Thursday, 3 November 2011

Londa Schiebinger on gender in science

There was a talk at the physics department today by Londa Schiebinger, professor of history of science at Stanford University. I read a book of hers called Has Feminism Changed Science? as course literature in a course dealing with gender in science, and really liked it, so of course I had to go there. Her lecture was, in addition to informative and inspiring, above all hopeful. She gave a basic overview of ways to approach gender-related problems within science, and presented solutions that has been proven to work. All we need to do is to implement them. Not that this will magically create an equal society overnight, but it would teach people how to begin to see that there are huge biases in all kinds of unexpected places and situations. Not only within academia, but in society as a whole. The goal of feminism isn't to rid society of stereotypes. That would not only be unrealistic, but we, as human beings, simply would not function without them. The idea is rather to create awareness of that these stereotypes exists, so that they can be questioned and hopefully re-defined. A quote from the book mentioned above really nails the issue:

"Culture is about unspoken rules. Once we articulate those rules we can begin to reform them to meet new expectations and new needs."
— Londa Schiebinger (Has Feminism Changed Science?)

Oh well, I'll spare you a rant on feminism and gender studies and why I think this is important as hell for now. I just wanted to express my delight in meeting an awesome person whom I admire for a very good reason. I even got my book signed!

*fangirly squeal*

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