Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism May 20, 2013

Filed under: academia,awards,bias,discrimination,history,science,women in academia — David Slutsky @ 4:25 am

6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism (by Jane J. Lee, 5/19/13, for National Geographic Daily News)
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“Despite enormous progress in recent decades, women still have to deal with biases against them in the sciences.”
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“…Today’s women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—’until it hits them in the face’.” Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.

Here are six female researchers who did groundbreaking work—and whose names are likely unfamiliar for one reason: because they are women…”


Just some of (unfortunately many,) many relevant FP posts:

Minimal Posters – Six Women Who Changed Science. And The World.

Lost Women of Science

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

 

Athene Donald on unconscious bias April 7, 2013

Filed under: bias,science,women in academia — jennysaul @ 1:47 pm

A fantastic post.. The newest bit to me was this one:

The most recent study I came across, entitled The Matilda Effect in Science Communication: An Experiment on Gender Bias in Publication Quality Perceptions and Collaboration Interest looked at the responses of ‘243 young communication scholars’ when asked to rate some (carefully manipulated) conference abstracts. (The Matilda effect was a phrase coined by Margaret Rossiter 20 years ago to describe the systematic underrecognition of women in science.) The abstracts’ topics and authors were varied to see how the readers reacted and to test a series of hypotheses relying on ‘role congruity’. This theory says that a group (or in this case, an abstract) will be positively evaluated when its characteristics are recognized as aligning with that group’s typical social roles. So a paper written by women about a subject ‘appropriate’ to their gender, such as the effect of media on children (remember this was a project involving science communicators), will be more highly rated than one written by women on an ‘inappropriate’ topic such as political communication.

Their hypotheses were largely borne out; on average the papers written by ‘men’ were perceived as of higher quality than those written by ‘women’, and even more so if stereotypically male topics were being written about. The respondents were also more likely to want to collaborate with the males on stereotypically ‘male’ topics and with the women on those topics associated with women. These trends were the same irrespective of the respondents own gender. The differences in evaluations were not large, but as earlier studies have shown, small effects multiply up over time; this is true of salaries and it is true of less tangible attributes such as recognition or collaboration opportunities.

But do check out the whole post. There’s also a great example of some biased letter-writing. (Thanks, J!)

 

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin February 20, 2013

Filed under: bias,science — Jender @ 9:52 am

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“Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know.”

~ Jeremy Knowles

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a truly extraordinary woman. (Thanks, J!)

 

Oppressive beliefs and breast size preference February 17, 2013

Filed under: beauty,objectification,psychology,science — hippocampa @ 12:37 pm

A recent study showed that White British heterosexual men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women (Viren Swami and Martin J. Toveé, 2013).

Since the article isn’t open access, I will briefly summarise what they did and found, which will inevitably leave out things that are also relevant and noteworthy, but ok:

Small breast sizeLarge breast sizeBased on self-reports, they selected a sample of 361 males of Britisch White descent, who didn’t indicate being gay or bisexual or didn’t disclose their preference (average age 30, ranging from 18 to 68). Those were asked to rate the attractability of photo-realistic 3D models that were rotated on the screen. I copied and pasted from the article the model with the smallest breast size out of five on the left, and the one with the largest on the right so you get a bit of an idea. In the study they were presented in colour. After having rated the models, the participants were asked to fill in questionnaires that measure sexist attitudes (Hostility Towards Women Scale HTWS, Attitudes Towards Women Scale AWS and Benevolent Sexism BS subscale of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory ASI) and that measure objectification of women (an adaptation of the Self-Objectification Scale SOS).

What they found was that on average men found the medium breast size model most attractive, with a skewed distribution towards the larger breast size, which seems unsurprising. The men’s preference for larger breast sizes was significantly and positively correlated with hostility towards women, more sexist attitudes towards women, benevolent sexism and objectification of women. They also found that young men were more likely to rate large breasts as more attractive. Neither education nor relationship status had an effect. Benevolent sexism was the strongest predictor for breast size rating, while objectifaction of women and hostility towards women were also significant predictors.

Some highlights from the discussion which I thought were noteworthy:

“[...] insofar as breasts are an index of a gendered difference between women and men, benevolently sexist men may perceive larger breasts as ‘‘appropriate’’ for feminine women; in other words, in the view of benevolently sexism men, a feminine and submissive woman is likely to be someone with large breasts.”

“Based on this set of results, it might be argued that it is the tendency to view women in ways that are subjectively positive for the perceiver rather than to explicitly denigrate women that drives men’s breast size preferences. Of course, both types of sexism stem from issues relating to power, gender identity, and sexuality, and it should also be noted thatbenevolent sexism may also serve to justify hostile attitudes toward women (Glick&Fiske, 1996).”

“Our results also showed that a greater tendency to objectify women was associated with a greater likelihood of rating larger breasts as physically attractive. Previous scholars have argued that, in many socioeconomically developed societies, female breasts have become an important site of objectification of the femalebody (Seifert,2005;Wardetal.,2006). This is evidenced, for example, in media aimed at hegemonic masculinities (Gerald & Potvin, 2009), where large female breasts are fetishized and treated as sexual objects that fulfill the pleasures and desires of masculine men. In this view, the objectification of women’s body parts, including though not limited to their breasts, is an example of the dominance of men over women and is further reproduced through cultural expectations of heteronormativity (Martino & Pallotta-Chiarolli, 2005). Moreover, this normalization compels women to put up with the objectification of their breasts and bodies by men, and even to treat such objectificationas flattering (Pascoe, 2007).”

They acknowledge a number of shortcomings in the research, such as the models all having the same face and waist-to-hip ratio and such, and all the breasts being the same shape. They further indicate the rather standard issues with recruitment method of the participants that might limit the generalisability (if that’s a word) and the possibility of socially desirable responding.

“In summary, the results of the present study showed that men’s oppressive beliefs predicted their idealization of larger female breasts. These results may have important implications for contemporary theorizing of breast size preferences. In addition to considering the distal evolutionary pressures that led to men’s breast size preferences, our findings also highlight the importance of considering the proximate sociocultural context in which thosejudgments aremade (cf. Little, Jones, DeBruine, & Caldwell, 2011). Specifically, it seems clear that the lived experiences of women and men in contemporary societies, and particularly their gendered relations with one another, will have a major impact on their beauty ideals and practices (Forbes et al., 2007).More broadly, future research would do well to more carefully consider the ways in which such beauty ideals shape and maintain gendered divisions in contemporary societies.

Fascinating.

 

Men and women basically the same February 7, 2013

Filed under: gender,science — Jender @ 2:10 pm

From here.

What’s remarkable about all this is not that men and women have so much in common but that these commonalities persist despite relentless gender policing that usually involves quite a bit of shame. Men face ridicule if they’re perceived as having female-like levels of empathy and concern for their friends, and yet, according to the study, they overcome it. Women are routinely told there’s something wrong with them if they have “masculine” attitudes towards sex and men are emasculated if they aren’t horny all the time or if they desire intimacy alongside their sexual adventures, and yet both genders tend to have a mix of adventurousness and tenderness when it comes to sex. We’re constantly being put in gender silos, and yet, apparently, we keep escaping. (Go us!)

 

Overly honest methods January 26, 2013

Filed under: science — jennysaul @ 6:48 pm

Check it out. (Wonder if something like this would work for philosophy)

 

Woman or tool?

Filed under: objectification,science — Jender @ 10:36 am

Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske took brain scans of heterosexual men while they looked at sexualised images of women wearing bikinis. She found that the part of their brains that became activated was pre-motor – areas that usually light up when people anticipate using tools. The men were reacting to the images as if the women were objects they were going to act on. Particularly shocking was the discovery that the participants who scored highest on tests of hostile sexism were those most likely to deactivate the part of the brain that considers other people’s intentions (the medial prefrontal cortex) while looking at the pictures. These men were responding to images of the women as if they were non-human.

I’m not particularly shocked that the hostile sexists were the most prone to this! From here. (Thanks, Mr Jender.)

 

Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, Nobel Prize-winning neurologist, dies at 103 January 1, 2013

Filed under: science — alpha @ 12:27 am

 

Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist who discovered critical chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerve networks, opening the way for the study of how those processes can go wrong in diseases like dementia and cancer, died on Sunday at her home in Rome. She was 103.

Levi

Her story is amazing and I am looking forward to reading her autobiography, In Praise of Imperfection.

She  defied  Mussolini, survived the Nazi’s, had a long career at Washington University in St. Louis, won a Nobel Prize, served as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization, was made a senator for life in Italy and was the recipient of many, many honours.

 

It’s a girl thing (spoof version) December 7, 2012

Filed under: funny business,gender stereotypes,science — philodaria @ 7:31 pm

Over at the Telegraph:

A group of British female scientists have made a spoof video of themselves  strutting around in high heels and losing their make-up in science labs – to the  song ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It’ – in response to the “demeaning” science ‘girl  thing’ video published by the European Commission earlier this year.

 

Women in sciences and philosophy December 4, 2012

Filed under: science,women in philosophy — jennysaul @ 3:24 pm

I’ve had a number of really interesting conversations with Athene Donald, who’s done a lot of important work on women in the sciences. These conversations have led to her doing a blog post on women in philosophy, but also appealing for more information regarding sexual harassment in the sciences. I’m very interested to see what emerges.

 

 
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