Science Has No Sex

The Life of Marie Zakrzewska, M.D.

By Arleen Marcia Tuchman

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 illus., 10 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1517-2
    Published: March 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7732-6
    Published: December 2006

Studies in Social Medicine

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German-born Marie Zakrzewska (1829-1902) was one of the most prominent female physicians of nineteenth-century America. Best known for creating a modern hospital and medical education program for women, Zakrzewska battled against the gendering of science and the restrictive definitions of her sex. In Science Has No Sex, Arleen Tuchman examines the life and work of a woman who continues to challenge historians of gender to this day.

At a time when most women physicians laid claim to "female" qualities of care and nurturance to justify their professional choice, Zakrzewska insisted that all physicians, regardless of gender, should depend upon the rational faculties developed through training in the natural sciences. She viewed science as a democratizing tool--anyone could master science, she asserted, and therefore the doors to the elite profession of medicine should be opened to all.

Shedding light on the changes that radically transformed medicine in the late nineteenth century, Tuchman's analysis also demonstrates how Zakrzewska's activism is important to the ongoing debate over the relationship between science and sex.

About the Author

Arleen Marcia Tuchman is professor of history and affiliated member of the program in women's and gender studies at Vanderbilt University. She is author of Science, Medicine, and the State in Germany: The Case of Baden, 1815-1871.

For more information about Arleen Marcia Tuchman, visit the Author Page.


"Tuchman's meticulously researched biography of Marie Zakrzewska makes a valuable contribution to the history of women in nineteenth-century American medicine. . . . The power of this biography lies in its scrupulous attention to the historical record and in Tuchman's talent for tracing intertwined stories of lives, relationships, and institutions."--Journal of American History

"This thoughtful, informed, and highly readable biography describes an important figure in U.S. women's history and the history of medicine."--American Historical Review

“Scholarly, engaging. . . . This superb biography, arriving at a time when comparing the brains of men and women is again all the scientific rage, is a welcome addition to the long debate over sex and science.”--New England Journal of Medicine

"Brings to light many of the tensions that women still face today while pursuing careers in science. . . . This biography . . . comes at a very crucial time."--New England Quarterly"

"Offers a comprehensive and insightful story about nineteenth-century notions of science, medicine, and gender. . . . An important contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century medical trends."--Canadian Journal of History

"[An] outstanding contribution."--Journal of National Medical Association