Program in ‘feminist biology’ to counter ‘male, white, straight’ research
Suggesting science research is too male dominated, this fall the University of Wisconsin-Madison will roll out a post-doctorate “feminist biology” program to counter the alleged sexism and get out from under “male, white, straight” viewpoints, organizers say.
The program will be under the school’s Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, rather than the biology department, as it strives to “uncover and reverse gender bias in biology,” the university states on its website.
Janet Hyde, director of the campus Center for Research on Gender & Women, said feminist biology “is raising new questions and suggesting novel solutions,” and described the new doctorate program as “the first in the nation – and probably the world.”
However, feminism and progressive science research have often crossed paths.
For example, a few years ago a female Duke University professor named a new fern genus she described as bisexual after popstar Lady Gaga, and said the different methods plants reproduce celebrate homosexuality in humans – a concept traced to the book “Evolution’s Rainbow” which detailed animals that show “odd behavior, homosexuality, or … human quirks.”
“Feminist analysis in science has already revealed and challenged scientific errors resulting from gender bias on the part of scientists, including ways in which observer bias distorted our understanding of primate behavior,” Hyde said on the university’s website.
But this effort to push progressive science and feminist outlooks on research has met with criticism.
In an episode of The Factual Feminist, a weekly vlog by Christina Hoff Sommers through the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Sommers expressed skepticism about the University of Wisconsin-Madison program.
“Women are hardly ignored in biology. In fact, they have far surpassed men in earning biology degrees,” Sommers said.
She described the ways in which feminists have blown so-called sexist scientific discoveries out of proportion in the past, such as feminist scholar Catharine MacKinnon who argued that “the male scientific approach was similar to that of a rapist who would take joy in violating Mother Nature and penetrating her secrets.”
“Make no mistake,” Sommers said, “this new program is not about getting more women into the field. It’s about promoting women with the right worldview.”
She added: “Memo to the women at the University of Wisconsin… we need good biologists, not agenda-driven politicized scientists.”