A Web of One’s Own: Female Entomologists' Scientific Networks in Late 19th Century and Early 20th Century Britain

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Abstract Summary
While historians have shown the importance of networks in nineteenth and early twentieth century European science, women’s networks have hardly been examined. This paper aims to promote a fuller understanding of scientific communities by analysing the intricate connections between gender, class, and imperialism through a reconstruction of four British female entomologists’ networks. Margaret Elizabeth Fountaine (1862-1940), Emily Mary Bowdler Sharpe (186?-192?), Mary de la Beche Nicholl (1839-1922), and Eleanor Anne Ormerod (1828-1901) all developed their own networks for different purposes. Fountaine and Nicholl used colonial connections to travel and collect lepidoptera in exotic places. Ormerod used her network to obtain information on insects which were harmful to agriculture and to found the new scientific discipline of economic entomology in Britain. Sharpe meanwhile, became a well-known cataloguer and describer of new species, and constructed a network in which she mediated between buyers, sellers, and the British Museum. In this paper I will look at the strategies women employed to develop their networks, the purposes to which they used these networks, how they engaged in the entomological community, and their position within its hierarchy. By examining their networks I will argue that empire, gender, and class played an important role in the hierarchies of scientific communities in Britain at the time, much more than professionalisation.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Contributed Paper
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
19th century
Self-Designated Keywords :
Networks, Gender, empire, class, entomology, amateurs and professionals