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AbstractThe practise of explaining the gender biasness in Paper

Words: 1246, Paragraphs: 17, Pages: 5

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Gender


The practise 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 connotatons of masculinity. The articles hereby are selected to explore the biasness hidden in scientific language, visual representation, numberical 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” decscribing the relationship between feminism and science. Second, 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. Lastly, the reading by Vidita A. Vaidya “Towards a Narrative of Gender in the Biological Sciences” will help us know about the paucity in representation of women in science.

Analysis Women’s under representation is reflective in science based studies.

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, is science biased towards certain gender or is science gender neutral, are there any conflicts between commitments to feminism and commitments to science, who are scientists, etc.

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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 decribes 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.

The lens of feminist politics brings in a critic of science focusing on the masculinist distortions of the scientific enterprise. The whole connotion 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 more 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 too be true then science would be portraying the interests of men and hence the question of under representation of women would have been answered.

Science is a prestigious social institution which is powerful, where there are relatively few women scientist and fewer senior women scientist.

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.

About the author

This sample essay is completed by Harper, a Social Sciences student. She studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. All the content of this paper is just her opinion on AbstractThe practise of explaining the gender biasness in and should not be seen as the way of presenting the arguments.

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