The practice of explaining the gender biasness in science generates arguments in a pattern. This review aims at focusing on the non- neutrality of science that bears social, cultural and economic connotations of masculinity. The articles hereby are selected to explore the biasness hidden in scientific language, visual representation, numerical representation of women in science and its discourse. First, a basic pattern for demonstrating what science is from a feminist perspective by using article by Susan Haacks, “Science from a Feminist Perspective” describing the relationship between feminism and science.
The article focuses on why there is lesser representation of women in the field of science or STEM subjects. The second reading by Vidita A. Vaidya “Towards a Narrative of Gender in the Biological Sciences”, which supports the argument of paucity in representation of women in science. Lastly, the article “The Egg and the Sperm- How Science has created a Romance based on stereotypical Male- Female Roles” supports the argument that the language used in science is biased and explains how socialisation and culture supports the gendering of science.
While talking about science studies, many questions come in our mind like “What is science”, what are the feature of science, what “makes” science, what methodology scientists use to investigate and discover about the world, are the methods used scientific or non- scientific (The use of experiments), how theories are constructed etc, how those theories are executed in text books, etc. All these questions are thought provoking. For some, science merely constitutes the study of subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics while for others, science goes beyond this and attempts to inquire and understand the world and surroundings we live in.
Oxford describes science as “knowledge about the structure and behaviour of the natural and physical world, based on facts that you can prove, for example by experiments”. Science just not consists of multiple fields, but is a body of knowledge, set of claims and social groups, sion, etc. And as there are many sciences, the disciplines that seek to explain and understand them are as many. (history, sociology, anthropology, psychology.) Any answer perspective of some one of these disciplines will, then, of necessity, partial. But when we think of who make science, we would think of scientists like Tesla, Isaac or CV Raman, but how many women scientists do we know? If we search for the top ten scientists in the world, we would just see one female scientists in the list. so is science biased towards certain gender or is science gender neutral, are there any conflicts between commitments to feminism and commitments to science.
The lens of feminist politics brings in a critic of science focusing on the masculinist distortions of the scientific enterprise. The whole connotation of science being masculine in character seems to be composed of several ideas. These ideas appear to be
1. Science, especially, mathematics and physics required certain talents in which men are way stronger than women.
2. Scientific methods demands traits like detachments, rational that are apparently the characteristics of men.
3. The present science is on certain kind of research that are “too manly” in nature, for example military application or mutation or atomic research.
If all of these were to be true just as popular notions have it then the question of under representation of women would have been answered. But it maybe urged that males are better at science than women are not just a popular stereotype. On the contrary, it is “fact” established by science. Now the question arises who investigated these facts? Who did a research and claimed such facts? Apparently, girls performed better than men in a recent mathematical and visual ability test that took place. The other aspect to this is if our social and cultural surroundings are a result of such stereotypes as women are an inferior competence than males? If women are provided will less equipped resources than men, this would still not justify this under representation because of their under abilities but because of less of resources. This extension applies to any minority that is underrepresented and leads to the view that it is poorly representative is because of opportunities. It would rather give an insight on how child raising is a hindrance on the development of women.
The question of what sort of abilities are required in science and then gendering of those abilities need to be considered. (Consider, for instance, J. D. Watson’s evaluation of the contribution made by Rosalind Franklin’s meticulous X-ray photography to the discovery of the structure of DNA-the discovery for which, after Franklin’s death, Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Nobel prize.) Who decides and checks for these abilities in science? Because of its success and contribution of knowledge to the world, Science has acquired great knowledge and prestige in the world, it has come to be supposed that science is sensitive to evidence, it has a peculiar way of finding out the truth. If that’s the case, how does science endorse racist and sexist prejudices instead of exposing them? The use of scientific methods to find out the truth is again problematic. Susan Haacks mentions that the “use of scientific methods” imply that there is a desirable sensitivity to evidence, however it is highly misleading because ‘actual science rarely lives up to the ideal’. What this means is that sometimes the theories that are accepted by science are based on personalities, propaganda, politics instead of the strength of evidence, and that is how racist and sexist theories have come to bear the authoritative hallmark of scientific.
This gap between ideal and actuality has several dangers. The unquestinability of public has allowed the capacity to accept and recognise the non- prejudice of science. The candid acknowledgement of the failures that take place in research are not given any importance making science a successful cognitive enterprise. However, all of its success is pretty imperfect as scientists fall short of impartiality and objective they ideally thought to manifest, leading us to the second argument that men are better suited to science than women: that science requires personality traits that are present in men and women lack them. This notons seems to rest on the idea that emotions and objectivity are opposite to each other, same as women are more emotional than men, both of which are not true. Here we raise the question if science needs empathy or emotions or objectivity is what is only the sole need of science. To this, Susan mentions that science does not have to be dispassionate or detached, on the contrary, the best works of science has been powered by curiosity and attachment. For the debate on emotion versus object, our culture plays an important role. Women since their childhood are asked to express their emotions, while men are asked to suppress their emotions (Men do not cry, or, stop crying like a women). Hence, the second argument seems to be a muddle for underrepresented.
The third component of the masculinity of science is he idea on which scientific research is concentrated are of less interest to women. Here we can look at why more women or girls choose humanities in higher studies than mathematics or stem subjects. The economic and social forces play an important here.
Science is a prestigious social institution which is powerful, where there are relatively few women scientist and fewer senior women scientist.
Clearly, patriarchy is a hindrance for women not only in society but also in practise of science. The practitioners or scientists also tend to have a patriarchal mindset and hence the values of patriarchy are carry out in their practises as well. Since science is claimed to be unbiased, we say that even the peractionaires of science are unbiased, rationale, and open to self correction. Scientist are human beings, they are brought up in the same patriarchal set and have imbibed the values of patriarchy within them. The society has set them at the top of the totem pole of rationality and fairness, so they are likely to escape the malaise of patriarchy.
The article “The egg and the sperm by Emily Martin”, Emily reviews about how culture and its discourse shape science by discussing about the gender stereotypes that are hidden in the texts of scientific discourse. She cites the example of how the picture of the egg and sperm are drawn in the popular belief and in scientific account of reproductive biology describing the stereotype central to the cultural definition of female (lazy, passive) and male (Active, aggressive). She further discusses about how menstruation in texts is seen as “debris” of the uterus lining indicating the unsalable and wasted disintegration of form. Eggs being produced as a single gamete in a month, sperms are seen as “remarkable mechanism of cellular transformation from spermatid to mature sperm” that are produced thousand in a day. So, it is actually the sperm that are being produced and wasted in the larger amount but texts see egg as a wastage. Textbook description of ovulation is also biased. While spermatogenesis is seen as a continuous production of fresh germ cells, ovulation is not celebrated enough as ovarian follicles containing ova are “present” in females at the time of birth.
The female organs are not spared from vivid description as well. One scientist describes ovaries as “worn out and old ripening eggs”. Some texts describe egg as feminine as it does not move but waits passively for sperm, manly and aggressive, to come and form zygote. The romantic relation of egg and sperm in some texts are even given a royal patina. The egg cover is said to be its “religious, sacred dress”, the corona it has is a crown. The sperm is given the title of a king. Another analogy for egg and sperm is given as that of Sleeping beauty where the dormant bride (egg) waits passively for the kiss of her mate (sperm) that brings life to her.
The visual representation shows how gender stereotypes are hidden in the diagrams. For example in “A Portrait of the Sperm”, a gigantic sperm is shown against the micrographs of sperm. Portrait symbolises power and strength, something very elite in nature. The “Portrait” of sperm associated with the power and strength of the heroic warrior to rescue the “tiny”, micrographic eggs as damsels in distress.
It is not just the culture that frame science, with change In times, new understandings of biology emerge where gender bias is being revised. However, instead of breaking these stereotypical representations, replication of biases are being showed in different forms. Herein, the active role of the egg was found out. Yet, in descriptions of these processes, sperms are shown as penetrating and binding in the egg “transforming the egg from passive to active party”. Even in cases which saw the complementary role of both the egg and the sperm, as in Wassarman’s, the sperm is correlated to a key while the egg is correlated to a lock. This clearly shows the bias of the researcher in wanting to portray a sort of a power relation between the two. Another way Martin problematizes Wassarman’s description is by pointing out how he refers to the sperm as a whole entity while the egg is described only in its components.
Hence, in each new account, even though the egg has been given a larger role, taken together, each research has brought into play a cultural stereotype. The most current one is how the active role of the egg is seen in a negative light; as “capturing” and “tethering”, much like the view of the female in society, as a dangerous and aggressive threat who victimizes men, as spread widely across literature and culture.
Emily further discusses the cybernation model which has the potential to relocate a positive image of egg. Here, the female reproduction system is seen responding to the environment. (Adjusting monthly cycles, pregnancy, menopause, shifting from puberty to non- productivity).
J. F. Hartman’s research explains the relationship of egg and sperm by elaborating on how sperm cannot get through the zona if the egg is killed by pricking a needle to it showing that egg and sperm interact on mutual terms and not because one is superior than the other. All the metaphors cited above amount amounts to, according to Martin, a direct implantation of social images into representations of nature which in turn are used as natural explanations for justifying such flawed social phenomena.
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