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Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History: Women in Science

with Mary Jane Bradbury

independent scholar and actress

19th century well behaved women did not aspire to much, nor was much expected of them. As the stories of women who broke away from the restrictions of society come to light, we find fascinating accounts of women from all walks of life who worked for social and political reform. They are everywhere—women making contributions to social reform, business, education, and science—an area of education and profession that was particularly restricted to women. As they began demanding access to the education that would allow them to be included in the scientific community, they led the way for others. As 19th century naturalist Katherine Sharp wrote, "the road to scientific attainment for men is broad and well paved through centuries of use. Women belong on it as well. Disappointments, discouragements and adversity are good for hardy natures and no other need attempt the road of science." So, what does it mean to be a well behaved woman? Let’s find out as we look at the lives of some of the women whose hardy natures attempted, and succeeded on the scientific road.