Monday, March 5, 2018

7 Books about 18th-Century Women in STEM Fields

Note: Although health/medicine is not traditionally considered STEM, I've decided to include medicine for the purposes of this list.

7 Books about 18th-Century Women in STEM Fields

The following women lived in a time when women were greatly discouraged and sometimes even legally barred from participating professionally in fields such as math, science, and medicine; despite these limitations, the women in this list dedicated their careers or even their entire lives to contributing--sometimes profoundly--to their respective fields.

Émilie du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment by Judith P. Zinsser
  • Émilie du Châtelet was a French mathematician and physicist who is best known for her opus Institutions de Physique and her translation of Isaac Newton's Principia, which contained her personal commentary that is now regarded as a profound contribution to Newtonian mechanics. 

Jane Colden: America's First Woman Botanist by Paula Ivaska Robbins
  •  Jane Colden was an American botanist who, though her work was never published in contemporary botany journals, spent years analyzing, illustrating and cataloguing American flora, resulting in an extensive, 340-entry manuscript.

The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini by Rebecca Messbarger
  • Anna Morandi Manzolini was an Italian anatomist, anatomical wax modeler and professor of anatomy whose detailed and accurate models and lectures on anatomy and dissection were highly regarded by physicians and students of anatomy throughout Europe.

Laura Bassi and Science in 18th Century Europe: The Extraordinary Life and Role of Italy's Pioneering Female Professor by Monique Frize
  • Laura Bassi was an Italian physicist and professor whose profound contributions to the study of physics in Europe resulted in academic appointments and a professorship at the University of Bologna, where she gave public lectures and used her professorship salary to pay for experimental research in physics and electricity.

The Quiet Revolution of Caroline Herschel: The Lost Heroine of Astronomy by Emily Winterburn
  •  Caroline Herschel was a German astronomer whose decades of work alongside her brother William Hersche resulted in the personal discovery of multiple comets, several important astronomical publications, and high honors such as the Royal Astronomical Society's Gold Medal.

The King's Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray by Nina Rattner Gelbart
  • Angélique du Coudray was a French midwife who is best known for her decades of work in advancing broader knowledge of proper prenatal care, infant delivery, and postnatal care throughout France; given a royal commission, she traveled throughout the country instructing both midwives and male physicians through her lectures and the first known life-size model of pregnant woman's reproductive system.

The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God by Massimo Mazzotti
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an Italian mathematician and professor who became the first woman to ever publish a mathematics handbook, which focused on differential and integral calculus, including her commentary on a mathematical curve which is known today as the Witch of Agnesi.  

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