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

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Biologists Who Study
Gender/Feminism

MARY WYER

In the heyday of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s, professors and students at universities challenged major assumptions and paradigms of academic disciplines that had marginalized and/or excluded women’s lives as valid subjects of study. These challenges pointed to an “invisible curriculum” that reinforced the social, economic, and political power of men over women. In tandem with these efforts, a small cadre of biologists began to explore the ways in which scientific perspectives promoted the inequality of women by fostering myths about women’s abilities and interests. Seven women have been especially important to the development of feminist perspectives on science inside and outside of academia. These seven biologists identified and articulated in scholarly detail the myths upon which the “invisible curriculum” rested, targeting in particular the claim that biological sex differences in intellectual ability and interests favor men and disadvantage women. By the 1980s, these scientists had combined their commitments to objectivity and feminism to provide a uniquely informed perspective on scientific research that launched a major national debate about objectivity in science. Though each author has offered a distinct theoretical perspective and scope of work, their collective contribution has been to demonstrate that biological knowledge about humans—women’s bodies, health and medicine, neurobiology, reproduction, sexuality, and sex differences—is shaped by, and shapes, society (Longino 1990; Rose 1994). Pioneering contributors to this approach include Linda Birke, Ruth Bleier, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ruth Hubbard, Evelyn Fox Keller, Sue Rosser, and Bonnie Spanier. More recently, Patricia Gowaty has made significant contributions. Many other scholars from inside and outside of biology have developed theory and research in feminist science studies. However, this small group of women are notable as biologists who applied their scientific expertise to elaborating specific topics, approaches, and arguments about women’s biology, intellectual abilities, experiences, and education.

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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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