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Accepted Contribution:

The controversy over sex differences in evolutionary biology – a feminist science study  
Malin Ah-King (Stockholm University)

Short abstract:

As an evolutionary biologist and gender researcher, I have studied the controversy among evolutionary biologists over what sex differences are and what causes them.

Long abstract:

Controversies over sex differences abound and biology is often used to assert essential sex differences. Yet, even evolutionary biologists disagree over what sex differences are and what causes them. This project aims at understanding how and why this controversy over sex differences emerged.

The last decades of biological research have revealed an extensive variability in sex and sexual behavior among animals. However, interpretations of this variability diverge between those biologists that consider the sexes as fundamentally different, emphasizing different sizes of egg and sperm as the basis for male and female patterns, and other biologists that highlight the variability of the sexes due to social and environmental influences, hence the dynamics of sex differences. But the controversy cannot be simplified to a matter of nature or nurture, there are many different sources of disagreement. I have interviewed researchers involved in the controversy and analyzed publications to identify the different lines of conflict, as well as what formed the researchers’ divergent situated knowledges.

As an evolutionary biologist and gender researcher conducting this feminist science study, I reflect on the impact of my positionality as an insider and outsider for my knowledge-making process.

Combined Format Open Panel P252
Feminist biologies: models, practices and engagements
  Session 1 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -