Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Feminist Approaches to Science

Book: Feminist Approaches to Science, edited by Ruth Bleier

Published: 1986

Description: A collection of essays looking at feminist theory and how it relates to science, how science is practiced, and how it can improve scientific thought. (My description)

Perhaps I should begin by stating that I am not a feminist. I simply read part of this book for a class, was intrigued, and checked it out so I could read the rest of it.

I thought this was a really, really good book. It was very thought-provoking. The whole idea behind this book was the critique science from a feminist perspective. I don't totally identify with such a perspective, but they did raise many very good points about problems that existed when the book was written (1986) and, I would argue, are still problems today. Their ultimate point was that science is not practiced in a vacuum. Scientists are not somehow perfect and without bias as they practice science. Scientists are influenced by the society around them, by racism, sexism, classism, whatever, and this affects how they interact with their work and with other scientists or would-be scientists. I found their argument interesting both because it's something that science today still needs to hear, and because it applies not just to women in science and how they're treated, but how all of science is done and how that applies to arguments about creationism (something I'm always interested in). 

I had one major critique of this book: Authors seemed to argue both that men and women are exactly the same and should be treated as such, and that women have a different perspective and way of thinking than men and therefore perform science differently. I believe this was partly caused by the different authors of the essays, but it is definitely a problem in their logic.

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