Gender and Science: Challenging Androcentrism
20 July 2015
The de-naturalization of power relations, broadly speaking at the societal and cultural levels, is a long process. The issue of reconfiguring power relations, which would not reconstruct women as the Other and as the Second Sex, to use Simon de Beauvoir’s book title, through scientific production, requires a politics of imagination and a will to end hierarchical power restructurings. Hence, there is a wide consensus among the feminists that disengagement with knowledge production schemes is never an option. At the same time, the terms of engagement of women in science require a radical reconfiguration of power relations through an epistemology that fosters transformation and the empowerment of women in science.
It is a fact that andro-centrism and gender ideologies favouring manhood have also not become an issue of debate in Kosovo. Gender studies as a teaching subject have entered in the university curricula, albeit through ‘the small doors’. Gender Studies and gender as an analytical tool have been introduced in a couple of in other Sociology, Philosophy, Antropology, Social Work courses. They are elective but some of them are also mandatory courses. A Gender Studies and Research Programme has also come to life. These changes are steps towards the institutionalistion of gender studies; they should be seen within the broader context of women professors with strong feminist convictions and not as an institutional commitment to gender equality in society and in science.
Indeed, the gender and cultural practices that give primacy to males are perpetuated in the education system. The segregation of professions by gender is a well-known fact. Indeed, ‘certain occupations such as teaching are attractive to women because they facilitate an even work-family balance’ (Hakim 2002:.434). This could prove true in the Kosovocontext where ‘teaching’ at secondary schools or working at kindergartens it is though to enable women to maintain the balance between the private and the public spheres. This juggling could be interpreted as being ‘not damaging for the family’. It can be also said that motherhood and the primary role of women as caretakers are options that society places on women as one of the most important gender roles. Societal pressure on women to conform has far reaching conseuences, such as differentiated and disadvantegous postioning of women teaching staff in all levels of education; segregated professions, and token representations of women in leadership positions in the insitutions of higher education and research.
To conclude, as Bordo has argued, science would become ‘democratic’ only ‘through and exploration of the institutions of knowledge/power that still dominate in our masculine public arena and that now threaten… to harness and tame the visionary and critical energy of feminism as a movement of cultural resistance and transformation’ (Bordo 1990: 136). Let us continue to challenge andro-centrism for an eqaul, just and fair knwoledge production philosophy and process.