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Women in Science: a new issue?

Larry Summers's comments on almost two years ago set off a storm of controversy around the question of women in the sciences. The new involvement of women in scientific endeavors has brought this issue to a head... or has it?

Is it really new for women to be involved in the sciences, to be making discoveries and innovations that impact scientific attitudes and thinking?

4000 Years of Women in Science has a little something to say to that point.


To make inventions and discoveries one rquires great concentration and continuous involment. Women have limitations in this regard.This however is not because of their inability but because of the social and biological constraints.

What social and biological constraints do you see limiting women in making inventions and discoveries?

Yes, MV, do tell. Biological constraints?

I get so sick and tired of people saying things like, "Men's brains are wired better for spatial/mathematical/whatever reasoning. Science tells us so."

Well, about 120 years ago, science was telling us that letting women get a college education would make their ovaries shrivel up.

Sometimes science is politics by other means. I don't buy so much of the sex-based inadequacy stuff that's out there.

BTW, Rosa, here are two recent posts I've made on the topic of women in the history of science.

Thanks for keeping up the good fight!

Maybe MV is right. Are women more susceptible than men to brain fever from too much mental concentration? If we're going to dredge up 19th century scientific ignorance, why not go all the way?

The last couple days have been rough for me...I followed the link to the 4000 years of women in science page, and there read about En Hedu'Anna. I read that there is a bas relief of her at a museum here in the city where I live. I thought, cool, I am going to go check that out. I felt happy and uplifted. Then I came back here and clicked on the comments and what do I find? MV talking about women's limitations. Buzzkill.

Then I read what MV wrote again. MV is located in India (if you check out MV's blog) so I'm allowing for some cross-cultural communication. If you read what MV said, the limitations are NOT due to women's inability, but due to SOCIAL and BIOLOGICAL constraints. Well, I think we can all agree that there are social constraints on women's participation in science. Being sexually harassed, subjected to a hostile environment, will certainly interfere with your concentration and continuous involvement with work. What about biological constraints? Here, the only possible thing I can think of is child-bearing and child-rearing. But, these biological functions are only problems for women in science because of social/cultural conditions. Interpreting the biological constraint as having to do with childbirth is the only thing I can think of to make sense with the fact that MV says that women's limitations are not due to inability.

I don't know what the situation would be like for a young woman who would want to do science in India, compared to a woman in the U.S. (and the situation is not even the same for all women in the U.S.). So it would be great if MV would expand on the original comment.

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