According to recent historiography on women/gender and science, the uneasy relationship between women and the exact sciences only arose when in the last quarter of the nineteenth century secondary education for girls was organised and structured in opposition to boys' education, stressing the importance of a 'modern' curriculum. Before that moment women had taken part in the popular science culture as visitors of public lectures, as amateur and rather more professional scientists and as writers of best selling books on botany, chemistry or physics. This thesis, as argued most convincingly by Patricia Phillips in her book The Scientific Lady (1990), is tested for the Netherlands. Part I deals with recent literature on the history of gender and science. Part II explores the extent to which women had access to eighteenth-century science culture in the Netherlands, and the traces this left on early nineteenth-century education for girls. The author shows that the educational reformer Barbara van Meerten-Schilperoort did indeed pay quite some attention to the 'sciences' in her curriculum proposal as well as in her publications. This confirms the thesis that only when women gained access to formal education in girls' schools next to the state regulated boys' schools for secondary education, were the exact sciences labelled 'masculine', and contrasted with the 'feminine' humanities, in part as a reflection of the respective curricula.
|Translated title of the contribution||Choose exact sciences! in historical perspective: changing views on education for girls and the exact sciences, 1650-1880|
|Journal||Gewina (Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Techniek)|
|Publication status||Published - 1997|