Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Biology

MARY WYER

The field of biology has played a uniquely central role in research on women and gender in science because of extensive research at individual, social, and symbolic levels of analysis (Harding 1986). Historically, women were systematically excluded from formal higher education in the biological sciences and medicine in Western culture. This exclusion was justified by an ideology that proclaimed men as intellectually and physiologically superior to women. As a result, knowledge about human biology has been biased by the notion that a male body is the normal human body. In recent years, social and political initiatives focusing on women’s health have begun to correct and advance biomedical knowledge to provide a more comprehensive understanding of human biology (Schiebinger 1999). Growing awareness about social biases in scientific research has prompted many researchers to discard simplistic theories about the relationship between biology and intellectual ability. More complex theories about human physiology and behavior now posit dynamic interactions between biological, psychological, and cultural influences to explain individuals’ abilities, interests, and performance in social and historical contexts. Though this has helped to decrease gender biases in women’s professional opportunities and in knowledge about women’s biology, it has also opened up a new set of questions about objectivity and taken-for-granted “facts.” Feminist theories have advanced the idea that social biases are deeply rooted in and sustained by the organization and frameworks of the ideas, perspectives, and facts that are accepted as legitimate (Harding 1986). Thus, the process of developing and reconstructing knowledge about human biology that is informed by critiques of gender bias has just begun.


Increasing Numbers of Women in Biology

At the individual level of analysis, it is clear that women have the interest, ability, and talent to pursue training in the biological sciences. Biology as a

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Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Chronological Section- Changes in Myths of Gender over Time 1
  • Antiquity 3
  • Medieval Era 17
  • Renaissance 31
  • The 18th Century 43
  • The 19th Century 61
  • Early 20th Century 79
  • Thematic Section- Concepts of Gender in Different Contexts 93
  • Disciplines - Chemistry 95
  • Physics/Astronomy 103
  • Mathematics 109
  • Computer Science 115
  • Biology 123
  • Psychology 129
  • Medicine 135
  • Technology 141
  • Aspects of Human Biology and Behavior - The Brain 149
  • Cognitive Abilities 155
  • Mental Illness 161
  • Personality/Rationality/Emotionality 167
  • Endocrinology and Hormones 173
  • Menstruation/Menopause/PMS 177
  • Early Modern Health 181
  • Gender/Sex—How Conjoined 187
  • Homosexuality 193
  • Race 201
  • Nature/Nurture 207
  • Institutions - Women’s Education 213
  • Motherhood 223
  • Religion 229
  • Universities 235
  • Federal Agencies 249
  • Industry 259
  • Professional Societies 263
  • Discrimination 273
  • Women Scientists as Leaders 283
  • Nobel Laureates 295
  • Gender and Occupational Interests 319
  • Other Perspectives on Gender and Myths and Beliefs in Scientific Research - Feminist Philosophy of Science 325
  • Biologists Who Study Gender/Feminism 337
  • Historians of Science and Technology Who Focus on Feminism 347
  • Primatologists Who Focus on Females/Gender 357
  • Critiques of Science 365
  • Marxism/Socialism and Feminism/Gender 373
  • Ecofeminism 381
  • Cyberfeminism 387
  • Race, Postcolonial Gender, and Science 393
  • Feminist Science Studies 399
  • Women’s Health Movement 405
  • Science Fiction 419
  • Conclusion 427
  • Appendix of- Statistical Tables 437
  • Glossary 445
  • Bibliography 469
  • Index 481
  • About the Editor 501
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