Gender and Science Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

gender have influenced the historic development of science in the west, as reason and science have long been seen as male traits. Similarly, gender ideals such as the characterization of females as maternal, associated with nature, irrational, and week have been reflected in scientific literature. Today, science continues to be influenced by ideas of gender, as literature reflects gender biases, and female scientists routinely must challenge gender biases.

Many of the ideals the influence the historic development science come from the Enlightenment, a time during the 17th and 18th centuries where reason was seen to be a driving force for progress. Enlightened men were rational, and sought happiness, knowledge, and freedom. Given this emphasis on rationality, and the association of women with the home and emotion, women were largely excluded from the ideals of the Enlightenment. The rational affairs of humankind were thought to be left to men, who acted according to intellect and reason, where women were seen as driven more by baser instincts such as emotion.

As science continued to develop, Victorian gender norms began to influence the development of science. During the Victorian era, clearly defined female and male gender norms were present. Ideals of womanhood were piety, purity and subservience, while males were seen a self-restraint, genteel manners and emotional self-restraint. In time, these ideals of gender norms were subtly changed, as the ideal of manliness began to incorporate that of rugged individualism, hard work, and aggressiveness.

It is in these Enlightenment and Victorian ideas of gender norms that the idea of a dichotomy is clearly seen. During these times, men were seen as rational and strong, and thus women were defined as the opposite, irrational and weak.

These gender norms reveal a great deal about the importance of gender identity in culture. Further, it is important to note that gender, rather than sex, has historically defined male and female roles in Western society. Sex is simply the physiological differences that determine male or female (such as facial hair, genitalia, and so on). As such, the association of social concepts with sex is societal and cultural, and not necessarily determined by nature.

Londa Schiebinger, in Why Mammals are Called Mammals reveals how deeply these gender issues have influenced the development of science. Even the basic categorization of the animal kingdom, which lies at the very heart of modern biology, reveals these gender politics argues Schiebinger. It was gender politics that led " addresses the gender politics that led to Linnaeus's careful choice of the…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Martin, Emily. 1991. The egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles. Signs 16:3, 485-501.

Schiebinger, Londa. 1993.

Why Mammals Are Called Mammals. In: Nature's Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science. Beacon Press, 40-74.

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