Scientists have always been a big influence, student Manon appears in her exhibition

In the Huygens Building Library is an exhibit on Women in Science (sciences). Philosophy and history student Manon Lambège hosted the exhibition. Why? “Putting female scholars of the past alongside traditional ‘big names’ makes it easier to determine their importance and influence.”

In the end, there are about fifty books on display in the display cabinets in the Science Library in the Huygens Building, but Manon Lambooij could have displayed more. If you look closely, says the philosophy and history student, you will find a lot of women in the history of science with stories of inclusion and exclusion.

How did you choose this exhibition?

“There had to be material that was visually pleasing to show, I had to choose for each subject and the women had to fit the story.”

Where did the idea to do this come from?

Associate Professor Willem Halfmann saw that the display cabinets were empty and came up with the idea. He introduced her to Carla Rita Palmerino, Professor of History of Philosophy. She knew I was already working on this topic a lot and asked me about it.

Why are you so busy with this topic?

In my first year of philosophy I had lectures on all the famous philosophers. That year I thought: Where are the women? Because if you start looking, there are a lot of them. Since then I have continued to delve into it. My main interest lies in women involved in science in the early modern period, between 1500 and 1800. But for this exhibition, I also looked at other periods.

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Photo: David Van Haren

Not only did she select the women’s books, but she explained them as well. What is your story about?

It is about inclusion and exclusion. Some of the reasons for this were the same in the early modern era as they were in the nineteenth century. I met women who made significant contributions to the discoveries that won men the Nobel Prize. You see, women can’t get a permanent job in the sciences.

On the other hand, you see exceptions, such as Laura Pacey, the first female professor of the eighteenth century. Or Maria Sibylla Merian, who trained as a painter and began taking plants and animals on her own, doing such important work in entomology (Study of Insects, ed.). When she travels to Suriname in 1699, she makes beautiful sketches of the nature there.

“You can see that there is now more interest in women working in science.”

You have to count on the books in the gallery, but for many women perhaps publishing wasn’t a given.

‘correct. We know that some women had an important role because their correspondence with male scholars has been preserved. Examples are Elisabeth van Bohemen and Anna Maria van Schurman. They corresponded with Rene Descartes, Constantine Huygens and other famous scientists. It is known again that the chemist Antoine Lavoisier was of great interest to his work.

You were also allowed to display works from the private collection. who were they

We were allowed before opening Woman: her structure and internal organs by Aletta Jacobs from 1898, but then had to be returned. But also Physics institutes By Émilie du Châtelet from the first half of the eighteenth century and Bertha van Noten’s book on the flora of Java.

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Should education pay more attention to the history of women in science?

You can see that there is now a lot more interest in women working in science. By adding female scholars of the past to the curriculum and placing them alongside traditional ‘big names’, you can better determine their relevance and influence. Thanks to the attention, we automatically detect any work that has been exposed for too long and I think it will be automatically included in the canon.

Anyway, it seems that this topic is not over yet for you.

“No, it still fascinates me, so I’ll keep working on it.”

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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