~ Popular Science, March 1905
(a pdf of the entire article by A. Lapthorn Smith, B.A., M.D., can be downloaded here)
I don’t usually comment on the stuff I post here, but the way that the education of women was debated at the turn of the 20th Century has always interested me. “The Woman Question” was a topic of great concern at the time, and as the fact that the above excerpt was taken from Popular Science demonstrates, it was believed that proper scientific inquiry could provide an answer in the same definitive way it could answer questions about the “Effects of Lightening on Rocks and Soil” (March 1882), or the progress of the Panama Canal (Feb., 1888). The sheer amount of space given to it in Popular Science alone, (nineteen reference articles between 1874 and 1896, almost an article every year), demonstrates how seriously the subject was being debated.
It wasn’t a black and white case of “he said” vs. “she said” either, both men and women came down on both sides of the issue. As an example, in “Science and the Woman Question”, (Popular Science, March 1882), Miss. M. A. Hardacker sets out to prove, using the weight of the brain, direct food-into-intellectual-energy transference and other “science-y” theories, that men have a natural intellectual superiority and that “the maintenance of intellectual equality between the sexes is impossible, because it is only supposable by the creation of impossible conditions.” I assume the irony of her publishing a scientific study on the topic was lost upon Miss. Hardaker.
You can access the Popular Science archives here.