Programme

(T135)
Envisioning a Feminist Approach to Science and Technology Policy
Location M215
Date and Start Time 01 September, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 1

Convenors

  • Shobita Parthasarathy (University of Michigan) email
  • Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

While feminist critiques and approaches have been fruitfully utilized in STS, they have had limited impacts on science and technology policy. This track brings together diverse scholars to explore prospects, limitations, and future directions for feminist approaches to science & technology policy.

Long Abstract

This track aims to foster productive dialogue in STS and beyond about feminist approaches to science and technology policy. Although feminist critiques and approaches have been fruitfully utilized within STS, they have had limited impacts on scholarship and practice in science and technology policy. Critical questions to be investigated include how science and technology policies construct gender, race, and class, what might a feminist science and technology policy look like, and how STS insights can help us develop more feminist science and technology policies. We bring together scholars experienced in feminist policy analysis in diverse locales and with reference to a range of policy issues to explore prospects, limitations, and future directions for feminist approaches to science and technology policy. Papers will explore feminist approaches to emerging technologies, grassroots innovation, and university-industry relationships. We hope that this will be first step in an ongoing initiative to rethink science and technology policymaking from a feminist perspective.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The gendered organization of science policy

Author: Laurel Smith-Doerr (University of Massachusetts)  email

Short Abstract

Understanding gendered organizational processes in scientific work blends older Merton-Zuckerman strands with recent feminist STS on situated knowledges. Organizations are where science policy happens – in governmental agencies but also in labs where policy implementation (and resistance) occurs.

Long Abstract

This discussion of feminist gendered organization theory draws on data from academic, industry, and US federal government contexts of science and technology. Science policymaking is an area that needs further study because of its key role in directing science and technology outcomes (e.g., Jasanoff 2007); the representation and leadership of women in science agencies needs theorizing. And the connection of science policy constraints on funding to gendered organization of labs is another area in need of theoretical development. There seems to be increasing individualism in scientists' narrative about their responsibilities regarding funding (Smith-Doerr, Croissant, Vardi forthcoming). Gender cannot be easily discussed in policies or discourses about funding; what are the implications of the invisibility of gender in policy for practices of knowledge production and resource allocation?

This paper seeks to understand the gendered links between policy for science and science as practiced. Recent discourse in science policymaking focuses on "collaboration," particularly interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Is the focus on collaboration related to women's involvement in science policy? Does "collaboration" as a goal result in larger, winner-take-all projects that support formation of research centers (where men usually lead, Corley and Gaughan 2005)? It would be fruitful to join analyses of the processes of policy decisions for funding at the federal level and the processes for communication and allocation of resources in lab settings. Examining the upstream (funding) sources for science and the downstream implementation of collaboration together would provide a wider scope for understanding gendered organization in science and technology contexts.

Contraceptive Technologies, Public Policy, and the Stratification of Reproductive Health Care

Authors: Jenny Brian (Arizona State University)  email
Patrick Grzanka (University of Tennessee)  email

Short Abstract

In this presentation, we take an intersectional approach to the study of long active reversible contraceptives (LARC), and explore how US LARC promotion policies and practices reflect and/or disrupt dominant discourse on unintended pregnancy and social inequalities.

Long Abstract

Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) have become the contraception de-jour of many legislators, health policy advocates, healthcare providers, and consumers in the contemporary United States. LARC is championed across the political spectrum as promising an affordable, reliable, and safe means by which to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, but some critics suggest that LARC promotion reconstitutes eugenicist policies that target society's most vulnerable populations. We take an intersectional approach to the study of LARC promotion, because such practices and policies are not just about social class or gender or race, but about the intersections of these and other social forces that have created complex inequalities, as well as institutional responses to these inequalities. In this presentation, we explore how LARC promotion policies and practices reflect and/or disrupt dominant discourse on unintended pregnancy and social inequalities. We situate historically and socially U.S. LARC promotion efforts through a genealogical analysis of relevant policies that will highlight the scientific and legal logics behind LARC promotion, as well as identify the unintended consequences of health policies designed to alleviate inequality. We consider the unspoken messages of LARC promotion, as well as the way these policy documents have travelled and been taken up by other agencies, social actors, and media. This policy analysis follows leading interdisciplinary feminist scholars who interrogate the complex nexus of reproduction, technoscience, health policy, and inequality by focusing on the complexities and contradictions inherent in all systematic attempts to reduce disparities and influence population change.

Bodies of data and the problem of physiological narcissism

Author: Ana Viseu (Universidade Europeia)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents preliminary results of an ethnography of London's 'Quantified Self' (QS) group. My goal is to examine the processes of self-quantification of QS'ers so as to examine how feminist technoscience may offer us alternatives to enact, represent and govern the self.

Long Abstract

This paper presents preliminary results of an ethnography of London's 'Quantified Self' (QS) group - the largest of such groups in Europe. Founded by two influential technolibertarians from Wired magazine, the 'Quantified Self' (QS) movement is a growing international grassroots movement whose motto is, "self-knowledge through numbers". The London members are a mixed bunch of people who share an enthusiasm for science, technology, and the pursuit of self-knowledge through data. Guided by what one member terms "physiological narcissism" QS'ers develop and use technoscientific devices (tools and software) to generate bodily data to monitor and quantify themselves, hoping to achieve a more objective form of self-knowledge, a scientific self-awareness, that will then help them optimize self-performance. Drawing upon ethnographic data and interviews with QS members, in this paper I trace the practices, discourses and shared imaginaries of London QS members and link them to a feminist lens of 'care'. My goal is to examine the processes of self-quantification of QS'ers, what they tells us about the current conceptions of data in their interactions with the 'self' so as to examine how feminist technoscience may offer us alternatives to enact, represent and govern the self.

Grassroots Innovation and Gender Order in India

Author: Shobita Parthasarathy (University of Michigan)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I explore grassroots innovation and efforts to foster it in India. I argue that it provides us with conceptual tools to both interrogate our dominant innovation systems and to imagine what a feminist innovation system might look like.

Long Abstract

What are the gender implications of our dominant innovation systems? What would a feminist approach to innovation systems look like? In this paper, I explore these questions by using recent efforts to foster "grassroots innovation" in India to both interrogate our dominant innovation systems and to imagine what a feminist innovation system might look like. Traditionally, our innovation systems are built upon the assumption of a linear model, in which research leads to technology development and diffusion. This process is facilitated by government research funding, private entrepreneurship, strong patent laws, and a free market. But this approach has had limited social benefit, both in terms of serving public needs and ensuring broad access. In recent years, development organizations and entrepreneurs have tweaked this approach, advocating social innovation, public-private partnerships, deliberative governance, and attention to the market at the "bottom of the pyramid". But India's government and NGOs, including the National Innovation Foundation and the Self-Employed Women's Association, are developing very different kinds of innovation systems. They are redefining "innovators" to include those with limited education and resources, and "innovation" to include more than novel artifacts. They are trying to redefine incentive structures, manufacturing, and distribution networks with these new definitions in mind, with the goal of empowering the public to produce sustainable solutions for the future. Does this approach provide a viable model? What are the gender implications of this alternative, and one might argue, more participatory, model?

This track is closed to new paper proposals.