In reexamining the origins of modern science, Schiebinger unearths a forgotten heritage of women scientists and probes the cultural and historical forces that continue to shape the course of scientific scholarship and knowledge. Illustrations of female skeletons of the ideal woman—with small skulls and large pelvises—portrayed female nature as a virtue in the private realm of hearth and home, but as a handicap in the world of science. Midwifery and medical cookery were gradually subsumed into the newly profess ionalized medical sciences. But for women the promises of the Enlightenment were not to be fulfilled. At the same time, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century women witnessed the erosion of their own spheres of influence. Scientia, the ancient female personification of science, lost ground to a newer image of the male researcher, efficient and solitary—a development that reflected a deeper intellectual shift. It is often assumed that women were automatically excluded from participation in the scientific revolution of early modern Europe, but in fact powerful trends encouraged their involvement. Aristocratic women participated in the learned discourse of the Renaissance court and dominated the informal salons that proliferated in seventeenth-century Paris.
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