Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
By Kadri

The Unforgotten Sisters by Gabriella Bernardi

How come there are rarely any female scientists mentioned when it comes to the history of science and astronomy in particular? "The Unforgotten Sisters" offers some insight to the rare and wonderful ladies of the past who by some luck or thanks to a family-member ahead of their time got the education necessary to contribute something to astronomy or science in general.

The book gives short biographical accounts of over twenty women from ancient times to the beginning of 19th century. They're not all obscure / Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville pop to mind immediately, but there are a few more whose names at least are mentioned in books more often - for example Émilie du Châtelet, the French natural philosopher mentioned sometimes in connection to her relationship to Voltaire.

The biographical accounts bring out some similarities in the lives of these women - the most noticable similarity is where they got their education from. For most part they needed to have a male familymember who would be accepting and supporting in the woman's quest for knowledge and possibly the first to teach the girl. There are some exceptions to the rule, where the mother played an important role.

It is also interesting to read some of the opinions of the lady astronomers about what they thought about such occupation for a female - who thinks it's wholly suitable and nothing should come in the way of a woman in science as they are in possession of equal faculties to any man, and there's also the idea that mayble women are lacking in a creative genius and can only hope to popularize the science, do calculations and observations, but not create new theories. To combat that we only just need to think of all the astronomers and scientists who aren't mentioned in history books, because of their only minor contributions when it comes to new ideas.

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