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oschalit's picture

At the end of the article, "How Stereotypes about Science Affect the Participation of Women", Ruskai says, "In the past, scientists have often emphasized the differences between science and other fields in ways which emphasized the objective and analytic aspects, while obscuring the role of creativity and intuition" (p.9). This statement touches upon an issue that I think has been greatly overlooked. This issue is one that the language used by scientists and non-scientists in discussing science may be playing a huge part in the perpetuation of the very stereotypes that we are trying to counter. First, the language that is used to describe science includes words that have been loaded with gendered meaning, masculine or feminine. Attaching these words to an illustration of science (in the global sense) consequently attaches the gendered meanings to science as well. Second, in the beginning of Ruskai's article she says, "a flawed picture {of gender and science} has emerged based upon a supposed dichotomy between a subjective, creative, intuitive, nurturing, feminine perspective, and an objective, scientific, abstract, analytical masculine one" (p.2), the language used in describing the "masculine perspective" is discreetly used in similar descriptions of science. This presence of a "masculine" science may be perpetuating a certain approach to science thus influencing the language used by those who represent science. In turn this can cause young girls, who observe science (academically), to fear the masculinity of the language and the approach that science takes academically and philosophically. This then causes young girls to lean away from scientific pursuits.