Biology & feminism: a dynamic interaction

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Twayne Publishers, 1992 - Social Science - 191 pages
The link between biology and feminism is well established in history. Even as recently as the nineteenth century, preeminent men of science employed skewed biological theorizing to explain the disadvantaged position of women in our society. These male scientists argued that women are mentally inferior to men by design of evolution. They erroneously "proved" that the female of the human species has a relatively smaller brain than the male, attributing this "difference" to the fact that the energy that women use to reproduce is drawn off at the expense of their intellectual development. At odds with nineteenth-century feminist critics, men such as Freud, Darwin, Broca, and Spencer did not assign the supposed inferiority of women to such factors as their decreased access to education, believing instead that tangible biological differences subjugated women to men. In the latter part of the twentieth century we again see a link between biology and feminism that expresses itself through women's health issues, reproductive rights, and ecofeminism. In Biology and Feminism: A Dynamic Interaction, Sue V. Rosser offers an intriguing explanation of the possible bias of biological theories. Rosser maintains that the modern scientific method, accepted as objective and factual, may instead be colored by the values and assumptions of the traditional, male scientist. Her study offers critiques of the traditional scientific research method from the viewpoint of a number of different feminist theories. Rosser also details the contribution of several eminent women of science, past and present, to illustrate the impact of feminism on biological theories, and points out that ironically, biology has had amuch greater impact on feminism than feminism has had on biology. Finding that the standard methods of teaching biology have changed little, Rosser presents models for transforming curricula. Her proposed changes aim to identify and correct unconscious biases and teach student store spect differences. Embracing a wide range of studies, this innovative and thoughtful commentary will be of use to biology, health sciences, women's studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and history students alike.

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Critiques of Research in Cellular
Feminist Methodologies

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About the author (1992)

Sue V. Rosser is dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and a professor of history, technology, and society at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her most recent book is The Science Glass Ceiling.

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