Women peers in the scientific realm: Sarah Bowdich (Lee)'s expert collaborations with Georges Cuvier, 1825-33

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Abstract

The accepted rule for women contributing to nineteenth-century science before 1851 was that they could play only secondary roles in its production and authorship—as translators, illustrators, popularizers—and these by virtue of kinship or marriage to eminent scientists in the field or the laboratory. Sarah Bowdich (Lee) (1791–1856) presents an important amendment to this rule. As an explorer of West Africa on an equal scientific footing with her husband, and then a writer of science independently after his early death, she had other key roles as Georges Cuvier's cross-Channel scientific collaborator and as his first biographer. This article investigates and reframes Sarah's many individual achievements in science and its writing, to examine the larger questions of her case. How were her publications and ‘uneasy career’ in science possible? Can research on women in science today find inspiration in her example?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
Number of pages15
JournalNotes and Records of the Royal Society
Volume69
Issue number1
Early online date26 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • Sarah Bowdich (Lee)
  • Female peer
  • Georges Cuvier
  • Collaboration

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