She cut her hair, bandaged her breasts and started studying. His female identity would be hidden from the public until, years later, as a specialist, he was accused of having raped two women. He undressed before the magistrates and dropped the charges. But they imposed new ones: to practice medicine as a woman, which entailed the death penalty. It was the fourth century before our era in Athens. Agnódice, considered the first medical woman, managed to save herself from punishment thanks to the support of other women who were her patients. They refused to have children again if someone ended their doctor's life (it was what is now known as an obstetrician), probably leading one of the first examples of sorority that have been recorded.
The history of Agnódice is one of about 800 biographies - for now - that can be found on the digital platform Women protagonists, of the Santillana editorial. It is a space on the web open to external collaborations, which collects to female figures that hardly appear in textbooks.
"The germ emerged a long time ago. We think that women in science were very poorly represented in school books, "explains Antonio Brandi, responsible for the Santillana area of science and director of the project that encompasses the platform. They published a manual to give to the teachers, The role of women in science and technology. And the proposal triumphed. A decade later, 10 titles have been published and there are another 20 on hold. They deal with the role of women in literature, in cinema, in education, in human evolution, in today's society, in the discovery of the world ...
The works - for sale in bookstores and on the web - are written by women specialists in the different areas that were dedicated to review the stories of other women.
Soon the books fell short. "They have a space limitation. When we started to investigate, we saw that hundreds of names came out that we did not want to lose, "adds Brandi. "We realized that the problem was not that there were no women, but that history had been told by men. They have led advances in culture and knowledge that have not been reflected. "
There are women protagonists in all areas. Adventurers like Amelia Earhart (1897-1937), the first woman who flew alone across the Atlantic. The inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000), who patented a frequency switching system, something like the origin of the current wifi. Or the English philosopher and writer Mary Wolstonecraft (1759-1797), author of the Vindication of the rights of men and women. His daughter, who has been most famous, also appears on the platform. It's Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
With the didactic manuals and the platform, Santillana tries to alleviate an endemic lack in the textbooks in which almost nobody had repaired until less than a decade ago. In 2011, the researcher Ana López-Navajas elaborated the largest study on the presence of women in educational materials. He analyzed 115 texts from three publishers and counted, on average, 7.5% of women's appearances in all subjects of Compulsory Secondary Education.
"The publishing houses are getting their batteries and more and more materials are coming out," says López-Navajas, who hopes to repeat his study in 2021 to check the evolution. That first work allowed us to detect something that was "obvious but we did not perceive", the invisibility of women in textbooks. "It's such a structural issue and it's so naturalized that we do not realize it's not normal. But it happens in music festivals or in artistic production ", adds this researcher from the University of Valencia and adviser of Equality in the Ministry of Education of the Valencian Government. It highlights the initiatives to rescue forgotten women because "they are instruments that facilitate the updating of the knowledge of teachers in each of their areas".