University of Wisconsin-Madison establishes post-doc in feminist biology

01 May

This is not satire, apparently.

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.

The first post-doctoral fellow, Caroline VanSickle, is now completing her Ph.D. in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan. When her two-year fellowship begins in September, she plans to continue her research on female human ancestors by investigating changes in pelvis shape — and therefore childbirth anatomy — during the course of human evolution.

Her focus will be South African australopithecine species dating from 1.5 million to 3 million years ago. VanSickle will also teach gender and biology and develop a new course in the area.

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.”

The Wittig Postdoctoral Fellowship in Feminist Biology is funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Gertraude Wittig. Born in Germany, Wittig earned her doctorate in zoology and botany from the University of Marburg in 1955. She came to the U.S. on a Fulbright Scholarship and later worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a researcher in insect pathology and electron microscopy.

At the USDA, and later on the biology faculty at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Witting worked tirelessly to encourage women to participate in the sciences. Although Wittig had no previous connection to UW-Madison, Hyde says, “She directed her gift to this university in recognition of the strength of the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies in focusing on the intersection of gender and science.”

Lysenkoism lives…


7 responses to “University of Wisconsin-Madison establishes post-doc in feminist biology

  1. Will S.

    May 1, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Reblogged this on Will S.' Random Weirdness Blog.

  2. Will S.

    May 1, 2014 at 11:38 am

    1. ErisGuy Says:
    April 29th, 2014 at 13:32
    All women should be educated in feminist biology; all blacks in black science; etc. Let the evil white man have the science of white, racist, sexist, classist Europe.

    2. RealRick Says:
    April 29th, 2014 at 14:14
    But wait! That’s sexist and no doubt raaaaaacist!

    What about transgendered, ungendered, intragendered, pregendered, transmorgified, intermittent, unclassified, interspecial, and nongendered students? Don’t they each deserve their own special biology classes? I’m sure that there are many students who would support getting rid of the whole male/female biological divisions and encourage professors to teach that the biology of life should not be based on chemicals and facts, but should instead be whatever makes us feel good. It would almost be like an abortion of thought. It’s a person’s human right to choose the biology they like. Once you get past all those boorish facts, you can be anything you want – even Native American like Elizabeth Warren.

  3. Sanne

    May 1, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Is this from the Onion?

  4. Will S.

    May 1, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I wish it were; it’s directly from a press release from UW-Madison.

  5. electricangel

    May 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I think you’re ALL wrong! If it’s true biology, and it’s the scientific method, then the feminists have stepped into an arena where they cannot handle the truth.

    Look, there was male bias in science; one example is that the egg is not a completely passive partner in selecting which sperm gets to penetrate (heh!) it. But the fundamentals of biology will NEVER side with the feminists, so if you can lure them into sponsoring REAL science in the area, within a few years you’ll have people who either admit to the truth, or deny that they are scientists. It’s a trap for them, unless they think to turn biology into a consensus, not a truth, discipline.

    Recall the words of Chairman Mao:
    ” In order to build a great socialist society, it is of the utmost importance to arouse the broad masses of women to join in productive activity. Men and women must receive equal pay for equal work in production. Genuine equality between the sexes can only be realized in the process of the socialist transformation of society as a whole.”

    If the feminists and equalists want to ally with Mao, it suggests “equality” is not natural, i.e. biological, and can only be achieved (which it hasn’t!) by killing more people than anyone else, ever. Let them lead themselves into the trap!

  6. Will S.

    May 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    If they’re doing true science, then yes, it almost certainly won’t be in line with their a priori feminist assumptions, all the time. But if they are more concerned with ideology, and it isn’t real science that they’re trying to do, they’ll strive to find a way to explain away anything that doesn’t fit their ideology…


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