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Mary Fairfax Somerville

Subdeacon Joe

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Mary Fairfax Somerville was a world-renowned mathematician, geographer, science writer and theoretical astronomer. The inventor/astronomer/mathematician Sir David Brewster called her “certainly the most extraordinary woman in Europe.” She is also responsible for the coining of a word.

In 1834 the British intellectual William Whewell ran into a problem when writing a review of one of Somerville’s books. At that time practitioners of science were called “men of science.” Because he couldn’t very well refer to Mary Somerville as a “man of science” he needed another term. So, he invented one: “scientist.”

In one sense, therefore, we might say that Mary Somerville was the world’s first scientist.

Mary Fairfax Somerville died on November 29, 1872.



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im surprised that didnt happen sooner yet i realize in those days giving credit to women was not common , 


oddly enough back in the late 80s my wife's [before i married her] good friend and my roommate during all of our divorces started a computer programing buisness and used a mans name as the company DBA , she said there was still a stigma that would hold her back - i found that hard to believe but she made it work for her 

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My law school class of '73 had five women in it. The class next behind us had 15, and the next (class of '75) had 35. The trend continued unabated.


So I practiced law with women lawyers as partners, colleagues, adversaries, and friends for all of my career. The first jury case I tried against a woman lawyer was in 1977, 46 years ago.


What was interesting was the attitude of lawyers and judges of the older generations back then. They hardly knew what to make of all these women lawyers at first. But they adjusted in most cases very fast as they saw their work and abilities. 


And they had daughters who were of the new generation, too. By the latter part of the '70s the 'establishment' firms were vying to have the first woman lawyer, the first woman partner, etc.

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