Joy of Science Course Update

Thanks for all your initial interest and inquiries about the course. I thought maybe I'd better do a "going over the syllabus and answering some questions" post as a result. So here it is!

Books: The books needed for the course are posted on the syllabus. PLEASE NOTE THIS ADDITION TO WEEK 1 READING: Beyond Bias and Barriers:Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, NSF Report, Summary, pp. 1-10 (available free to read online; must pay to download).

I know the books are expensive, so not everybody can afford to buy them. If you have access to a university library you ought to be able to find most of them there, or possibly would be able to get them on inter-library loan if your own university library does not have them. If you are going to buy them, they'll take some time acquire, so I thought I'd better postpone the start of the course by a week to give people time to get hold of the books. So,

the course will now start on Monday, Feb. 12!

What does that actually mean? Monday, Feb. 12 is the first day that I will post reading summaries and analysis. You will all then be invited to post your comments and analysis on the same readings, or comments on my analysis of the readings. Or comments on other peoples' comments. "I'll give you a topic: gender and science. Discuss!"

The summaries I post will take a particular form, as described on the syllabus, "Theoretical Analysis":

The use of theoretical literature in scholarship requires understanding of the particular arguments and conclusions in the text, as well as of the larger literature and theoretical context in which a text is located. This Theoretical Analysis exercise is constructed to encourage students to scrutinize and present these dimensions of texts.

For each reading from The Gender and Science Reader and Building Inclusive Science, create a page that includes the following: a complete citation for the article under consideration, a one sentence summary of the article, and a paragraph of analysis (no longer than 200 words) in which you contextualize the article in relation to the course theme of pleasure and science.

The first week's readings all come from the following book:
The Gender and Science Reader ed. Muriel Lederman and Ingrid Bartsch, noted on the syllabus as "GSR". The readings are as follows:
GSR Section 1:

  • Eisenhart and Finkel, "Women (Still) Need Not Apply";
  • Brainard and Carlin, "A Six-Year Longitudinal Study of Undergraduate Women in Engineering and Science";
  • Silverman, "NSF Employment Study Confirms Issues Facing Women, Minorities";
  • Wenneras and Wold, "Nepotism and Sexism in Peer-Review";
  • Hubbard, "Science and Science Criticism";
  • Spanier, "How I Came to This Study";
  • Keller, "From Working Scientist to Feminist Critic".
  • A typical summary, or theoretical analysis, will look like this:

    Eisenhart, M. A. and Finkel, E. (2001). Women (Still) Need Not Apply. In Lederman, M. and Bartsch, I., (Eds.), The Gender and Science Reader, (pp. 13-23). London and New York: Routledge.

    One sentence summary
    The liberal critique of science and standard recommendations for compensatory strategies are unlikely to have the desired effect of increasing the number of women and minorities in science because they seek to attract individuals to a practice that does not reflect the interests and concerns of those individuals.

    Analysis (200 words): contextualize article in relation to pleasure and science.
    Boys and men, especially white males, already have access to a range of scientific experiences that most can or do experience as pleasurable. Attempts to draw more women, and men of color, into science by providing them access to these existing experiences are likely to fail. This is because science as it is currently taught and practiced does not reflect the interests and concerns of these out-group members. The nature of scientific practice and education must be changed, or at least opened up, to allow for a range of experiences and types of engagement that can be experienced as pleasurable by many different types of people. Women in engineering programs, and other kinds of compensatory strategies, cannot provide this kind of change; these efforts are aimed at getting women to measure up to existing group standards. Attracting and retaining more women or minorities cannot be achieved unless we question the nature of science itself - how it is shaped by who practices it, and the experiences and perspectives they bring to it. Evelyn Fox Keller's work offers one example of the kinds of questions we should be asking.

    To my best effort, this is an analysis of the authors' arguments, not my own arguments or opinions. Theoretical analyses should give blog readers who have not done the week's assigned reading a flavor for the texts under study that week. My own insights and commentary will come in a separate post and will be clearly marked as such.

    The syllabus describes "Group presentations"; these, of course, will not be happening. Blog comments will replace this, and I hope we will have good discussions through the comments. As I mentioned before, there will be no assigned papers, though I may do one myself at the end. If anybody wants to volunteer to do one, we can talk about working on that.

    Finally, I have been asked to put my course on the Women's Studies Wikiversity and I am looking into doing that. If/when I get that done, I will announce it on the blog.


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when I was first reading feminism in science it was all like this

gene worship-kaplan and rogers
biology as ideology-lewinton
Sex Gender and Science - myra hird
Same difference - barrett & rivers
the frailty Myth -collette dowling
sexing the body- anne fausto-sterling
myths of gender-anne fausto-sterling

I think this is becuase it was after the Larry Summers shit. I needed to articulate why his bulshit was scientifically unsound. At this time I also read an assload of evolutionary biology books and became a huge opponent of armchair evolutionary psychology. I thought your syllabus might be like that, but I can see that that is all step 0, convince yourself you are not crazy. Then we can proceed to step 1, call out the problem. Nice list.

By Carpenter (not verified) on 30 Jan 2007 #permalink