Gender Assumptions Influence Animal Research

This fits well with Emily Martin’s work some time ago on how research on the sperm and egg are affected by gendered assumptions. However, it’s in a different domain and– importantly- it’s current. I find students always suggest that what Martin claimed isn’t true any more.

Sexual conflicts among animals and plants mean that the male and the female disagree in various ways on mating and the raising of young. Research on these sexual conflicts is an area that is growing rapidly. Therefore, it is especially important to make other researchers aware of and alert to the fact that their own frames of reference pose a risk, say Kristina Karlsson Green and Josefin Madjidian.
Behaviour that originates from a sexual conflict always has a negative effect on the other partner and such behaviour should therefore be described in the same manner and using the same terms. It is thus possible to avoid making a subconscious distinction between the sexes. The two researchers claim that this is not the case today.
“In the literature, the male is described more in terms of activities to promote his own interests, while the female is described in more passive terms, such as that her behaviour is merely a reaction to that of the male. This is despite the fact that the behaviour of both sexes has a negative impact on the other partner while promoting the partner’s own interests,” says Josefin Madjidian.

(Thanks, Rob!)

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