ABSTRACT

In a chapter that brings together a number of disciplines, the author creates a layered approach to the discussion of Women, Religion, Science, and Technology and the Age of Empire. In doing so, she seeks to demonstrate that the categories are mutually constitutive, often working along lines of mutual interest. This happened in the areas of gender and race identity. The shift in thinking from a divinely ordered world to one explicable in terms of natural concepts, cannot be overstated, and this chapter covers the period in which this took place. The chapter analyses the impact of new thinking on the concept of women's nature. Medical innovations prompted new debates about the relative authority of science and religion. Dissenting denominations were both more accepting of scientific thinking, and more open to egalitarian gender relations. But as science itself became professionalized, women's knowledge and experience were excluded, and the study even of gender was conducted by men. Thus, the claim to scientific objectivity gave credence to views that were based on gender-exclusive observation. This had an impact on women's health care, which can be discerned up to the present day. Through intense struggle, women did enter the scientific and medical professions, and bring about change, though there is still more to be done.