Listen now (5 mins) | The intellectual movement of the 18th century known as the Enlightenment transformed Europe and North America. It gave importance to science and reason over faith and superstition. It also put forward new ideals about equality and freedom. However, the philosophers and thinkers of that period were divided on whether notions of liberty and equality applied to men and women equally. The French thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that women were dependent on men and that they are physically and intellectually inferior to men. On the other hand, and around the same period, philosophers like Denis Diderot, Marquis de Condorcet, Thomas Hobbes, and Jeremy Bentham supported women’s goal of achieving gender equality.