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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 societies, and professional associations, and to positions in the public domain. This has created a world of science without women, allowing an exclusively masculine perspective to develop and perpetuate itself. However, in every historical era, there have been courageous women who overcame obstacles and were able to produce serious scientific work. Many were ridiculed by famous authors, and others were severely criticized for not focusing their attention and energy on their “womanly duties” as wives and mothers. Many of them have been ignored by historians, and/or their contributions have been attributed to men. It is true that women frequently took male pseudonyms in order to publish, or had male relatives sign their work, yet even when these men confirmed that the work was done by the women, some historians continue to perpetrate the original attribution and ignore the correction. A case in point is the contributions of Maria Winkelmann (see Chapter 4), whose husband first signed the report to the King and later insisted that his wife had discovered the comet while he was sleeping. Throughout the ages, some women were determined to follow their interests, explore their talents, and make important contributions to the development of knowledge. These pioneers offer real inspiration for today’s women, and men, demonstrating that, with support and encouragement, their goals could be set and achieved. It has not been possible to analyze the materials presented in this book in depth, spanning as it does so many centuries and so many countries, principally, but not exclusively, the E p i l o g u e 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 299 16/11/09 6:19 PM 300 THE BOLD AND THE BRAVE United Kingdom, France, and Germany in Europe, as well as Canada and the United States. However, I hope that the materials presented will have stimulated the curiosity of readers, who can explore more deeply some of the important sources referenced here. I have also shared some of my own experiences as an engineering student, when few women were in these classes, and as a chair for Women in Science and Engineering. The knowledge I acquired through these experiences made me want to look into the past in order to understand the present and to make suggestions for a better future, in which science and engineering would be more gender balanced at all levels, including of course decision-making ones. I have read many excellent books, and visited several useful websites, enabling me to cover a very broad historical period, albeit not in depth, but, I believe, sufficiently to excite people about this topic. I fervently hope that others will continue to search for solutions and share them through their own writings. The most difficult issue discussed in this book is perhaps the “nature versus nurture” debate. Some people prefer to think that men and women can be the same if they are socialized in a similar way. Others prefer to think that the characteristics and attributes assigned to each gender are different, and should remain so, as long as both genders are valued and respected, and these attributes do not engender stereotypes, biases, and obstacles in the manner that they currently do. We have seen that some authors, such as Linda Jean Shepherd, believe that these differences will create better teams for solving problems of a scientific or technical nature. No matter which of these approaches the reader favours, the important point is to develop better understanding, esteem differences where they exist, and avoid misperceptions regarding the contributions and work dynamics of the various groups. This will make everyone feel part of the group, and better results will be achieved by diverse teams. 0014_Frize_5x8_B_v09_16_11_2009.indd 300 16/11/09 6:19 PM Epilogue 301 Progress has been slow. Part of the reason for this is the prevalence of beliefs in the myths discussed in this book. When we get rid of the stereotypes and false ideas about women’s abilities and skills, and face squarely the fact that there still are biases and double standards in many fields, then it will be possible to create an atmosphere of respect and trust for women’s true abilities that will lead to equality. The other major factor is the acceptance that the predominantly male view is not the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780776618845
Related ISBN
9780776607252
MARC Record
OCLC
864851766
Pages
366
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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