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Disputing gender. Understanding how psychological gender research is used in public scientific controversies on gender in US-American media (DISPUTING GENDER)
Start date: May 1, 2013, End date: Apr 30, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The proposed transdisciplinary project analyzes socioscientific controversies on gender in US-American media. The notion socioscientific controversy entails public debates in which social questions are debated with the help of science. This project focuses on public debates about gender relations in which participants draw on psychological gender research. The analysis starts with a controversy sparked when in 2005, the president of Harvard University suggested that the lack of woman scientists in higher scientific positions might be due to innate cognitive gender differences. The following public debate included psychologists who used psychological gender research to either confirm or reject this position. The project will draw on discourse analysis to analyze this public debate and similar socioscientific controversies in selected US-American media. Research questions are directed at the ways in which psychological gender research shapes what can be publicly said about gender. Context information is drawn on to clarify the relation between public scientific discourse on gender and factual gender inequalities. Results will be discussed in the light of the critical historiography of psychology, science studies approaches on public scientific controversies, and feminist reflections on the interpenetration of science and gender inequalities. The project aims to contribute both theoretically and empirically to a critical historiography of psychology by analyzing and defining the relation between psychology and social inequalities, to science studies approaches on socioscientific controversies by clarifying how socioscientific controversies mediate between scientific and public discourse, and to feminist studies on the relation between science and social inequalities with an exemplary analysis and a detailed reflection of the interpenetration between psychological gender research and gender inequalities.
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