Re-Imag(in)ing Women in Science: Projecting Identity and Negotiating Gender in Science

  • Sally Gregory Kohlstedt
  • Donald L. Opitz

Abstract

Women — and men — in science often need to imagine themselves in ways that do not readily conform to the norms prescribed by popular culture imagery2 While pursuing studies of the natural world, scientists construct private and public images of themselves that affect how they navigate through and beyond the social Conventions of their time. As we examine historically the images of women scientists in particular, we see again how powerful the physical body is, at once the site of our most private selves but also our very public presentation of self. The role of gender in science is heavily dependent upon evolving discourses and experiences of mind and body, domestic and professional spheres of life, and personal identities. The self-images of women scientists proved remarkably malleable, able to both compete with and yet sometimes reinforce gendered public images of women. In the process, images could sustain personal ambitions and significant scientific work. Our emphasis on the resiliency of the women studied here does not minimize their struggles, but as historians we must mark as well the sometimes unconscious and sometimes consciously Strategie ways women negotiated gender norms, bringing their own agency to the pursuit of their scientific aspirations.

Keywords

Fatigue Europe Radium Tuberculosis Coherence 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Discussions of what it means to see, be seen, and represent are important but beyond the direct scope of our investigation. For important early and recent approaches, see Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage, 1973 [1966]); John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: British Broadcasting System with Penguin Books, 1972); and E.H. Gombrich, Uses of Images: Studies in the Social Function of Art and Visual Communication (London: Phaidon, 1999).Google Scholar
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally Gregory Kohlstedt
  • Donald L. Opitz

There are no affiliations available

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