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Gender and science

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q040-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Gender-based analyses of philosophies of science have arisen at the conjunction of two other movements. First, in the 1960s it became increasingly the accepted position that scientific claims failed to reflect only an external reality. Scientific processes are not transparent; they necessarily permit cultural and social values and interests to contribute to the descriptions and explanations of nature’s order. Thus gender values and interests, too, could have shaped scientific practices and claims. Second, women’s movements developed powerful gender analyses of all other aspects of social relations. What resources could such accounts provide to illuminate also the practices and cultures of the sciences?

Consequently, diverse analyses have appeared showing how sexist and androcentric values and interests have shaped scientific projects, and shaped them with unfortunate results not only for gender relations, but also for the advance of both sciences and philosophy. They also examine how other values and interests, ones that are gender-neutral and ones that draw on resources found in women’s lives, can have beneficial effects. Concern has been raised in the following issues. Is correcting ‘bad science’ sufficient to eliminate sexist and androcentric results of research? How has the exclusion of women from those groups that select what will count as scientific problems resulted in narrow and distorted representations of nature’s order? How has excessive reliance on gendered meanings of nature, the scientist, and scientific method – gender coding – shaped scientific claims? If the subject of science remains coded masculine, how can women claim positions as speakers/authors of scientific research – as scientific subjects? In what ways have research procedures (technologies) been gender-coded and how has their use directed the development of subsequent sexist and androcentric technologies and applications of science? Why have standards for maximizing objectivity and good method been too weak to prevent knowledge-decreasing values and interests from shaping the results of research?

Citing this article:
Harding, Sandra G.. Gender and science, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q040-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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