Common Science?: Women, Science, and Knowledge

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Indiana University Press, 1998 - Science - 165 pages
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"Science is everywhere yet it has nothing to do with me." That sense of science - of being both inside and outside at the same time - is one shared by many of the women interviewed by the authors. While science and technology permeate our lives, for most women and many men, scientific knowledge is outside their experience. Science remains largely unaccountable to the public who pay for it. Common Science confronts the issues of democratizing science and women's exclusion from scientific knowledge, viewing these as fundamentally feminist questions. Surveying the wide range of initiatives designed to encourage women and minorities into scientific training, the book points out that these tend to perceive women and minorities as the problem; science itself is rarely questioned. From the perspective of feminist critiques, science and how it is taught may well be part of the problem. Common Science is written by two feminists working in adult and higher education. Although the authors come from different academic backgrounds - one from biological science, the other from philosophy and social science - both share experiences of working in women's studies. The stand point of the book is that the usual approach to the absence of women from science fails most women and that while academic feminist critiques of science and science education are important, more attention has to be paid to what non-academic women think and feel about science. This book begins to fill that gap. Drawing on their own research with women in adult and community education in Britain, the authors explore what women outside the academy think about science, how these understandings might be shaped by their different experiences (grounded in class, race, and age, for example) and what they might contribute to any educational project. Questions such as these are the starting point for their attempts to develop feminist pedagogy around science in the community. Some of the themes in the book are central to many feminist approaches to education. But feminists tend to stand outside science. It is a central argument of the book that it cannot afford to do so. Standing outside science or adopting an anti-science stance, as some feminist writing does, is simply not an option. We are all inside science. It affects us all.
 

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Contents

Appendix
141
Notes
149

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About the author (1998)

Jean Barr co-ordinates postgraduate courses in adult and continuing education at Glasgow University where she also teaches courses in the philosophy of social science and in feminist education. She has written on educational policy and practice for several international publications.
Lynda Birke is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at University of Warwick and a biologist, who has written extensively on feminism and science. She is the co-editor of Reinventing Biology and author of Feminism, Animals and Science, and Women, Feminism and Biology.

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