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The Fruits of Their Labor: The Work of Early American Scientific Women, 1750-1860

The Gest Fellowship from Haverford College supports research that examines the labor of early American women who practiced science, arguing that their erasure from historical narratives occurred not simply as a matter of contemporaneous sexism, but as cultural, social, and professionalizing factors that credentialed scientific work shifted over time. Celebrated women whose scientific careers spanned a significant portion of the nineteenth century retroactively became amateurs as women’s processes and products became less legible to Americans as science.

Dr. Jessica Linker will be writing a book in which chapters examine gender-based disparities and discrimination in eighteenth and nineteenth-century scientific societies, in book production, in education, and in archives themselves. Essentially, the book lays out the early American origins of the modern-day gender gap in science fields.

In addition to recovering women’s hidden scientific labor, the book seeks to understand how the new, professionalized woman scientist that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century became coded as white. The work seeks to understand how race and gender worked together to determine who could claim scientific authority and the legacies of this history.

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