Women, Sex, Science and Darwin

Colored light motion As I live in Cambridge, I am surrounded by the paradox of some of the world's smartest women, living, working and studying at a University that did not even grant them full degrees until 1948. This year, I am also surrounded by the influence of Charles Darwin as it the 200th anniversary of his birth…much cause for celebration in this erudite community. However, one project is shedding light on Darwin's opinions on women. According to Science Magazine: "The University of Cambridge will transcribe letters to and from Darwin’s 148 female correspondents to reveal more about how he helped change the scientific playing field for women.[This is] a side of Darwin that you wouldn’t necessarily know about,” says project director Jim Secord. It’s true that Darwin still believed that women were best adapted for carrying out domestic tasks, acknowledges Secord, but unlike others at the time, he was “quite open minded to women having an intellectual role” and took the work of female scientists seriously."

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