The Discrimination of Women

             Women's roles were the subject of change in the 16th and 17th century, as they began to actively participate in scientific research and discussions. This change did not happen easily because a great deal of men were still reluctant to acknowledge any sort of equality. Many women proved their ability by earning doctorates like Dorothea Erxleben, who was the first woman granted a German M.D. at the University of Halle. She spoke openly about the discrimination facing her and explained how many felt that she was declaring war on men by practicing medicine, or at least attempting to deprive them of their 'privilege'. Erxleben also felt that many other women were upset by her actions because they felt she was placing herself above them. .

             Those sentiments were in fact complete reality at the time. Johann Junker, the head of the University of Halle in 1745, firmly believed that women should limit their studies to music and the arts. Anything more than that, like attending university and perhaps receiving a doctorate, would simply attract to much attention. He even went the distance as to say that the legality of such an undertaking (women receiving a doctorate) should be investigated. Another Johann, Johann Theodor Jablonski, the secretary to the Berlin Academy of Sciences also shared the same belief as Junker. He was upset by the fact that a woman, Maria Winkelmann was permitted to work on the official calendar of observations for the Academy. He insisted that the Academy would be ridiculed because of her, and that 'mouths would gape' if she continued on in such a capacity. A fine example of the discrimination women faced if they attempted to pursue a university career.

             Those women who did succeed were faced with ignorance of the lowest levels. It was commonly believed, and sadly enough, even published in print, that women who advanced into the study of higher sciences would undoubtedly lose their femininity as their 'clothing will be neglected', and their 'hair will be done in antiquarian fashion'.

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