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From Eve to EvolutionDarwin, Science, and Women's Rights in Gilded Age America$
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Kimberly A. Hamlin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226134611

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226134758.001.0001

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“The Science of Feminine Humanity”

“The Science of Feminine Humanity”

(p.57) Chapter Two “The Science of Feminine Humanity”
From Eve to Evolution

Kimberly A. Hamlin

University of Chicago Press

Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, science ranked high on the women’s rights agenda. Enthused by evolutionary theory’s challenge to Adam and Eve, many female activists firmly believed that the progress of women went hand-in-hand with that of science. By the 1890s, though, the women’s rights movement coalesced to focus on winning the vote and the scientific establishment professionalized in such a way as to, more or less, exclude women. The Darwinian feminists resisted these shifts and continued to argue for the central place of science within the women’s rights movement and for women’s involvement in science. As evidence, chapter two traces the feminist response to popular scientific arguments that women were intellectually inferior to men or otherwise unfit for higher education, including Edward Clarke’s Sex in Education (1873) and William Hammond’s theory that women’s brains were inferior to men’s in 19 distinct ways. This feminist response to sexist science culminated in Helen Hamilton Gardener’s highly publicized decision to donate her brain to science in 1925.

Keywords:   Helen Hamilton Gardener, Brains, Edward Clarke, William Hammond, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, The Sexes Throughout Nature, Mary Putnam Jacobi, Science, Women and Science

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