engineers...

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Chapter 13: Strategies for Equitable Workplaces

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pp. 221-233

The “gender gap” in employment is the subject of a recent study by an economist at Goldman Sachs, Kevin Daly (2007). Daly points out that “in labour force survey data across countries, the child care requirement is consistently the most commonly cited reason for female inactivity in the...

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Chapter 14: Developing a New Culture in Science, Engineering, and Technology

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pp. 235-257

As we saw in Chapter 4, historically there has been a close association between views of women as being “naturally” incapable of engaging in science or engineering and the use of metaphors of nature, or knowledge, as a woman to be wooed or controlled by male scientists...

Part IV: Profiles of Three Women, by Peter Frize

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Chapter 15: The Bold and the Brave: Sophie Germain, Mileva Marić Einstein, and Rosalind Franklin

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pp. 261-298

Throughout the brief history of human beings, men have been recognized for their achievements in all spheres of endeavour. Their ubiquitous presence has been observed and documented in many forms of literary production. In government, the military, religion, and commerce, they have...

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pp. 299-303

Peter Frize, Nadine Faulkner and I hope to have demonstrated in this book that the predominant patriarchal system has, until recently, prevented the access of girls and women to higher education, to membership of academies, other learned...


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pp. 305-315


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pp. 317-331


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pp. 332-348

E-ISBN-13: 9780776618845
E-ISBN-10: 0776618849
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776607252
Print-ISBN-10: 0776607251

Page Count: 366
Publication Year: 2010