Gender and Nature in Science Essay

Gender and Nature in Science Essay

Length: 1182 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

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Science is idealized as a perfectly neutral and objective field that gives non-biased answers to the questions society asks. However, science is not exempt from contextual influence. This means that who is conducting science and the context in which science is being done affect science. The investigation of metaphors linking women and nature, makes it clear that the rise of the New science, particularly science “proving” women’s inferiority, encouraged both the subjugation of women and the exploitation of nature.
To begin, metaphors linking women and nature changed from encouraging respect and harmony to encouraging control and exploitation of both women and nature. Today many people still regard nature as female. People often refer to the earth as “mother earth” and nature as “mother nature”. This gendering of nature is nothing new; nature has historically been gendered as female. However, the effect of this mentality has changed as the metaphors linking women with nature have changed. Historically, metaphors that referred to nature as a mother figure implied that nature ought to be respected (as one would respect one’s mother), and encouraged a harmonic relationship with nature.
The scientific revolution brought about a change in the way humanity perceived nature. This new view was a mechanical view that suggested nature was not a living organism (like mother nature), but a machine composed of many parts that can be fully understood, controlled, and ultimately exploited to suit humanity’s needs. This new idea that humanity can understand and control nature coincided with the change in metaphors. Instead of portraying nature as a peaceful mother providing for humanity’s needs, the metaphors now portrayed nature as something wild...


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...ence. This demonstrates science’s susceptibility to cultural influence, and shows that science often reflects the beliefs and agendas of its conductors.










Works Cited

Blau, Francine D., and Lawrence M. Kahn. "The Gender Pay Gap: Have Women Gone as Far as They Can?." 843. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
Bowler, Peter J., and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Science: A Historic Survey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. 496-503. Print.
Harding, Sandra. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. 43. Web.
Merchant, Carolyn. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. San Francisco: Harper, 1980. 270. Print.
Richardson, Elmo R. "The Struggle for the Valley: California's Hetch Hetchy Controversy, 1905-1913." California Historical Society Quarterly. 38.3 (1959): 249-258. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.

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