The Concept of Gender in Natural and Social Sciences: Contemporary Research and Teaching Issues

By:
Sasa Lada,
Maria Rentetzi,
Maria Repousi,
Dr. Katerina Trimi-Kyrou,
Anna-Efrosyni Mihopoulou
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The paper will present the research project “The concept of gender in natural and social sciences. Contemporary research and teaching issues”, which has been granted by the research program Pythagoras-Gender in 2004. This research project aims to investigate the following topics concerning Greek Universities and Research Centers: 1. What are the reasons behind the unequal development of gender issues between social and physical sciences? 2. Which are the epistemological stereotypes that impede the incorporation of gender as an analytic category in physical sciences mostly? 3. What sort of epistemological subversions have occurred in social as well as in physical sciences that have developed these specific issues? 4. What are the transformations that have occurred on a level of epistemological discourse, theory, methods and research objectives as well as on a level of scientific practice, including the physical space of scientific action? The project is based on the main assumption that gender has been a problematic analytical category not so much for the critical study of humanities but most of all for the physical and mathematical sciences. To explore the above assumption we focus on the epistemological conditions that make it possible and thus we use three research strategies. First, we aim to collect qualitative and quantitative data for each main discipline. Second, we scrutinize the stereotypes that support the dominant epistemological paradigm in each discipline. Last, our research group will analyze possible differences between the final qualitative and quantitative data. For instance, in case the data justify our primary assumption the obvious questions will be: what are the causes for this phenomenon, which are the factors that contribute to the resistance of physical science to a gender critique and what is the role of the gendered experiences of those involved in science practice. Focusing on academia we question differences in teaching strategies, concerning different disciplines and we explore their causes.

Interrogating Boundaries: The Intertwinement of the Social and Natural Sciences in a High Energy Physics Laboratory Maria Rentetzi

Science and Technology Studies have exhibited an interesting trend in focusing on boundaries and boundary objects. Disciplinary, epistemological, ethical, cultural or otherwise, boundaries have often occupied the interest of STS scholars. In our research program “The contribution of gender to social and natural sciences” hosted by the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, we “interrogate” the boundaries between social and natural sciences, hoping to unfold the different ways the analytical category of gender has influenced the two traditionally distinct areas of cognition. The focus of my paper is on the intertwinement of the natural and social sciences in the space of the high energy physics laboratory after the 1960s. In the wake of WWII, the physics laboratory was transforming—physically and conceptually. This process of transformation included new instruments, new settings, new buildings, new funds, and new personnel. Kilometers of 70mm film were produced by the double chamber experiments, producing at the same time an immense amount of data which were waiting to be scanned, measured and interpreted. Although trained men physicists took over the creative and skilful task of data interpretation, nonphysicists, who were mainly women, were assigned the “unskilled” job of scanning and computing. Paradoxically, in the new factories-like US research centers women’s role was downgraded compared to the European physics laboratories before the II World War. Although this shift has been extensively discussed for the case of the United States, there has been hardly any reference to the periphery of scientific research and to European countries such as Greece. This paper traces the ways gender stereotypes were transferred to the nuclear research center “Demokritos,” the most important physics laboratory in Greece during the 1960s and 1970s.

Gender or Women? The Focusing of the Research and the Academic Teaching in Social Sciences in Greece Maria Repousi

Katerina Trimi-Kirou

In the framework of Pythagoras project, which concerns the contribution of the category gender in research and academic teaching in Greece, a number of interviews from members of the academic and scientific community have taken place. This paper is limited in the field of social sciences and will present: a) the criteria used to select the sample interviewed (sex, university, age, years of working on gender subjects)

b) the main issues explored in the interview: i) the individual’s ideological and epistemological background ii) her/his personal experience or involvement to the feminist movement iii) the theory/concept each individual has adopted for the gender, iv) the fields of her/his scientific research and academic lectures v) her/his method of teaching vi) her/his attitude towards inter-scientific research

c) the conclusions that arise from the analysis of the interviews, especially concerning the interconnection between the parameters mentioned above

d) the issues that require further research.

The Women’s Studies Group at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki and Two Decades of Inquiring into the Practice of Women’s Studies in Greece (1983-2003) Anna-Efrosyni Mihopoulou

The Women’s Studies Group at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki was formed in the early 1980s by women -members of staff and a few students- belonging to different academic faculties, aiming to question the status of women both inside and outside the academic institutions and to forward alternative views to the knowledge produced therein. A study of its history and endeavours, which covered a period of about two decades, discusses the possibilities and the limitations of such an enterprise in the frame of the academic and the political establishments and of the women’s movement and feminist theory at the time in Greece and abroad. A record of the achievements and the failures of the group, determined by the circumstances as well as by the personal quests and attitudes of its members, is expected to contribute to the discussion on the forms that Women’s / Gender Studies may or should take within the institutions of higher education.


Keywords: -
Stream: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Colloquium in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Sasa Lada

Professor in Architectural Design, Architectural Theory and Gender Studies, Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Greece

Architect (AUTH, 1969), Postgraduate Diploma CNAA (MARU, Polytechnic of North London, 1973), Associate Professor of Architectural Design, Architectural Theory and Gender Studies, practicing architect, based in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Maria Rentetzi

Lecturer, Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, National Technical University of Athens
Greece

PhD in Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech, USA. The author’s dissertation was awarded the Gutenberg e-prize (2004), American Historical Association; Honorific mention (2005), International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science; Outstanding Dissertation Award in Social Sciences (2003) VT.

Maria Repousi

Historian and Assistant Professor, Primary Education, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Greece


Dr. Katerina Trimi-Kyrou

Ph.D. in History, Université de Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg
Greece


Anna-Efrosyni Mihopoulou

Adjunct Lecturer, Undergraduate Programmes for Gender and Equality 
Technological Educational Institution of Patras, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Greece

Graduate of the School of Philosophy, University of Athens. M.A. in Women’s Studies, University of York, U.K. Co-founder of the Women’s Bookshop at Athens (1983-1990) and of “Delfys” Women’s Archives (1990-today). Adjunct lecturer at the Technological Educational Institution of Patras (2003-2005) and at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2005-2006, and researcher for the Pythagoras program, AUTH.

Ref: I06P0279