- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press (May 30, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807071706
- ISBN-13: 978-0807071700
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story
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“A brilliant approach to a long overlooked topic, Inferior is impossible to ignore and invaluable.”
“The Enlightenment brought revolutions in science, philosophy and art while ushering in respect for human reason over religious faith. But the era also created a narrative about women—that they are intellectually inferior to men. Indeed, science itself is an establishment rooted in exclusion, writes science journalist Saini, citing a long history of unrecognized achievement by women scientists: Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin and Emmy Noether, to name a few. The process of science is also riddled with inherent biases that have done nothing to improve society’s views of women. Neurosexism, for example, is a term that describes scientific studies that fall back on gender stereotypes. New science and awareness are overturning a great deal of flawed thinking, as Saini shows, but there is still a long way to go.”
—Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American
“In this smart, balanced, and wonderfully readable book, Angela Saini breaks the vicious cycle by which women, having been excluded from the sciences by men who assumed them to be inferior, were judged by those same male scientists to be inferior. Study by study, she objectively reexamines what we think we know about the supposed differences between the sexes. If you have ever been shouted down by a male colleague who insists that science has proven women to be biologically inferior to men, here are the arguments you need to demonstrate that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
—Eileen Pollack, author of The Only Woman in the Room
“Angela Saini’s Inferior proves the opposite of its title. It is a lively, well-written, informed account of women’s proven powers. She shows that science, long used as a weapon against women, is today an ally in their steady advance. Inferior is another nail in the coffin of male supremacy.”
—Melvin Konner, author of Women After All
“This is an important book that I hope will be widely read. Any time biases are identified and corrected for, it is science and policymaking rather than feminism or any particular ideology that comes out ahead.”
—Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of The Woman That Never Evolved, Mother Nature, and Mothers and Others
About the Author
Angela Saini is an award-winning science journalist whose print and broadcast work has appeared on the BBC and in the Guardian, New Scientist, Wired, the Economist, and Science. A former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism gold award in 2015. Saini has a master’s in engineering from Oxford University, and she is the author of Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World.
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Top customer reviews
First, I found it stimulating. Revisiting the old science and the new scientific discovers got me thinking down dozens of different lines. I really enjoyed the research on Bonobos and other primates that I wasn't familiar with. Very interesting.
And then there was the new research on human brains and hormones and theories of behavior. For a short book, Saini manages to accommodate a lot of facts and information. And one of the aspects I really enjoyed is that she didn't water it all down to pablum. Though everything was easy to understand, she never the less didn't cut corners and just give you her opinion. No, she gives the Reader the opinions of experts in the field on different sides of the debate. Debate, because it's no over yet.
Besides the scientific tracks, I also found myself revisiting the past decades and recent events. In some ways little has changed. The white men in science, like history, still rule the roost -- which is why much of the old science and the new science is wrong. By being unaware of their own inner thought processes, they bring bias to their experiments. And anyone who has trained in History can probably lecture you over a beer about the dangers of such ignorance. (For brief and interesting reading, pick up Marc Bloch's THE HISTORIANS CRAFT. It should be mandatory reading for anyone in the sciences and pseudo-sciences.)
In any case, that last paragraph comes from me and not the author. She does her best to provide the best data and interpretation. There are short sections of the book where I think she gets sidetracked but overall, this is fascinating book.
Recommend. I like the author's conversational style.
Saini does, indeed, cover a lot of experiments and research, but in a very readable way. No large, technical terms, which bore me to tears! (I am a country girl at heart!) But, with much ease, Saini let's it be known, that women are no longer 'scientifically proven' to be inferior to the male scientific communities standards, but is every bit the equal, in every way! (Dare I say, at times, superior to the male intellect?)
I found this book a pleasure to finally have the female counterparts of the world's leading males finally vilified!
I give it five stars and a big thumbs up!
I give this book five stars
and a great big thumbs up!
You can purchase this book on Amazon.com. Hardcover is $16.50, paperback $16.25, ebook $16.99, and audiobook $17.95.
Inferior is worth reading if you're very interested in the topic, especially because if offers a lengthy list of examples and references that you can follow up on yourself if you want to uncover the full story.
While there is plenty of literature available that addresses broadly the way that science, and by extension society, has both misinterpreted and misused science they largely serve a slightly different purpose and use a different methodology. Harding and Longino, for instance, are philosophers, so they approach the issues from a different perspective than a science writer. The works are all complementary and are all valuable for anyone interested in the field. The lack of mention of these writers is not, and should not be considered, a weakness of this work. To state otherwise is to conflate science with philosophy of science. They are closely related but not even remotely the same thing.
Saini presents, in each chapter, research which has been used to suggest that women are, in some way, inferior or lacking. To her credit she presents these studies in a very fair manner and at times you may wonder if she is going to side with the conclusions that these researchers came to. Then she presents other research that finds substantially more evidence for a counter view and, quite often, brings to light the errors and biases inherent in the first studies. She also, when possible, interviews the scientists all along the spectrum of ideas and findings and offers them the opportunity to clarify or defend their initial findings.
In sum, this work looks specifically at how studies, specific studies, can be used to support the idea that women are inferior then dissects those findings and those studies to show, scientifically (not philosophically), how the findings were influenced by the outdated idea that women are lacking in some way. She does not draw any lines in the sand with quacks on one side and good scientists on the other. Rather she shows how everything from study design, physiological assumptions and, of course, some degree of male entitlement can lead even the best scientists to draw faulty conclusions from questionable data.
This is a very interesting read on many levels. The presentations of the various research studies were fascinating and the contextualizing within the larger picture of both science and science publishing (the types of research most likely to be published and noticed outside the science community) was eye-opening. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in this field, especially those who want to confront the science with science and not just philosophy. By the way, I am a fan of the philosophy and area studies approach, I have certificates (there were no degree programs at the time at the universities I attended; yes, that means I'm old) in WGS at both undergrad and grad levels, so I am not slamming those approaches. But one can never have too many different types of information when confronting harmful stereotypes and beliefs.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Most recent customer reviews
Starts with a premise and then tries to cast people as supporting the concept that women are inferior.Read more
1) hold a grudge against "science" for the past 30 centuries of understanding...Read more