Contemporary research on gender and technoscience

Kirkup, Gill and Li, Nai (2011). Contemporary research on gender and technoscience. In: Zhu, Jianhan and Huang, Jieyu Liu Ya-Chien eds. Western Women's Studies. Western Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Renmin, China: China Renmin University Press, pp. 197–218.



The purpose of this chapter is to review forty years of writing within English language gender studies on the relationship between gender, and science and technology (technoscience). It uses a chronological framework for these debates in order to give a background to the key theoretical positions, and the feminist campaigns associated with them. The chapter begins with a discussion of the changing nature of the terminology in this field of gender studies. It then describes the challenges made by feminist research from the 1970 onwards, to the ‘commonsense’ explanations of the differential roles played by men and women in the paid work of science and technology, and highlights the role of technoscience in gendering everyday life. Arguments were made from the 1970s that women had been excluded from science and technology rather than chosen not to engage in them, and gender scholars worked to uncovered the hidden history of those women who had been active in science and technology, as well as the processes by which women were excluded. Debates around women’s relationship to digital technologies are used in the chapter as a particular example this exclusion. The chapter ends with a discussion some of the most recent feminist cultural theories about the nature of what it is to be human or ‘post-human’ and ‘cyborg’, and the meaning of ‘gender’ in these concepts.

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