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Femininity, Mathematics and Science 1880-1914 [Hardcover]

Claire G. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 60.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Oct 2009
Through the prism of gender, this book examines the contrasting cultures and practices of mathematics and science in the decades surrounding 1900 and asks how they impacted on women. Claire Jones explores ideas about women's intellect and femininity and assesses how these attitudes shaped women's experiences as students and practitioners. Particular attention is paid to women studying mathematics at Cambridge and the repercussions of their relative success on the pass lists.

Although the focus is firmly on women, the book also engages with issues of masculinity, identifying a culture of manliness within the laboratory and analysing the gender politics of the Royal Society of London, which almost elected a woman in 1902, but actually had no female Fellow until 1945. Using sources including institutional records, letters, memoirs, journalistic and fictional accounts, Jones offers fresh insights into the operation of gender within science and mathematics between c1880 and 1914.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230555217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230555211
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,510,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Winner of the Women's History Network Book Prize 2010
'This excellent, thought-provoking study will deepen the understanding of all interested in gender issues and in the conflicts in science and mathematics in this period.' - Reviews in History

Book Description

An examination of the culture and practice of mathematics and science with particular emphasis on gender and the participation of women

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5.0 out of 5 stars Femininity, Mathematics and Science, 1880-1914 27 Nov 2010
This is an excellent account of the history of women in the academic world of mathematics, science and engineering between 1880 and 1914.
Jones focuses on the barriers women faced at the turn of the 19th century such as the scientific laboratory which was seen as a harsh environment for women. These labs were places of manliness and heroism. An example is Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge which is named after Henry Cavendish who passed electric current through his own body. Even Darwin had theorised that women's intellect was not on par with men and women were lower down the evolutionary scale, closer to animals. The author also provides an interesting history of the suffragette's movement.
Jones has concentrated on two particular women, Hertha Ayrton and Grace Young, who both attended Girton College Cambridge to study mathematics. The author states that Hertha was the first Jewish woman to enter Cambridge and that she renounced Judaism so that she could assimilate into the middle class scientific society. Both women took the mathematical tripos examination at Cambridge with Hertha Ayrton opting for the applied mathematics route whilst Grace chose pure mathematics.
The author describes how by the end of the 19th century men were deserting the mathematics tripos for natural sciences tripos which consequently made this masculine in character. However the new women's colleges (Girton and Newnham) retained their preferences for mathematics.
The author makes a really fascinating point on the use of language in mathematics (something I did not realise) . `The feminised language distinguished pure mathematics from the applied and helped women to feel comfortable within the discipline'. Her she is referring to proofs being elegant and theorems - beautiful.
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