Enlightened Scientific Contributions of Women in 18th Century Spain

By Madeline Killian

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Lewis


In the Age of the Enlightenment, women of nobility in Spain began to gain some authority to make important contributions to society in various ways. Through examining primary and secondary sources, and records from museums and archives in Madrid, we are able to gain insight into the political, social, and scientific achievements of these women. By breaking away from male-dominated spaces, these women’s groups had the opportunity to hold their own power and make change in their community. This research will explore the scientific contributions of the Junta de Damas while emphasizing the importance of the women’s movement at this time. The Junta de Damas was Spain’s first secular civic association for women and the female branch of the all male equivalent society, Real Sociedad Económica Matritense de Amigos del País (Madrid Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country). The group of women made significant scientific contributions to benefit infants using artificial feeding methods. Specifically, by improving hygienic standards they raised the infant mortality rate in the hospital. These findings show that women were able to make improvements when given the space and authority, and paved the way for further political, scientific and social advancements.


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