Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Question of Gender Roles

One of the more recent readings that we have had to do for this class was of a book's chapter that was titled Science and Gender. It brought up the arguments held by some science historians that the history of science is filled with sexism towards female scientists, and even that science is sexist in how it is structured. One main argument for this contention is that science has seemed to view nature as something to be exploited, reputedly a strictly masculine viewpoint, and in fact, some historians who refer to this tendency have proposed that a separate, female scientific field be created that gives greater care to nature and the environment. I like the premise, but something bothers me about this whole consideration.

This whole idea has caused me to wonder exactly what makes a certain contention more feminine or masculine? Why must a feminine science place so much focus on nature? It places a lot of trust in the idea that women should care about nature, and that seems awfully stereotypical to me, so why is this viewpoint actually encouraged by feminists?

I think that the gender roles that exist have purely social causes, and have almost nothing to do with the innate nature of one's gender. I think that men and women would have generally the same interests if certain social stigmas didn't tell us "you're a woman, so you have to act this way," or "you're a man, so here are a list of things you are forbidden to like." The whole idea troubles me in spite of the fact that it is so ingrained in our society.

But then again, maybe I have a limited viewpoint, so I ask of anyone reading: what do you think of this? Do you think men and women are innately drawn to or away from certain interests? Or are these affected by social stigma? Do you have a different view entirely? Please let me know about your opinions, because I would really enjoy reading them!

-Christopher Hoef

1 comment:

  1. I agree with what was said above. I feel that our society, especially American society has many problems with gender roles. One that especially troubles me, is that there has not been a woman president. I always wondered when I was younger why there wasn't a woman on American money. I think much of our nation feels the president is a role for a man, and that should not be so. Other countries have woman leaders such as Germany.

    Moving along in my thoughts, I think that men are women are innately drawn to or away from certain interests. Some differences in numbers of males and females in a field might be due to preferences, not social pressures or stigmas. For example, there tend to be more male engineering students/engineers than women. As a woman in science, I personally did not see anything wrong with the engineering field. I just was not drawn to it.