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

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Gender/Sex—How Conjoined

SUE V. ROSSER

For most of history, people believed that biological sex determined sexual orientation, social roles, and even occupational abilities, such as who could become a scientist. This belief led to much scientific research examining the biological bases for sex differences and deviations. Gayle Rubin (1975) explicitly described the sex/gender system, distinguishing the biology of sex from the cultural/social construction of gender to reveal the male-centered social processes and practices that constrain and control women’s lives. Rubin built on the implications of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir (1948), who initiated the second wave of the women’s movement. She provided the philosophical origins of existentialist feminism by suggesting that women’s “other ness” and the social construction of gender rest on society’s interpretation of biological differences (sex).

Rubin articulated the connection between the biological sex and the social construction of masculinity and femininity that result in superiority being attached to what was labeled masculine and in discrimination against what was defined as feminine across various societies. Although the definition of what tasks, roles, and behaviors were considered masculine and feminine varied among societies, the lower status ascribed to feminine and femininity remained consistent across societies. Rubin’s articulation of the operation of the sex/ gender system in a variety of contexts within a society and across societies provoked ethical questions about unequal treatment based on sex/gender in all arenas, including science and technology. Her explication of the sex/ gender system led to questions about whether sex/gender biases had permeated science and engineering on a variety of levels.


Flexibility of Biological Sex

Aware of the fluidity of biological sex among a variety of species in the animal kingdom, including humans, biologists explored the definition of biological

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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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