- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press (May 30, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807071706
- ISBN-13: 978-0807071700
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,002 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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The author and her editors should have studied The Nurture Assumption and its sequel to gain insight on how to tackle cultural beliefs and debunk bad science. For example, the examination of the Baron-Cohen study of infants staring at faces or mechanical objects could have been a succinct example of really bad science that has influenced other scientists, the media, and the general public. Instead, the authors wanders about for page after page before examining the study’s design flaws and the inability of other scientists to reproduce its results. Similarly, the author could have spent more time and been far more effective on the plasticity of our brains - on how culture itself, by encouraging boys to play with mechanical objects and girls to play with dolls, may in fact create quantifiable differences between the sexes, in spacial orientation tests and verbal interaction levels for example. In such cases, the science is probably getting it wrong because researchers are mistaking causation - outcomes are different because of training, not underlying structural differences in the brains of men and women. In the end, this book contains many interesting arguments worth study but fails in being particularly persuasive.
Yes, scientists, being bound by their own cultural straitjackets, get lots of stuff wrong, especially in the social sciences, but over time the scientific method will correct these errors. This book is a step in that direction, but just a small one.
I'm father of three girls, and sadly see we haven't made that much progress since the dawn of society in making it worlwide a better place for women. Time will tell whether the situation improves. Meantime, reading Angela's fact-based book is an enlightening experience.
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.