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Woman as mediatrix: women as writers on science and technology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

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1 Author(s)
K. A. Neeley ; Sch. of Eng. & Appl. Sci., Virginia Univ., Charlottesville, VA, USA

It is argued that although the writing on science and technology produced by women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has usually been considered peripheral to scientific and technological advancement, the history of the mediatrix, or woman mediator, reveals that women writers carried out essential tasks. History suggests that women assumed the role of mediatrix much more frequently than they assumed other roles, largely because that role allowed women to contribute to science and technology without seriously violating gender norms. The careers and writing of four women mediators are described, showing that mediation is an unrecognized but crucially important aspect of the intellectual activity of science and that mediative writing often clarifies, rather than debases, scientific knowledge. The history of women mediators also suggests that intermediaries are essential for the functioning of the interlocking and overlapping groups and institutions that constitute science and technology and that it might be beneficial to restructure organizations so that the role of mediator is clearly defined and valued

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 4 )