Essays on Science and SocietyPORTRAITS OF SCIENCE

Two Good Women, or Too Good to Be True?

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Science  07 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5574, pp. 1805-1806
DOI: 10.1126/science.1069966

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The history of women scientists often reads like a chronology of hard-working heroines. This, in part, is thanks to the work of Victorian and Edwardian biographers, whose characterization of women as domesticated and dutiful family members has been passed on. This essay considers how such narratives have contributed to our recollections of Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville.