Written discussion questions From Monday’s class on intersectionality and Subramanium’s “Snow Brown” Which ending(s) do you think best reflects the state of science education and practice in the U.S. today…and why? Your answers: • “The second ending asserts a more inquisitive eye upon the scientific structure and I would argue is a better reflection of the current state of science education in the U.S. It asks the questions that are relevant today and challenges existing power structures.” Your answers: • “I agree that the 2nd ending is more like science today: there are challenges to the power structure, but it has not been removed. There is room for many types of ideas and new perspectives, but science is still limited within a specific community and to those with the most education, rather than being something everybody is able to join in the conversation about.” Your answers: • “I believe we live in a society that questions the patriarchy but does not have the movement or progress of developing equality like we should have by now.” Written discussion questions: • If an appreciation for intersectionality was the norm in science, what outcome(s) would you anticipate for science as a whole? • (Positive and/or negative) Your (positive) answers: • “A new focus on overlooked areas of study…” • “It would bring us closer to ‘truth’…” • “It would disrupt the system…[and] conflict is necessary for solutions…” Your (positive) answers: • “I think that it could make science stronger, even by its own criteria (objectivity, generalizability). Being allowed to ignore vast swaths of experience, data, and identities doesn’t improve knowledge; it’s producing big blind spots, real weaknesses. I definitely don’t think it would hurt anything, but maybe it would produce more accurate theories and better, more inclusive studies.” Your (positive) answers: • “Lead to greater access for marginalized groups…” • “could greatly diversify the field & the world’s scientific knowledge…” Your (mixed) answers: • “It is good to appreciate different learning styles but overall, science should state the facts.” • “I disagree. I think that by welcoming social issues, science would be viewed from all angles in every kind of light. By competing as well as cooperating, scientific knowledge might expand tenfold.” Your (mixed) answers: • “I think consensus building and decision making would go FAR more slowly, and it wouldn’t work in a consumerist/capitalist society. However, it would be great to include more versions of ‘the truth.’” • “I agree: it would complicate things and not gel well in certain societies. It would be much harder to educate…but I feel it might give us a better shot at the ‘truth’ of science as well as bring up new ideas and theories in research.” Your (mixed) answers: “…could lead science education and research to be more open to what are considered ‘fringe ideas’ …. But, it could also lead to such a concern for everyone’s identities, that no real research gets done. The current system DOES get things done, so if we completely overhaul it in favor of a more intersectional one, we risk losing some of the conditions that facilitate learning that we currently have. We have to recognize the positives in our current system, and not just criticize the negatives.” • “I think that the only risk could be overdoing intersectionality, but I don’t think that risk is very high. I do think science and objectivity are valuable; but applying intersectionality might improve science. Within sociology, it could lead a researcher to considering whether their study is really including everyone, in the right way, and make for a better study.” Your (mixed) answers: • “…Science would become better...however, this could make some applications of science more difficult: would medical practitioners in every country…need to learn to practice a culturally-specific type of medicine? How much of science would be re-written, and how would that influence current technological advances? Would engineers in different cultures be able to design similar structures and machines, or would these be all different as well? These are just some of the issues science would need to navigate if Subramanium’s ‘postmodern fantasy’ became a reality.” Your (negative/cautious) answers: • “…making the science about the person who performed it is not what science generally does.” • “This would create bias …” • “Adding more variables [in addition to gender] would only create further basis for discrimination.” • “political correctness can run amok …” Your (negative/cautious) answers: • “If [intersectionality were taken seriously], the science community wouldn’t get anything done because financial backers don’t really care about…identities” • “That’s an interesting perspective: you’re saying that scientific research would essentially collapse? How does one incentivize financial backers to recognize intersectionality and place high monetary value on it?” Your (negative/cautious) answers: • “the people with more experience would no longer be the directors and as a consequence, everyone would be in charge...” • “People like to push norms, and if [intersectionality] becomes the norm, people might not push the boundaries as much as they used to.” “Feminist intersections in science: Race, gender, and sexuality through the microscope” Lisa Weasel Henrietta Lacks • Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) & the Lacks family on CBS Sunday Morning “Either ignoring altogether or separating out categories such as race, class, ethnicity and gender for individual analysis can lead to skewed perspectives and fails to acknowledge important ways in which social categories not only intersect but overlay one another” (184). • How do you interpret what Weasel has written here? …on “naturecultures” • What does Weasel mean when she employs the term “naturecultures”? • How is this concept relevant to the goal of her essay? According to Weasel, HeLa cells have recently been described as “a new species” (186), “regress[ed],” occupying “an ecological niche extremely different from that of humans,” and “the weeds of cell culture” (187). • Why does she find these characterizations significant? • Do you agree with her assessment? Why or why not? Even though Weasel is critical of how Henrietta Lacks’ cells were taken, proliferated, and disseminated, she concludes by discussing the “symbiosis” between science and society, and science and feminism (190). • Why does she describe these relationships in this manner? How do you interpret it?