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

By Sue V. Rosser | Go to book overview

Race, Postcolonial Gender,
and Science

JOSEPHINE BEOKU-BETTS

Feminist discourse on race, postcolonial (particularly after 1940–1960 when European colonization of non-White societies ended) gender, and science accommodates a vast array of disciplines and contesting perspectives. Essentially, the interconnectedness of racism, colonialism, and globalization, along with their impact on women and gender, set a context for understanding the concerns, priorities, and contributions of feminist scholarship on the subject. Drawing on Black, postcolonial, and postcolonial science feminist studies, this paper discusses the meanings and understandings they bring to the subject and briefly reviews the contributions of key theorists within each category. None of these perspectives is mutually exclusive. They all share the common epistemological goal of integrating the experiential with the analytical and of developing a transformative scholarship and political agenda.

Underlying much of the discourse on postcolonial gender and science are notions of racial difference that are embedded in Eurocentric beliefs about the biological, intellectual, and cultural inferiority of formerly colonized nonWhite peoples. While there is no scientific validity to these beliefs, representations of race difference based on binary divisions were used by Western scientists, particularly in the 19th century, to legitimize colonization of nonWhite societies. These beliefs are still prevalent in the ways popular culture portrays people of color, in the racial and cultural biases inherent in mea surements used for intelligence testing, and in race and gender discrimination experienced by women and men of color who pursue training in the sciences. Black feminist theorists challenge the historical impact that such racist notions have had on non-White—especially Black—women since the beginning of colonialism. A noted example of scientific racism is the case of Sarah Bartman. A South African woman of Khoi Khoi descent, her body was denigrated in displays of her genitalia and buttocks in numerous exhibitions in Europe during the 19th century. Dehumanized and objectified, she was used to exemplify the racial, sexual, and physical inferiority of Africans and to normalize the White female body. Under slavery and colonialism, Black women

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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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