Women, Science, and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies / Edition 2

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Overview

Women, Science, and Technology is an ideal reader for courses in feminist science studies, science studies more generally, women’s studies, and studies in gender and education. This second edition fully updates its predecessor, dropping ten readings and replacing them with new ones that:

  • extend content coverage into areas not originally included, such as reproductive, agricultural, medical and imaging technologies
  • reflect new feminist theory and research on biology, language, the global economy and the intersection of race and class with gender
  • provide current statistical information about the representation of women and people of colour in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
  • are more accessible for students.

Section introductions have also been fully updated to cover the latest controversies, such as Harvard president Lawrence Summers’ widely debated discussion about women and science and the current debates surrounding reports on the low numbers of female engineers.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"This reader provides a clear and exciting introduction to main themes in the last several decades of research on women, gender, and science. The editors create a safe space for students to explore the most controversial issues facing sciences and societies today. The editorial essays review and clarify complex issues for students in the sciences as well as in other fields. This is a fine teaching collection."
--Sandra Harding, Professor of,Education and Women's Studies, UCLA

"Here comes a fine introduction to feminist studies in science and technology . . . .Rich in case studies and theoretical analyses, with helpful contextualizing essays by the editors, it will be an excellent text for use in both Women's Studies and Science Studies courses."
--Helen E. Longino, Professor of Women's Studies and Philosophy, University of Minnesota

"This volume brings together new and classic essays in feminist, studies. The introductory essays provide a wonderful perspective on the challenges of doing work in this field which will be invaluable to both students and teachers."
--Eveiynn M. Hammonds, Associate Professor of the History of Science, MIT

From the Publisher
I have taught the First Edition many times, and am looking forward to teaching this even better collection. My students have always been astonished and excited to think about women, gender, science and technology with these first-rate accounts. The additions to this Second Edition are superb; they promise to stimulate thought-provoking class discussions. – Sandra Harding, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

This revised and updated volume has increased its utility for women and SET courses by adding much needed information about the impacts of technology on women's lives and by including chapters that examine global SET issues. The editors' introductions to each section put the chapters in a broader, societal context. This book is useful both as a college textbook and as a valuable resource for scholars, SET faculty who want to recruit and retain women in their courses and majors, and administrators who desire a deeper understanding of the issues. — Carol J. Burger, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

For professors looking for materials to complement curricular offerings in the cultural studies of science or literature and science, this volume provides a foundational, engaging, and very teachable account of the historical and sociological understanding of the intersection of women, science, and technology. In addition to essays on female Nobel Prize winners, the development of contraceptives and the vibrator, and the role of sexuality, ethnicity and race in the practice of science and technology, the volume pays welcome attention to agriculture, which is sure to become a major focus of science studies work in this new century. – Susan M. Squier, Brill Professor of Women's Studies and English, The Pennsylvania State University

The consequences of being female in disciples initially designed by and for males significantly affect the career opportunities and paths for many women striving to contribute their full talents. These reports illuminate culturally embedded challenges, validate experiences and inform strategies to accelerate our achievements. – Sherra E. Kerns, F. W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Olin College

This second edition of Women, Science, and Technology is an excellent introduction to the range of issues that travel under the rubric of gender, science, and technology. By juxtaposing classic with newer essays, it once again demonstrates the depth and growth of this interdisciplinary field. — Helen Longino, Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

"In its second edition (1st ed., 2001) Women, Science and Technology provides and updated, more accessible resource for students...this is a significantly improved edition that is valuable for university collections." Choice, January 2009

From The Critics
Reviewer: Barbara J. Becker, PhD (University of California Irvine)
Description: This collection of essays, written by a wide range of professional women over a period of nearly 25 years (1974 - 1998), offers a long view of the feminist perspective on women in science and technology in the late twentieth century.
Purpose: The editors aim to make work in feminist analyses of science more accessible to undergraduates and readers new to the subject. Their goal is to communicate to scientists and science students the need to both critically examine the political, social, and economic forces behind their research, and to participate in the dialogues that shape scientific research and technological development. These goals are largely met in the stimulating and often provocative content of the selected essays that explore gender-based factors that influence students' academic and career choices, create and sustain stereotypes, construct social identity, define and interpret natural phenomena, and establish public policy.
Audience: Many in the target audience:those unfamiliar with feminist literature and ideology, or untutored in the external factors that informed the development of today's feminist perspective:may require more contextual guidance to derive meaning from the content. The editors provide some of this guidance in their introductions to each of the book's five sections and in the appendix. However, all would benefit from prefatory remarks setting each essay in its proper time and place.
Features: Several authors critique data, interviews, or material produced years earlier. In "The Medical Construction of Gender...," the author analyzes interviews conducted in 1985 with medical specialists who based their treatment of infants born with ambiguous genitalia on then-accepted theories of sex and gender identity. These theories, criticized as unnatural when first introduced in the 1950s and assimilated into medical school curricula by the 1970s, are questioned here as outdated and inappropriate. Specialists' careers may span attitudinal shifts of seismic proportions. Long-term treatment can exceed the life of any currently held view on "best" practice. Absent context and temporal fluidity in professional and popular attitudes toward science theory and practice frustrates ingenuous readers' efforts at objective interpretation. In "Nine Decades, Nine Women, Ten Nobel Prizes...," the author repeats a common popular misconception that Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel prize for his work on special relativity, an error that may cause alert readers to question the factual accuracy of the essay as a whole. The author's portrayal of Einstein's wife, Mileva Maríc, as prime mover in developing ideas for which he alone received credit ignores recent scholarship on the extent and nature of their collaborative work.
Assessment: Although the essays in the collection are uneven in quality, they will surely spark enthusiastic classroom discussion and debate. I hope that subsequent editions of the book are laid out with more generous margins. The content invites active reader response, but the scant space surrounding the text on each page leaves room for only the most cryptic of jottings.
Booknews
Researchers and practitioners, mostly in the social and biological sciences, and philosophers and historians of science explore the gendering of science and the impact women scientists are making around the world. Personal accounts and studies of sciences themselves address such topics as the under- representation of women in science, reproductive technology, sociobiology, evolutionary biology, and the notion of objective science. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415960397
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 5/29/2008
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Wyer is Assistant Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies at North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

Mary Barbercheck is Professor of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University.

Donna Cookmeyer is Associate Director of the Office of Licensing Ventures at Duke University.

Hatice Örün Öztürk is Teaching Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Marta L. Wayne is Associate Professor in the Department of Zoology at University of Florida, Gainesville.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction: Science and Feminism

Since the emergence of women's studies initiatives in academia in the 1980s and 1990s, there has been a steady stream of challenges to the received wisdom of the humanities and social sciences. By placing women at the center of analysis, by asking the simple question: "What about women?" researchers revealed the ways in which the grounding assumptions in a variety of disciplines excluded women. In the fields of literary studies, history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology, the exclusion of women as subjects of study mattered. It mattered because the interesting questions, grounding assumptions, and accepted answers all changed once women were brought into the picture. The fields grew, in short, as a result of including women as subjects of study.

Many science and engineering fields have been untouched by these developments. There are several reasons for this: (1) Where the subject matter does not include any people, the absence of women as subjects of study may seem irrelevant. (2) In disciplines where there are few or no women in a position to promote change, there are few who have a vested interest in challenging the status quo. (3) Scientists and engineers do not usually have the training to consider the social dynamics that have shaped their fields, and so most assume that scientific perspectives are necessarily "objective" and outside the influence of these dynamics. (4) Most women's studies scholars come from the humanities and social sciences, so their work does not address or challenge issues in the physical, biological, or engineering sciences. (5) Whatever their discipline, faculty evaluations of their peers tend to reinforce disciplinary boundaries by demanding that research and teaching address discipline-specific questions. Those who focus on women's lives must cross these institutionally determined boundaries, leaving themselves vulnerable to criticism from colleagues and the institution.

This book is our attempt to begin breaching those boundaries to help ensure that readers have the knowledge and perspectives they need to participate fully in the research, teaching, and public-policy decision-making of the twenty-first century. To the extent that women continue to be second-class citizens socially, economically, and politically, the issue of our access to training and expertise in scientific and technological fields has renewed urgency in the face of the growing centrality of these fields in a global economy. The belief that scientific and feminist perspectives are incompatible contributes to a persistent ignorance about the importance of scientific and technological innovations in shaping the conditions of women's lives, the limitations of research and teaching that exclude women, and the talents and abilities of women in science and engineering. It is our goal to confront this ignorance.

The Scientific Method

We generally think of scientific perspectives as true, as factual. They are assumed to be perspectives untainted by political considerations. They produce reliable and complete knowledge that we can use with predictable results. In a world full of uncertainties, facts and truth lead us to clarity and understanding. In contrast, we often think of feminist perspectives in quite different terms. Feminist perspectives create knowledge that challenges what we take for granted to be true and factual. Feminist knowledge provokes change. It encourages us to ask new questions about how to understand the world around us. Feminists are often accused of being politically biased, of creating knowledge that is not purely "objective." What could these two perspectives-feminist and scientific-possibly have in common? We argue that they share many commitments, including an emphasis on understanding the social and physical worlds in which we live, and on striving toward more complete descriptions of those worlds.

What is science, exactly? What sets science apart from any other way to gather information or explain how something works? How do we differentiate between scientific knowledge and nonscientific knowledge? Everyone has some notion of what science is and what scientists do. If we were to watch a group of people working in a laboratory while they were dissecting animals and arguing about their data, and if we knew nothing of science, we might describe them naively like this:

Perhaps these animals are being processed for eating. Maybe we are witnessing oracular prophecy through the inspection of rat entrails. Perhaps the individuals spending hours discussing scribbled notes and figures are lawyers. Are the heated debates in front of the blackboard part of a gambling contest? Perhaps the occupants of the laboratory are hunters of some kind, who, after patiently lying in wait by a spectrograph for several hours, suddenly freeze like a gun dog fixed on a scent.

However, most of us have had some exposure to images of real or imagined scientists in television, movies, and advertising. Yet most scientists do not spend their days in the jungle searching for plants that cure cancer or jungle fever (as in the movie Medicine Man), genetically engineering dinosaurs (as in the movie Jurassic Park), or trying to communicate with extraterrestrial allies (as in the movie Contact). So what do ordinary scientists do that defines their activity as science? Most scientists would define science as an approach called the scientific method. The scientific method encompasses the procedures and principles regarded as necessary for scientific investigation and the production of scientific knowledge. The scientific method is actually quite simple in concept and is made up of the following steps:

1. Observations are made of objects or events, either natural or produced by experimentation. From these observations a falsifiable hypothesis is developed.

2. The hypothesis is tested by conducting repeatable experiments.

3. If the experiments refute the hypothesis, it is rejected, and new hypotheses are formulated.

4. Hypotheses that survive are condensed into generalized empirical relationships, or laws.

5. Laws are synthesized into larger theories that explain the nature of the empirical relationships and provide a conceptual framework for understanding how the natural world operates.

Ideally, then, the facts of nature are uncovered by a stepwise winnowing-out of inadequate hypotheses and refinement of the remaining hypotheses. The explanations or facts that remain are considered true until someone is able to falsify them using the scientific method. Therefore, ideally, scientists must be prepared to abandon or alter hypotheses, laws, and theories when new knowledge contradicts them. However, as readers will learn, science does not always proceed in this idealized way. The major questions in feminist analyses of science concern the degree to which the scientific method ensures that the knowledge produced is unbiased and untouched by the social or political commitments of the researchers...

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Table of Contents

I. High Hopes, Broken Promises, and Persistence: Educating Women for Science and Engineering Careers II. Stereotypes, Rationality, and Masculinity III. Technologies Born of Difference: How Ideas about Women and Men Shape Science and Technology IV. The Next Generation: Bringing Feminist Perspectives into Science and Technology Studies V. Reproducible Insights: Women Creating Knowledge, Social Policy, and Change with Elizabeth Adams and Jennifer Schneider

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