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2006/07 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC3140 Gender, Science and Technology

10 creditsClass Size: 100

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2006/07


At least 20 credits in level 2 HPSC modules or equivalent, subject to the approval of the Chair of the Division of History and Philosophy of Science

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Scientists and philosophers have long viewed science as being free of gender bias - or at least that it is normally so. But this view has been criticized over the last three decades. Why have comparatively few women succeeded in science as Marie Curie did? Why were women who made major contributors to Nobel-prizing science, such as Rosalind Franklin's in DNA research, almost completely forgotten? Feminists have suggested that answers to these questions lie in the gender structures of science ? that men's power in science has been greater than women, and thus that science has long been fundamentally 'masculine' in character. Feminist critics suggest even that the vocabulary, practices and concepts of science have been marked by common but questionable assumptions about differences in masculine and feminine roles - especially in biomedical studies of reproduction. By looking at the history of men's and women's changing roles in the sciences over the last few centuries this module presents an opportunity to subject these claims to critical examination. One particular focus is the married lives of scientists, especially the Curies and Einsteins, to examine how far the creativity often attributed to men might be the result of collaboration with spouses.


On completion of this module students will be able to: critically evaluate scientific theories of sex and gender; critically evaluate the use of gendered images and analogies in scientific literature; comment on the interaction between gender and politics in the applications of science; explain, place in their philosophical context and evaluate feminist epistomologies


The syllabus includes topics chosen from the following list: theories of sex difference in the biomedical sciences; presuppositions about gender and their relationship to sociobiological theory; the impact of science on women's lives; the use of gendered images and analogies in the presentation of science; the relationship between gender and politics in the application of science; science as knowledge and the place of specifically feminist epistemologies as contrasted with traditional philosophical accounts of knowledge; the role of women as practitioners of science.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Seminars 11 x 2 hours

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

1 x 2000- word essay.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 08/07/2008


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