Do women do science differently? And how about feminists--male or female? The answer to this fraught question, carefully set out in this provocative book, will startle and enlighten every faction in the "science wars."
Has Feminism Changed Science? is at once a history of women in science and a frank assessment of the role of gender in shaping scientific knowledge. Science is both a profession and a body of knowledge, and Londa Schiebinger looks at how women have fared and performed in both instances. She first considers the lives of women scientists, past and present: How many are there? What sciences do they choose--or have chosen for them? Is the professional culture of science gendered? And is there something uniquely feminine about the science women do? Schiebinger debunks the myth that women scientists--because they are women--are somehow more holistic and integrative and create more cooperative scientific communities. At the same time, she details the considerable practical difficulties that beset women in science, where domestic partnerships, children, and other demanding concerns can put women's (and increasingly men's) careers at risk.
But what about the content of science, the heart of Schiebinger's subject? Have feminist perspectives brought any positive changes to scientific knowledge? Schiebinger provides a subtle and nuanced gender analysis of the physical sciences, medicine, archaeology, evolutionary biology, primatology, and developmental biology. She also shows that feminist scientists have developed new theories, asked new questions, and opened new fields in many of these areas.
The answer to the question posed by the title is "Yes, but not enough." Londa Schiebinger specializes in gender issues in science, and this is a synthesis of her earlier books, ranging through history to uncover the many women whose work has been overlooked, if not stolen, by male scientists over the centuries, as well as the women who have made a difference in fields as diverse as medicine, archeology and primatology...Schiebinger also offers a number of suggestions for change.
This is by no means a specialist or polemical book: on the contrary it courts a wide readership, offering a brilliant general picture of the development of science and the current state of play, seen through the frame of a feminist vision, which is at once celebratory and critical...Schiebinger's thoroughly accessible and informative writing, like a good public service radio program, draws people into areas they didn't know could interest them, and sends them away with ideas for further reflection.
In the past 30 years, feminists have produced major critiques of science...there have also been several modern histories of women scientists, new biographies, and numerous research studies of their recent career developments. Schiebinger's latest book is a summary to date of this body of knowledge...a very rich area of critical analysis.
Schiebinger's questions and conclusions should interest all veterinarians, since we are currently living through a dramatic-and much debated-alteration in the gender composition of our profession. Work such as Schiebinger's, although scholarly and not specific to veterinary medicine, helps us to think about our own professional transformation...Sciebinger's 'feminism' then, is a point of view that attacks narrowness in scientific thought and practice. She says that 'after a while, change builds on change.' Let us all work towards the day when we can answer the question 'has feminism changed veterinary medicine' with a resounding 'yes.'
- 276 pages
- 6 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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