A Mind of her Own: Helene Metzger to Emile Meyerson, 1933

Chimisso, Cristina and Freudenthal, Gad (2003). A Mind of her Own: Helene Metzger to Emile Meyerson, 1933. Isis, 94(3) pp. 477–491.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/380655

URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/Isis/journal/issu...

Abstract

In May 1933 the historian of chemistry Hélène Metzger addressed a letter to the renowned historian and philosopher of science Émile Meyerson, a cri de coeur against Meyerson's patronizing attitude toward her. This recently discovered letter is published and translated here because it is an exceptional human document reflecting the gender power structure of our discipline in interwar France. At the age of forty-three, and with five books to her credit, Metzger was still a junior scholar in the exclusively male community of French historians and philosophers of science. We sketch the institutional setting of higher learning in France at the time, noting the limited openings it offered to would-be femmes savantes, and situate Metzger in this context. We also describe the philosophical differences between Metzger and Meyerson. Though Metzger never managed to obtain a post of her own, in her letter to Meyerson she forcefully lays claim, at least, to a mind of her own.

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