The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, September 01, 2008

Where are all the women of genius?

Right here, with us now, and been here all along, says Richard Carrier.


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I don't know about the women Carrier is discussing (though my copy of Rihll's book on Roman catapults just arrived and looks good), but in biology, Lynn Margulis's theory of the symbiotic origin of eukaryotic cells has been one of the big influences on recent thought. Fifty years ago it was a fringe speculation; now it's taken for granted as the foundation for things like human evolutionary studies based on mitochondrial genetics.

Thanks for drawing this to my attention, Ken. I see the debate rumbles ever onward on both sides of the big pond.

Lynn Margulis sprang to my mind too, as a modern example. The Victorian period yields a number of examples of hidden women scientists, who might have done more in their own right but assisted fathers or husbands instead. And then there's Mary Sommerville who apparently belived that it was not "granted" to our sex to make the great discoveries. She laid the ground work for the discovery of Neptune but didn't follow through. Had she not believe the social propaganda of her time she might indeed have discovered the planet.

There's also me, who was labelled a "genius" by an educational psychologist when I was about 12 and have been trying to live it down ever since!

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