Heroic journeys? Networks of women scientists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (16 June 2015, Brussels) Conference

Belgian Science and Technology Online Resources (Bestor), the research program Scientific Personae in Cultural Encounters and the University of Leuven’s  Research Group of Cultural History since 1750 are jointly organizing the international workshop “Heroic journeys? Networks of women scientists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century”.  

Scientists need networks for the validation of their knowledge claims as well as the furthering of their careers. These scientific networks have taken on many forms. Formal and institutionalized networks have coexisted with equally important informal, even familial networks. They could be national as well as transnational. In all cases, these networks were gendered spheres: ranging from open to all, yet male-dominated to exclusively female forms of sociability.

Heroic journeys? investigates the forms international scientific female networking have taken in the late nineteenth and twentieth century and how this networking provoked cultural encounters of women scientists. What role did these networks play in the journeys – both in a figurative and a more literal sense – of women scientists? Did exclusively female networks foster women’s careers, or did they rather reinforce processes of marginalization in a male dominated environment? Was international travel, an increasingly important aspect of being a scientist, enhanced by this networking?

We propose to research this through the lens of scientific personae. In what way did these networks open up or close down roles and repertoires of being a scientist? Was it possible for women scientists to adapt personae that were perceived masculine, such as the heroic scientist? Or were their options confined to different, more feminine models?

The full programme and practical details can be found in this document: Congres Heroic journeys, or on this website.

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