Feminist biology — which attempts to uncover and reverse gender bias in biology — will be the focus of a new, endowed fellowship in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The program is the first in the nation — and probably the world,” says Janet Hyde, director of the campus Center for Research on Gender & Women.
Feminist biology aims to develop new theory and methods in biology that reflect feminist approaches, and “is raising new questions and suggesting novel solutions,” says Hyde.
“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 adds. “Even on the cellular level, the biology of sex determination in the embryo was initially misunderstood because scientists assumed that the Y chromosome would have a leadership role.”
Hyde notes that the late Dr. Ruth Bleier of UW-Madison, a physician and neuroscientist, was a founder of feminist biology who wrote two essential books in women’s studies, including, in 1984, “Science and Gender: A Critique of Biology and Its Theories on Women…”