Course Catalog

01:988:240 Gender and Science


What does gender have to do with science? What is science? Is science, by definition, the objective, value-neutral study of nature? What is participatory or phenomenological science? How do values related to gender affect the practice of science? In this course we will use a lecture/discussion format to cover material in feminist science studies in the areas of biology and psychology and their intersection. Alternative practices in science will be considered.

We will examine concepts of nature and objectivity, including examples of research in evolutionary biology and psychology, genetics, and sex/gender identity in psychology. Finally, we will move into new territory: the practice of science and what that practice involves in terms of values and self-critique. Examples of research will be discussed and critiqued.

Each student will carry out observations of a natural object/process and record their observations in a journal. Each week a thought question will be given; students choose one of these on which to write a short response and then to lead discussion on the topic. These questions are not the kind for which the answer is known – they are the sort that provoke thinking. Further, a short paper on the biography of a scientist relating the scientist’s work to the context of their life is required. There will also be two quizzes. The final requirement is a 15 page research paper detailing the student’s observations and relating them to relevant published scientific work, written according to APA style guidelines. Guest speakers, films, and literary sources will form part of the course.

Learning Goals:

Core Curriculum:

Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world.

Identify and critically assess ethical and societal issues in science.


Learn a method of observing natural phenomena and making a figural record of the observations.