Newsletter - March 2014, Issue 5


The Core of Neapolitan scientist in the 1700
SHEMERA Euro-Mediterranean Workshop: do not miss Naples!

Women’s Stories, referring to personal stories of extraordinary women who made a significant (but not recognized) contribution to the history of science.

International Cooperation Projects and Events

by Maria Caprile, CIREM, Spain
This fifth issue of our SHEMERA e-newsletter is launched at a project watershed. So far, research has been mainly focused at the National level, looking at three key themes: statistics on gender and science, gender equality policies in science, and research on gender inequalities in scientific careers. In all the Southern Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia) national experts have been working in order to collect and analyse national statistics, policy examples and relevant literature. It is now time to start the comparative analysis, with the aim of providing a comprehensive overview of gender and science issues in the Southern Mediterranean area.
Parallel to this research work, we are also deeply involved in dissemination and networking activities. We are organising National workshops in each country in order to present the results of our project and discuss its policy implications. The workshops in Palestine and Egypt have been already held, whilst workshops in the other countries will take place during the next three months.
Policy debate will culminate in the Euro-Mediterranean workshop on gender and science next 30 May 2014 at Città della Scienza (Naples), which will bring together SHEMERA experts and national representatives of women/gender-sensitive scientific associations in the Southern and Northern Mediterranean countries. It will provide an opportunity to learn about the situation in each country and to discuss policies for the promotion of gender equality in research in the Mediterranean area, taking into account the findings of previous European projects, the results of our project and the policy debates held at the national workshops.


ULB – Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

BAY-KKI - Bay Zoltan Alkalmazott Kutatasi Kozhasznu Non profit Kft, Hungary (instead of  TETALAP – Hungarian Science and Technology Foundation)
EKT/NHRF – National Documentation Centre / National Hellenic Research Foundation, Greece
ITU – Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Turkey
IDIS – Fondazione IDIS - Città della Scienza, Italy
AARC – Arab and African Research Centre, Egypt
ASRT – Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
CIDDEF – Association culturelle M’Barek Ait Menguelet, Algeria
AU – Alexandria University, Egypt
WSC – University of Jordan, Jordan
RSS – Royal Scientific Society, Jordan
USJ – Université Saint-Joseph, Lebanon
UH2MC – Université Hassan II, Mohammedia-Casablanca, Morocco
IWS – Birzeit University, Palestinian-administered areas
ALEPPO – Aleppo University, Syrian Arab Republic
FSB – Université de Carthage, Tunisia
CIREM – Fundació Centre d’Iniciatives i Recerques Europees a la Mediterrània, Spain 

by Raffaella Simili - President of the Italian Society History of Science, Department of History Science, University of Bologna
The Core of Neapolitan scientist in the 1700.
During the Age of Enlightenment, the city of Naples emerged for its scientific and cultural vitality. The presence of eminent and ground-breaking intellectuals and scientists had given life to a lively atmosphere well known also abroad.
Naples was also prominent for the its female personalities, such as Maria Angela Ardinghelli, Faustina Pignatelli princess of Colubrano, Eleonora Barbapiccola, Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, effectively integrated into a national and international environment by virtue of their scientific reputation, equal to that of their contemporary colleagues, such as, to stay in Italy only, Laura Bassi and Anna Morandi Manzolini of Bologna, Maria Gaetana Agnesi of Milan, Cristina Roccati of Padua.
It was the authoritative voice of Benedetto Croce, on the occasion of the beautiful passionate portrait of the martyr-patriot Fonseca Pimentel, to shake the history of women’s scientific studies in the Naples of the eighteenth century.
“Princess of Colubrano Faustina Pignatelli, Giuseppa Eleonora Barbapiccola, Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, Isabella Pignone del Carretto, Maria Angela Ardinghelli were [...] among the many women who cultivated with great fondness in Naples their studies in the physical, mathematical and natural sciences”.
Among her peers was the famous Jean Nollet to consecrate the competence in experimental physics of Mademoiselle Ardinghelli (1730-1825) by addressing to her the first of his Lettres sur l’électricité (1753). A letter, this one, demanded by Ardinghelli herself, intrigued by Benjamin Franklin’s amazing electrical experiments overseas, of which she was aware thanks to the specialist journals of the time.
Similarly, the Swedish scholar Jacob Jonas Björnståhl declared, describing his travels in Italy,  that there were no other women in the entire city of Naples to mention. A not less benevolent opinion on Ardinghelli’s scientific capabilities was confirmed by the well-known French astronomer, De La Lande (today quoted as Lalande or De Lalande) in the preface to the three volumes of his work Voyage en Italie (1787-88) and, in particular, in the thirtieth chapter Des Sciences et des Arts.
Maria Angela had attained some notoriety in Italy and abroad thanks to her translations of the famous work of Stephen Hales: Statical essays: containing haemastatics; or, an account of some hydraulic and hydrostatical experiments made on the blood and blood-vessels of animals (1750-52), and Statical essay: containing vegetable statiks; or, an account of some statical experiments on the sap in vegetables (1738~1740) of 1756.
She was part of the so-called circle of the Prince of Tarsia, founded in 1747, the club that among the Neapolitan ones was the more tied to Newton, to experimental physics and electricity. Not surprisingly, her translations were appreciated for the similarity between her experimental eye and that of the author.
Breaking with Harvey’s tradition, Hales was the first to carry out, according to the method of Newton’s Optics, a scheduled series of experiments based on the “most exact proportions of number, weight and measures” typical of the “statical way” to investigate the nature, applying this method not just to the animal kingdom but also to the physiology of plants.
Maria Angela’s choice revealed, on the one hand, her love for experimentalism (here are the sentences from Hales’ introduction invoked by herself in the preface: “for the wonderful and secret operations of Nature are so involved and intricate, […], by a numerous and regular series of experiments”); for the other, it showed the reformatory requests of Neapolitan cosmopolitanism, which had provided for the circulation in the city of Royals Society’s Philosophical Transactions, in which were reported, as it is known, the Hales’ records.
Faustina Pignatelli (? – 1785) Princess of Colubrano, contemporary of Ardinghelli, was the other woman scientist praised by the astronomer De La Lalande. She engaged herself not in translations, but in her own writings (apparently all disappeared). Faustina was head of a circle similar to that of the Prince of Tarsia, always avowedly anti-metaphysical in the general science context, but a more cautious experimentally.
“Very  intelligent dame in mathematics and philosophy”, so Faustina was judged by Genovesi, Zanotti, De La Lande and Voltaire, who, drawing a parallel between the figures of Pignatelli and Madame du Châtelet, emphasized her independent judgment with respect to the positions of Nicola Di Martino who, with his brother Peter, had linked his name to the dissemination and full assimilation of Newtonianism in Naples.
In 1734 the Princess published as “anonimae napolitanae” on the «Nova Acta eruditorum» of Leipzig a dissertation titled Problemata Mathematica, thus getting to the heart of the debate about the dispute between Descartes and Fermat on the refraction of light and the famous dispute over the so-called vital forces.
Judging from an essay by Francesco Maria Zanotti, secretary of the Institute and Academy of Sciences from 1723 to 1766, De vi corpurum viva, published in the «Commentarii» of the Academy of Bologna in 1745, she had a solid mathematical preparation that allowed her to elaborate about the problem of vital forces an original position and to insert herself into this debate with a series of epistemological reflections. This had earned her in 1734 the election to honorary member of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Bologna.
Four years later, in 1736, was Pignatelli herself to send to Zanotti a text to be included in «De Bononiensi scientiarum ed artium Istituto atque Accademia commentarii». Instead of getting it into print, he preferred to discuss it extensively in his paper of 1745 together with the statement De Corpurum quae moventur viribus earunque aestimandarum ratione by Pietro Di Martino sent to him in 1741.
Both these works were closely related each other although Pignatelli and Di Martino had different positions: the first one, according to Zanotti, believed that the controversy over the vital forces was mostly nominal and that, as such, “if Cartesians and Leibnizians would agree upon the meaning of a few names, the rest of the question would be reduced to nothing”. Faustina, by “demonstrations and very elegant hypothesis”, highlighted indeed the terminological  confusion between momentum and energy, stating that for “vim quam corpus habet ad agendum” she intended “summa Virium omnium, quas impedit corpus in exercendis singulis suis actionibus”.
This is the point around which the dialogue between Pignatelli and Zanotti was developed; a dialogue which, reaffirming their respective positions, ended with a wit of the latter, which made ​​it clear that, while it is true that the physicists “do not risk to dispute [on the nature] of that virtue which moves the bodies”, it is equally true that metaphysicians are “more obscure and get lost in unnecessary quarrels”.  
It is impossible to close this brief picture of these brilliant Neapolitan women of the eighteenth-century, unless remember the scientific and naturalistic skills of the “revolutionary” Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel (1752-1799), besides her frequent contacts with Lazzaro Spallanzani and Alberto Fortis, as well as the philosophical skills  of Eleonora Barbapiccola (1702-?), called the “beautiful Cartesian of Naples”, who translated in 1722 Descartes’ Principia Philosophiae accompanying the translation with a preface in which she claimed how the Principia was a work for women and how they should receive an intellectual education like that of men. 


SHEMERA Euro-Mediterranean Workshop: do not miss Naples!

by Anne-Marie Bruyas, International Relations, Città della Scienza, Italy
Flavia Zucco, Biologist, Women in Science Association, Italy
Next 30 May, Città della Scienza will host the Euro-Mediterranean SHEMERA Workshop. After three years of research and networking activity to understand better the presence of Women in Third Mediterranean Countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian-administered areas, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia), main scope of this workshop is to share the outcomes with European Countries and to discuss ways policies for the promotion of gender equality in the short- and mid-term.
Not by chance this workshop will be the intermediate step before the Final Conference that will be held in Cairo in October 2014, and it represents the crossroad between the results of the research and the formulation of recommendations.
Targeted audience are 50 participants among the SHEMERA partners, National representatives of women/gender-sensitive scientific associations in the Europe and in the Mediterranean partner Countries, and leaders of other European project in the field.
‘Gender equality in science’ may refer to organisation issues (promoting women’s and men’s balanced presence in science) and/or content issues (mainstreaming sex and gender analysis into basic and applied research). ‘Gender equality policies in science’ refer to any kind of measure, programme or legislation aimed at promoting gender equality in science: It may be a national policy, but also a measure implemented in one single university.
Following Schiebinger (2008), we differentiate between three policy approaches to gender equality in science. The first of these approaches (Supporting women: supporting women’s educational opportunities and careers) focuses on programs targeting women themselves in efforts to increase their participation in science. The second approach (Promoting institutional change: transforming structures and removing barriers) seeks to increase women‘s participation by reforming research institutions. The third (Mainstreaming gender in knowledge production: mainstreaming gender analysis into basic and applied research) focuses on overcoming gender bias by mainstreaming gender analysis into basic and applied research. These three approaches are interrelated: increasing women’s participation in science will not be successful without restructuring institutions and mainstreaming gender analysis into knowledge production.
The Naples Euro-Mediterranean workshop will look at these three approaches, starting in the morning session from the progresses made in the three SHEMERA axis of research (statistics on gender and science, gender equality policies in science, and research on gender inequalities in scientific careers), the discussion, looking at the road done since twenty years in Europe, was started at the national level within the National Task Force and national Workshops (already hosted in Palestine and in Egypt; scheduled for March 27-28 in Marocco and May 7 in Jordan).
In Europe everything started in 1997 when a women Edith Cresson was European Commissioner to Research.  She established a Unit devoted to Women In Science, chaired by an extraordinary women, Nicole Dewandre, very competent and committed. We are indebted to her for the progresses made during those years.  The basic actions such as building the data-base (She figures), rising the network of the networks (EPWS – European Platform of Women in Science), establishing the Helsinki expert group were launched at that times. Essential documents (such as the  ETAN report and the 1999 Commission Communication  (COM–76 final: Women  and Science: Mobilising women to enrich European Research), were produced. It was clearly stated in this communication that the gender equality was not only a matter of justice, but it was important to avoid waste of resources and talents. For these reasons action must be taken to promote research FOR women, ON women and BY women. The activities of the first 10 years have been highlighted in a EU conference in Prague on 2009 (Stocktaking 10 years of ”Women in Science”  1999-2009).  After that and according to the new Framework programs of the European Commission, the focus moved on the three aspects mentioned above and the attention has been concentrated on the relationship among gender and scientific institutions (see for example “Meta-analysis of gender and science research – Synthesis report”  and “Women and Science: excellence and innovation – Gender equality in science”).  On the same trend are the recently launched projects under the 7FP on mutual learning policy, aimed at transforming scientific institutions to be more gender friendly.
The results achieved in Europe will be presented by Teresa Rees, for the School of  Social Sciences of the Cardiff University, who has been involved in the expert group. The second half of the workshop will be dedicated to debate and networking in working groups between partners and representatives of Women associations from both sides of the Mediterranean. A sample of experts (five for Europe and nine from Mediterranean partner Countries, leaders of European projects on gender issues) have been invited to the workshop in order to enlarge the discussion and to get benefits from the experience of each one to the other.  Three thematic groups will be proposed in order to focus the discussion on the main key issues: (a) the presence of women in research in Arab Countries (past, present and future); (b) root causes of gender segregation in the labor market; (c) policies and measures to promote gender equality in the evolving context of MPCs.
The principal outcomes of the afternoon discussion will be reported by facilitators in the final session in order to prepare the roadmap for the Final Conference and the formulation of recommendations for policy-makers aimed at ensuring a better integration of the gender dimension in research policies of these countries.
This Final session will be open to the public in order to respond to the interest of many scientists and experts engaged at the local to raise gender issues in society. One year after the criminal fire that destroyed the Science Centre, Città della Scienza wants to reaffirm by hosting this  Euro-Mediterranean Workshop its cultural value to be an open place for science debate and for the public engagement in science at the local and International level.

For any information please contact:
Michaela Riccio:


Women’s stories

By Flavia Zucco. Biologist, Women in Science Association, Italy

This title refers to personal stories of extraordinary women who made a significant contribution to science but it also refers to their public removal and disavowal of their qualities and their work.  So, these stories prove that  power and institutions attitudes and politics towards these women are the same attitudes and politics implemented towards marginalized social groups in order to avoid them causing troubles.
Some women succeeded in digging past memories up and uncovering intentional concealments of female figures whose work concurred in science advancement and this was not only a historiographic contribution but also an act of strong political value. Actually, some men are engaging in the same task and they are revealing provoking and interesting aspects. Just think of the story of Ipazia, the subject of a film, but also of Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin as well as many other women to whose lives detailed studies were dedicated.
These narrations render justice to them and highlight science gender neutrality since its origins to present days. They also provide models to women fond of science such as the figure of Mrs Bassi, who was the mother of eight children but also the first graduated woman at Boulogne University, in 1731: she was an expert on physics and mechanics. Another example is the story of Merian who crossed the Ocean with the aim of studying, drawing and describing plants and insects in the New World, in 1799: she was 52 years old and she had divorced from her husband. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852),  who was better known as Byron daughter till some years ago, she is nowadays recognized as the first computer programmer. And what about Hedy Lamarr who is known to be a beautiful woman who performed the first nude scene in Hollywood movies story even if almost none reminds she invented a communication system at the base of the modern wireless system?
One of the first women who worked on this issue was Margaret Alic who was not a historian but rather a molecular biologist and this is a meaningful occurrence. Indeed, none beyond scientists was interested in seeing women history in science to provide models to new generations. 
Nevertheless, one the most  interesting and well documented book about women in science was written by a historian, Londa Schiebinger, a few years later. She analyzed the historical contexts and social conditions these women lived in and she tried reconstructing similarities in their personal experiences because of their marginalization and exclusion from the scientific world. Schiebinger let us know that, in the XVIII century, the Savant Women - Les Femmes Savantes - were greatly appreciated in salons but not outside them, as intellectuals such as Kant and Voltaire remarked.
The story of midwives, who passed on their knowledge orally since they were illiterate, is really representative. Their knowledge came from daily experience and it was strengthened by shared and effective practices. The attempts they did both in France and Great Britain in order to get their professional skills and awareness recognized were described in a detailed and story and emphasizing abuses they suffered. In 1634, in England they were forbidden to found their own corporation and their duties were transferred to surgeons, in  1642. We have to note that the social class of origin of these women was really relevant since their education as well as the recognition of their merit  benefited of their economic and social conditions.  As matter of fact, midwives were abandoned and ignored whereas women such as Mme de Sévigné or Émilie du Châtelet or Mme de Staël were treated differently. Despite all this, it was take no relevant note of these women.
Nowadays, this guilty by omission still goes on. Some years ago, a woman scientist addressed the editor of the magazine Nature to ask him if he thought that women scientists are immortal. She wanted to provoke him since all the obituaries published on the magazine referred to male scientists. It is just as women scientists are buried twice!

By Sara Sesti, mathematics teacher, Women and Science Association, Italy

Since ancient times, women cultivated an interest in science whenever they had the freedom and power to do so; but they have long been an exception, since education was reserved to men. The few women who emerged and succeeded came mostly from cultured and affluent families, and almost always they were supported by a prominent male figure. It’s our duty to recall the memory of women who were scholars and scientists, but have been effaced from history because they were not known by their own names, but were just daughters, wives or sisters.


Maria the Jewess (1st century B.C.)

One of the first women to appear in the history of western alchemy, Maria, also known as Miriam the prophetess, sister of Moses, is a figure between history and myth.
She lived in Alexandria in Egypt, some time during the first century a. C., and wrote several works, which were lately edited, extended and mixed up with other texts, of which only fragments remain. Maria invented and manufactured complex devices to distil and sublime, which she described in full detail. After two thousand years, one of her discoveries still survives: it’s the “bain-marie”or double boiler technique, largely known and used not only in laboratories, but in kitchens too, for warming and cooking.
Maria studied the effects on metals of the vapours of mercury, arsenic and sulphur; to that purpose she invented an apparatus, called by her “kerotakis”, shaped as a cylinder with a hemispherical cover on top, which was put over the fire; solutions of mercury, arsenic sulphide and sulphur were warmed up in the bottom, while on a plate on top were put the metals to be treated; the sulphur vapours etched the metal releasing black sulphide (the so called “Mary's Bath”), which was considered the first step of transmutation. As the warming procedure went on, an alloy was obtained similar to gold, whose composition varied according to the metals put on the plate and the mixture of vapours. The kerotakis was also used to extract vegetal oils, to produce for instance rose water. People believed then that minerals were male or females, according to the alchemic idea of genders, and that the products obtained in laboratories were generated by sexual intercourse, which also explained the occasional failure of trials and experiments.

Kerotakis                                                                                         Mary's Bath


Hypatia (approx. 370-415 B.C.)

Hypatia was born in the second half of the fourth century a.C. in Alexandria (Egypt), the capital of sciences in the Roman empire.

She received her higher education by her father Theon, who was the principal of the “Mouseion”, the legendary library of Alexandria; then completed her studies in Rome and Athens. Admired for her beauty and her mind, she always refused marriage, as she told she was already “married to truth”. When she was 31 years old, her father died and she took over the management of the neoplatonic school of Alexandria. She used to take part in the politic life and was consulted by the leaders of the city, who valued her wisdom and admired her freedom of speech and action. Her home became an important cultural centre, where scholars could study philosophy, astronomy and mathematics. The Roman emperor Constantine had adopted Christian faith as the established religion of the empire; since Hypatia refused to embrace that religion and professed her allegiance to the freedom of thought, she was regarded as an enemy by Christians. In 412, when Cyril became bishop of Alexandria, persecutions began; three years later, on March 8th, Hypatia was murdered by fanatical monks, acting under orders of that bishop; she was tortured and blinded, then her body was cut to pieces and burned. After her death, the members of her school in Alexandria scattered and its body of knowledge passed partly into the hands of the church.
Hypatia and her father are renowned for their commentaries on the writings of classical Greek scientists, specifically on the works of Euclid, Diophantus and Archimedes: they commented on the Arithmetica by Diophantus, founder of algebra, on the 8-volume Conics by Apollonius, on the 13-volume Almagest by Ptolemy, which gathered the whole astronomical and mathematical knowledge of the age; they also edited Euclid’s Elements. No original work has survived to the present time, but some copies have been found in the Vatican Library.
Hypatia also studied applied mechanics and technology and is credited with the invention of the hydrometer and of a flat astrolabe. The former, used to determine the relative density (or specific gravity) of liquids, had the shape of a cylindrical tube fitted with a weight at one end: the lower the density of the fluid, the deeper the weighted end would sink; a notched scale allowed to read the specific gravity. The astrolabe designed by Hypatia consisted of two pierced metal disks, which turned one over the other by means of a removable pivot pin, and was used to calculate time and to determine the positions of the Sun, of stars and planet.
Hypatia’s name has been honored in astronomy: the asteroid “238 Hypatia” discovered in 1884 was named for her. Hypatia has become a symbol of women independence and freedom and has inspired through the years many essays, novels and movies, as Agorà, directed in 2009 by the Spanish Alejandro Amenàbar.

Aerometer                                                     Astrolabe


Trotula (11th century)

We don’t known exactly when Trotula was born, but only that she lived around 1050 in Salerno, a town in Southern Italy which was at the time one of the leading trading centres on the Mediterranean sea.

Coming from the noble family De Ruggiero, Trotula was able to attend school and obtain a degree in medicine. She married the physician Johannes (John) Platearius and bore him two sons, who both followed in the steps of their parents. She was the best known of the Mulieres Salernitanae, the Ladies of the Medical School of Salerno, probably the first cultural centre not controlled by the Church and the first university in Europe, the only one open to women.
In her treatises on dermatology and gynecology Trotula showed an in-depth knowledge of the works by Hippocrates (430-377 b.C.) and Claudius Galen (129-200 a.C.). Her lectures were included in De aegritudinum curatione [The treatment of diseases], a text which collects the lessons of seven eminent university teachers; besides she wrote, together with her husband and sons, the manual Practica brevis. Her writings on skin diseases Trotula Minor describe remedies and advice for personal hygiene and body care through massage and baths. Her teachings in the gynecological field were largely followed, for instance her methods for relieving pains in childbirth. During 13th century Trotula was largely known all over Europe and her texts were used by the most famous medical schools. Manuals like De Passionibus Mulierum Curandarum Major [The treatment of women’ diseases] and De Ornatu Mulierum [Women’s Cosmetics] were written in medieval Latin, the European language of culture and science of the time. Gynecological topics were exposed without passing any moral judgment; also uncommon for that age was the large number of practical examples listed beside the theoretical explanations.
The so called Trotula Major was in use until 19th century, but in subsequent copies it was ascribed to a man, the imaginary physician “Trottus”: a common lot for texts written by women. Some historians, among whom the German Karl Sudhoff, tried to deny that such important works could have been written by a woman, but the results of philological analyses have proved them wrong. At the end of 19th century the legitimacy of the works by Trotula has been fully acknowledged, thanks to the studies of Italian researchers.

Rufaida Al-Aslamia is recognized as the first muslim nurse. She was born in Yathrib before the migration of Muhammad to Medina (622 d.c). She was among the first people in Medina to accept Islam and was one of the Ansar women who welcomed Muhammad on arrival in Medina.

A page of Al-Tasrif (“Method of Medicine”) depicting surgical tools. 

Rufaida's father was a physician. She learned medical care by working as his assistant. Her history illustrates all the attributes expected of a good nurse. She was kind and empathetic. She was a capable leader and organizer, able to mobilize and get others to produce good work. She had clinical skills that she shared with the other nurses whom she trained and worked with. She did not confine her nursing to the clinical situation. She went out to the community and tried to solve the social problems that lead to disease. She was both a public health nurse and a social worker.
When the Islamic state was well established in Medina, Rufaida devoted herself to nursing the Muslim sick. In peace time she set up a tent outside the Prophet's mosque in Medina where she nursed the sick. During war she led groups of volunteer nurses who went to the battlefield and treated the casualties. She participated in several battles. Rufaida's field hospital tent became very famous during the battles and the Prophet used to direct that the casualties be carried to her.At the battle of Al Khandaq, Rufaida set up her hospital tent at the battlefield. Rufaida had trained a group of women companions as nurses.
When Muhammad's army was getting ready to go to the battle of Khaibar, Rufaidah and the group of volunteer nurses went to Muhammad . They asked him for permission "Oh Messenger of Allah, we want to go out with you to the battle and treat the injured and help Muslims as much as we can". The Prophet gave them permission to go. The nurse volunteers did such a good job that Muhammad assigned a share of the booty to Rufaida. Her share was equivalent to that of soldiers who had actually fought. This was in recognition of her medical and nursing work.
Rufaidah's contribution was not confined only to nursing the injured. She was involved in social work in the community. She came to the assistance of every Muslim in need; the poor, the orphans, or the handicapped. She looked after the orphans, nursed them, and taught them.
Rufaidah had a kind and empathetic personality that soothed the patients in addition to the medical care that she provided. The human touch is a very important aspect of nursing that is unfortunately being forgotten as the balance between the human touch and technology in nursing is increasingly tilted in favor of technology.

International Cooperation Projects and Events
By Flavia Zucco

November 2013, Conference on Structural Changes Encouraging Gender Equality in Scientific Institutions, in Vilnius, Lithuania  (announced in the previous issue).
Now the recommendations are available on the following web-site:

2 December 2013, Working group “Gender Balance” by the European Research Council (ERC), Brussels. The theme of discussion was "On the way to the top: providing equal opportunities for men and women in science and technology
The ERC has launched, since 2007, an action plan for monitoring the activity performed by the council (call participation and grant assigned) in terms of gender distribution. Moreover the ERC is training the personnel on gender mainstreaming and to evaluate the awareness of subtle discrimination: for that purpose  provide the evaluators with a short vademecum and a introductory presentation before the session. The ERC will continue the activities on gender balance by consulting also the organization/individuals working on these aspects since years.
More information:

4 March 2014, Women in Science Conference, Spirit Bank Event Center, Tulsa The Conference aims to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The one-day event (free registration) is designed to allow students in grades six through 12 to engage in hands-on science activities; learn first-hand about science and technology career opportunities from Oklahoma’s top female scientists and engineers; and receive college preparation information from college, university and outreach representatives. The ultimate goal of the is to show students that STEM careers are exciting, attainable and rewarding.

15-17 May 2014, Beyond The Glass Ceiling, Istanbul
Women Rectors Across Europe, Role of Leadership in Structural Changes. European Women Rectors Platform and Istanbul Technical University are happy to announce the fourth conference on  the role of leadership in structural changes for achieving gender equality in academia.
More info:

25-27 June 2014, 4th AtGender Spring Conference, Barcellona, Spain
ATGENDER has established a tradition of organizing Spring Conferences dedicated to research and teaching/learning in Women’s, Gender and Feminist Studies, but also to activism, policy making, and dissemination of information. Following the successful ATGENDER conferences in Belgium (Brussels 2010), the Netherlands (Utrecht 2011), Hungary (Budapest 2012), and Sweden (Gothenburg 2013) the turn has now come to Spain and the next conference is hosted by Barcelona Provincial Council in the Francesca Bonnemaison Centre.
ATGENDER - committed to fostering an interchangeability of its Spring Conferences’ topics which are respectively research, teaching/learning, and activism/policy making - dedicates this year Spring Conference to: (1) Gender equality and policy making, (2) crossroads and intersections of feminist activism and equality polices, (3) establishing connections between equality agents, feminist activists, information specialists and those involved in academic gender studies.
More information:

30 June-01 July 2014, Gender Summit 4 - Europe 2014 (GS4-EU), Brussels
2014 will see the return of the Gender Summit to Brussels. The GS4 - EU will, again, bring together experts from research, industry and policy to jointly establish practical and effective ways of improving quality and impact of research and innovation through the inclusion of gender in science knowledge making and application.  The GS4 - EU will focus on strategies, tools, and processes that promote the concrete integration of the gender dimension into the European Commission's current Horizon 2020, and European Research Area programmes. The Summit will focus on the cross-cutting role of gender and how gender has been and should be integrated within some of the major themes of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme, such as personalised health, water resources, energy, environment, transportation. 
More information:

Cover images refers on Trotula di Ruggiero: The Human Body

Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Anne - Marie Bruyas, Pietro Greco, Michaela Riccio, Flavia Zucco
Fondazione IDIS – Città della Scienza, Naples (Italy)
Attilio Iannitto, Roberto Paura