Herschel's Sister was Cheaper than a Male Assistant

Herschel made no bones about the fact that a female assistant, even his sister, would cost half as much as a male. It is possible to be indignant about this, but contemporary standards must be taken into account. Female domestic servants were paid £10 per annum, while a highly trained governess like Mary Wollstonecraft was paid £40 per annum by Lord Kingsborough in 1787. In fact a £60 stipend would have been handsome, exactly one-fifth of that paid to the Astronomer Royal. In Europe women who wanted to pursue science, like Voltaire’s beautiful mathematician Madame du Châtelet, or later Marie-Anne Paulze (Madame Lavoisier), simply had to have supportive or (even better) dead husbands, or private incomes. In Britain they had to be schoolteachers or children’s textbook writers, preferably both: like Margaret Bryan (astronomy), Priscilla Wakefield (botany) or Jane Marcet (chemistry). Only in the next generation was it possible to have a career like the physicist Mary Somerville, and (eventually) have an Oxford college named after you. But then, Caroline did live long enough to exchange letters with Mary Somerville drily remarking on this situation.


A short survey of other female scientists working at the time.

Folksonomies: science feminism egalitarianism equality women

/family and parenting/children (0.405377)
/business and industrial (0.371353)
/business and industrial/energy/electricity (0.247978)

mathematician Madame du (0.953960 (neutral:0.000000)), highly trained governess (0.949160 (neutral:0.000000)), later Marie-Anne Paulze (0.934874 (neutral:0.000000)), Female domestic servants (0.927381 (neutral:0.000000)), physicist Mary Somerville (0.910807 (neutral:0.000000)), Lavoisier), simply had to have supportive or (even better) dead husbands, or private incomes. (0.759762 (neutral:0.000000)), Male Assistant (0.729857 (negative:-0.311532)), Lord Kingsborough (0.729155 (neutral:0.000000)), short survey (0.710689 (negative:-0.311532)), female assistant (0.709414 (negative:-0.222427)), female scientists (0.707699 (negative:-0.311532)), Mary Wollstonecraft (0.705168 (neutral:0.000000)), private incomes (0.692464 (neutral:0.000000)), contemporary standards (0.691501 (neutral:0.000000)), Priscilla Wakefield (0.684240 (neutral:0.000000)), Astronomer Royal (0.683360 (neutral:0.000000)), Europe women (0.665340 (neutral:0.000000)), textbook writers (0.661172 (neutral:0.000000)), Margaret Bryan (0.660643 (neutral:0.000000)), Jane Marcet (0.652111 (neutral:0.000000)), Oxford college (0.646123 (neutral:0.000000)), Herschel (0.596815 (negative:-0.266979)), annum (0.581921 (neutral:0.000000)), sister (0.532134 (negative:-0.311532)), schoolteachers (0.491773 (neutral:0.000000)), fact (0.487819 (negative:-0.222427)), stipend (0.483921 (neutral:0.000000)), Cheaper (0.482230 (negative:-0.311532)), Voltaire (0.464547 (neutral:0.000000)), bones (0.457860 (negative:-0.222427))

Herschel:Person (0.804554 (negative:-0.266979)), Mary Somerville:Person (0.760180 (neutral:0.000000)), Mary Wollstonecraft:Person (0.582622 (neutral:0.000000)), Madame Lavoisier:Person (0.576651 (neutral:0.000000)), Madame du Châtelet:Person (0.574477 (neutral:0.000000)), Lord Kingsborough:Person (0.495961 (neutral:0.000000)), Priscilla Wakefield:Person (0.443681 (neutral:0.000000)), Margaret Bryan:Person (0.415744 (neutral:0.000000)), physicist:JobTitle (0.401192 (neutral:0.000000)), Jane Marcet:Person (0.397982 (neutral:0.000000)), Caroline:Person (0.383670 (neutral:0.000000)), Europe:Continent (0.378813 (neutral:0.000000)), Oxford:City (0.364984 (neutral:0.000000)), Britain:Country (0.356249 (neutral:0.000000)), one-fifth:Quantity (0.356249 (neutral:0.000000))

Scientist (0.916943): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Domestic worker (0.837803): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Astronomy (0.766267): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Mary Wollstonecraft (0.722977): dbpedia | freebase | yago
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (0.680856): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Nanny (0.677756): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Antoine Lavoisier (0.625921): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (0.621359): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Age of Wonder
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Holmes , Richard (2010-03-02), The Age of Wonder, Vintage, Retrieved on 2012-01-02
  • Source Material [books.google.com]
  • Folksonomies: history enlightenment science