Cover image for Has feminism changed science?
Has feminism changed science?
Schiebinger, Londa L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 252 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q130 .S29 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Do women do science differently? And how about feminists--male or female? The answer to this fraught question, carefully set out in this provocative book, will startle and enlighten every faction in the "science wars."Has Feminism Changed Science? is at once a history of women in science and a frank assessment of the role of gender in shaping scientific knowledge. Science is both a profession and a body of knowledge, and Londa Schiebinger looks at how women have fared and performed in both instances. She first considers the lives of women scientists, past and present: How many are there? What sciences do they choose--or have chosen for them? Is the professional culture of science gendered? And is there something uniquely feminine about the science women do? Schiebinger debunks the myth that women scientists--because they are women--are somehow more holistic and integrative and create more cooperative scientific communities. At the same time, she details the considerable practical difficulties that beset women in science, where domestic partnerships, children, and other demanding concerns can put women's (and increasingly men's) careers at risk.But what about the content of science, the heart of Schiebinger's subject? Have feminist perspectives brought any positive changes to scientific knowledge? Schiebinger provides a subtle and nuanced gender analysis of the physical sciences, medicine, archaeology, evolutionary biology, primatology, and developmental biology. She also shows that feminist scientists have developed new theories, asked new questions, and opened new fields in many of these areas.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Over the past two decades, there has been increased attention to the number of women in historically male-dominated scientific fields. Yet even as some in academia and government strive to expand opportunities for women in science, progress has been sluggish, eliciting theories about the cause that range from the biological to the cultural. In this important assessment of the topic, Schiebinger (The Mind Has No Sex?), a professor of the history of science at Pennsylvania State University, explores the history of women in science as well as the role gender has played in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Compelling and well researched, this history not only debunks many popular mythssuch as that women are better at soft sciencebut also provides a useful backdrop for Schiebingers next argument: that women have already changed the way that science itself is studied. Citing evidence from biology, medicine and anthropology, Schiebinger is persuasive and articulate in her argument, and honestly discusses the difficulty in accurately assessing the current situation because of the cultural, racial and social differences among the women she notes. What they do have in common, she says, are obstacles that keep them from getting tenure, raising a family painlessly and advancing as quickly as men in their chosen fields. In a hopeful and insightful finish, she suggests realistic changes for science, such as a reconsideration of sciences definitions, that would correct many imbalances and sweep away the cobwebs of sciences gender biases. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

The question posed by Schiebinger--one that many historians of science, women studies' students and scholars, and feminists have pondered, addressed, and written about--has never been so comprehensively treated, nor with such a command of the literature in medicine, primatology, archaeology, biology, physics, and mathematics. Scheibinger provides an excellent summary of the history of women in science, the role that gender has played in the actual theory and practice of science, and the ways in which the content of science has been modified by the presence of an increasing number of women who now are, in varying degrees, present in all of these sciences. Because the book is an overview, the treatment of all of these topics is necessarily sketchy: this is particularly pronounced in the historical chapters, where ten centuries (or more) are covered in ten pages. It is useful as an overview and as an introduction to the field, but as an analysis of the central question of whether or not women do science differently it falls short; there is more assertion than sustained argument. Brief and incomplete index; the bibliography unfortunately only lists those books for which there is not a full citation in the text. Undergraduates. M. H. Chaplin; Wellesley College

Table of Contents

Women in Science
Hypatia's Heritage
Meters of Equity
The Pipeline
Gender in the Cultures of Science
The Clash of Cultures
Science and Private Life
Gender in the Substance of Science
Primatology, Archaeology, and Human Origins
Physics and Math