Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies

35 | Social Aspects of Sciences X The Role of Gender

22 May 2006 - 26 May 2006
Course directors:
Reinhardt Brunner, University of Tübingen, Germany
Jasminka Lažnjak, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Darko Polšek, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Peter Stachel, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Course description:
When the President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers pointed out at an academic conference that innate biological factors may help explain why fewer women succeed at the highest levels of math and science, that comment caused world wide discussion on relation of gender and science. Despite the enormous improvement of status of women in science since 1920s and rapid process of feminization of all professions including academia, many female scientist, not exclusively feminist critiques, still stress the need for development of different approaches to understanding the persistent under representation of women in science. Feminist scientists challenged the notion that biologically based gender differences were responsible for women's lack of achievement in the sciences and began to reevaluate the validity of such theory. Social science research has drawn the attention on problems of subtle discrimination of women in science and asymmetry of dual science careers.

The course will explore a variety of questions on how gender relations affect the world of science including:

1. Is science gendered? Does science have masculine nature?
2. How feminist approach, including feminist epistemology, could be beneficial for science? What are positive arguments for such multicultural approach, how they analyze science and science practice using tools like language, communities, and politics? Might it hurt and destruct science?
3. What can we learn from history of female scientific careers?
4. What are the barriers to more significant participation of women in science and engineering regarding different cultures and societies? How to transcend these barriers?
5. How can social sciences contribute to define policy instruments that will secure more effective participation of women in science and engineering?

These are some of the questions the course will address and we invite proposals that explore other aspects of this controversial topic.