GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 230-5
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


COLLINS, Larry, School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99163 and FERRY, Nicole, School of Applied Leadership, City University of Seattle, 521 Wall Street, Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98121

Addressing issues of diversity and equity in the geosciences is a concern that needs continuous attention. This is especially true when considering the everyday discursive practices that scientists engage in as they both conceive of and produce research. One of the central equity issues scientists must consider is that of gender. Research has shown that gender bias influences researcher’s collection of data as well as their interpretation of said data. However, in framing geoscience as an objective study of the world around us, the role gender plays in the creation of science is often left unaddressed or seen as unimportant. As such, this presentation proposes that geoscientists draw on different theoretical and epistemological frameworks to make the role of gender a central concept in their research. One theoretical framework that could prove useful is poststructural feminism. Poststructural feminism is concerned with discourse and how it shapes peoples’ subjectivity (Belsey, 2002). This framework pressures apparent objective, scientific standards for producing knowledge and offers an alternative focus on exploring the construction of human subjects through various cultural discourses. For example, this framework can be applied in order to examine the everyday discourse patterns that scientists engage in with their students in the classroom and evaluate how these discursive patterns shape one’s perception(s) of science. Given the importance of an understanding of the nature of science, it is essential to think about the ways in which language and ideas that are considered to be critical to science are often rooted in masculinist, patriarchal discourses. Understanding how dominant discourse patterns shape our perceptions of gender and science can call attention to the scientific community about the need to embrace change in how we talk about science as a process of inquiry. In addition, this can emphasize the need to be reflective decision makers within the scientific community so that we are careful with the types of language that we use when communicating our discipline to others.