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Women in Science

Linnea Ista lkista at UNM.EDU
Fri Feb 21 11:05:49 EST 1997

On Fri, 21 Feb 1997, Mr. W.Y. Chan wrote:

> Cynthia M. Galloway (c-galloway at TAMUK.EDU) wrote:
> : I am scheduled to teach an undergraduate seminar course next fall and I get
> : to pick the topic.  The students would all be Biology seniors and the class
> : is for 1 unit of credit.  Usually the class involves students giving oral
> : presentations over a topic, or going through a book, chapter by chapter,
> : with each student leading the discussion on the chapter.  I thought it might
> : be interesting to get a book on Women in Science and their discoveries and
> : follow past formats.  I was a little hesitant about having such a topic with
> : both male and female students in the class so, I asked some of my male
> : advisees what they thought about the idea and it was 100% against!  They
> : said maybe if the women talked about women and the men talked about men it
> : would be okay but, they still didn't like the idea.  Some of the opposition
> : is cultural but, I am even more in support of doing something on this topic
> : since getting a resounding thumbs down from the male students.  
> : Any comments???
> : Cyndy
> My friend, who is a woman, was once a feminist long before the sixties
> but her wisdom has changed over the years and I find myself agreeing
> to her opinions regarding equality. Well recently her son was studying
> for a business course and one of the subject he has to do is "Women in
> Business Management", well she reacted angrily, to our surprise, because
> part of the idea of that particular subject was to understand and promote
> women's place in management, but her opinion was "why on earth should
> women be made a "special case", by doing so meants women has difficulty
> becomming boss and therefore needs help" and equally she thinks no
> attention are paid to men and male needs.
BAsed on your past comments I would not expect you to be friends with an 
active feminist. I too have met women like the one you describe. Almost 
universally they are well off because they have married a man who can 
support them and do not have to face the day to day crap that the rest of 
us do and are being in effect financially rewarded for not being a 
feminist. It has nothing to do with wisdom and everything to do with 
being rewarded for finally "learning their place".

> I do not think it is particularly fair to both men and women if one gender
> is targeted for attention, perhaps you can teach on the first week
> "Men is Science" and the next week "women in Science", that way all your
> student can see both sides of the wall.
The point of teaching about women in science is so that students can see 
both sides of the wall. Traditional teaching of science *is* "Men in 
Science" and ignores the contributions of women and the organized 
opposition during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance to us 
participating at all. One of the questions that had come up earlier on 
the list is why women's participation in science is low. Part of the 
reason is that women were actively discouraged. The French Academy, for 
example, debated whether women be allowed to join at its inception, and 
decided not to. Ditto with the London Royal Society. This is despite 
active participation of women in scholarly scientific pursuit at the 
time. If you want a really good, although somewhat (IMHO) dry book on the 
subject I would suggest Londa Schiebinger's "The Mind Has No Sex?". 


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