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

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Race

ANNE J. MACLACHLAN

More that any other socially fabricated construct, the concept of race is deeply rooted in myth. The traditional meaning of myth comes from the various creation stories of groups of people who have used these stories to create a shared identity. The variation among creation myths is enormous, but the character of the myth can affect personal identity as well as that of the group. Myth creation is also an ongoing process so that as one group came to dominate another, new myths arose that legitimized the victors while often attempting to reconcile the vanquished by incorporating the useful parts of their mythology into that of the victors. Myth is also associated with social and gender hierarchies that typically legitimate the subordination of women.

In the 21st-century United States, myth still plays a powerful role in group identity and social relationships. “Race” becomes a key means of ascribing a particular identity to groups of people who may share elements of a certain physical appearance or originate from a particular location. African Americans bear particularly heinous historical baggage attached to the concept of race. In the book of Genesis, Noah cursed his son Ham’s descendants to be slaves. This myth was used by various European and Arab societies to justify their enslavement of Africans (Goldenberg 2005). While this direct connection to the Old Testament is not necessarily made today, the legacy of this pejorative view survives in ongoing discrimination against African Americans, who continue to be viewed by Whites and many Asians as mentally inferior, decadent, and criminal. These prejudices affect the daily life experiences of African Americans and members of other groups such as Latinos, Native Americans, South East Indians, and Arabs, whose brown skin or other physical attributes set them apart from White Europeans. Consequently, no matter how distinguished intellectually and socially an individual is, the impact of race in daily life is captured in this recent quote by an African American scientist about his experience in graduate school: “Your ethnicity is from society, it affects virtually all your experiences. It is part of American society, it is part of the consciousness of Americans. It influences the nature of your experience in

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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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