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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. James E. McLellan (1985, pp. xxi–xxii) summarizes what happened: The 18th century was the heyday of the general scientific society. By the 19th century learned societies ceased to be the premier institutions for the organization and pursuit of science. That role was taken over by specialized professional scientific societies, and by universitybased teaching and research. . . . The 18th -century type of scientific society (academy) survives as a local or provincial social group, as an honorary organization to which one is elected at the end of an active scientific career, or as an overarching bureaucratic entity controlling the research efforts of subordinate units. . . . In the 18th century, the scientific enterprise grew considerably Chapte r 6 R Education for Women in the 18th Century 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 91 16/11/09 6:19 PM 92 THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE larger and became better integrated into society. . . . By 1800, the social profile of science had changed considerably . . . [with] many more serious practitioners of science . . . [and] many more niches in society where scientific knowledge was valuable and where the man of science could make a home. Governments at all levels had become convinced that science was useful to the state, and they had incorporated scientific and technical expertise into their service. . . . By the 19th century science had become tightly woven into the cultural fabric of the West. When science was still relatively poorly regarded by society, in the 16th and 17th centuries, women had found fewer obstacles to studying or practising science, as we have seen exemplified (in Chapter 4) by the numerous women astronomers of the era. As the enterprise of science was reorganized into formal bodies that excluded women, it became more difficult for women to engage in these activities, the main obstacle being their lack of access to scientific education and to the instruments necessary for the practice of science, from telescopes and microscopes to such equipment as the vacuum jar. Women also had difficulty finding publishers who would agree to print and publish their writings, which is why so many adopted pseudonyms. In spite of these and other obstacles, some women found ways to study science and mathematics, to get involved in scientific work, to write, and even to get published. The common factors that enabled these women to achieve some measure of success and recognition were their genuine interest in, and curiosity about, science or mathematics; their abilities in these subjects; and, almost always, support from men who encouraged them to pursue their interests in spite of social convention. We can only imagine what these women could have achieved if they had been allowed free rein. 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 92 16/11/09 6:19 PM Education for Women in the 18th Century 93 Divergent Views of Women’s Abilities The common belief in the inferiority of women became even more entrenched in 18th-century Europe than it had been in the 17th century. As we saw in Chapter 2, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Goethe, von Humboldt, and other influential thinkers believed that girls and boys should receive completely different types of education. What is interesting is that several women writers of the day agreed with them. This section presents a selection of their views, and the views of their opponents, drawing on the work of Phyllis Stock (1978, pp. 109–15). Anne d’Aubourg de la Bove, comtesse de Miremont (1735–1811), wrote a seven-volume course on girls’ education (1779–89), which Stock summarizes as follows: “Women were not destined to learn anything in depth. The study of religion and the accomplishments was to be enriched by the three Rs, [that is, reading, writing, and arithmetic,] grammar, geography, history, and natural science ... [but] women should never appear learned.” Hannah More (1745–1833) argued in her Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies (1777) that moral reform should start with the aristocracy as role models for the young and the lower classes. As one of the most successful writers of her day, More used her huge influence to recommend that women “restrain themselves, to give up public expression of their own opinions, even if they were right.” Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin, comtesse de Genlis...


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