Just add women and stir?

Harding S
In: Missing links: gender equity in science and technology for development, [compiled by] United Nations. Commission on Science and Technology for Development. Gender Working Group. Ottawa, Canada, International Development Research Centre [IDRC], 1995. 295-307.

This document (the 13th chapter in a UN Gender Working Group book on the overlay of science and technology [S&T], sustainable human development, and gender issues) considers the importance of applying a gender perspective to development efforts. One major reason why the development projects of the past 40 years have fallen short of their goals is that they have disempowered women. While efforts to "add women" to S&T programs and workplaces are valuable, they have failed to advance women's situations or sustainable human development because the S&T sites have remained firmly controlled by men. Gender is shown to be an oppositional relationship between individuals, social structures, and/or symbolic systems. Gender differences are always hierarchical; gender is interlocked with hierarchical social relations; gender is no less real because it is a social construct; and gender relations are dynamic. A look at "science" shows that restrictive, conventional views are giving way to a concept that considers the various sciences to be diverse and observations to fit more than one theory. The very questions asked by scientists can shape the images of nature and social relations that emerge in research results. Technologies are shown also to be fraught with gender politics and to be tools of social engineers. In order to craft sustainable human development with a gender perspective, S&T changes must be designed from the perspective of particular groups of local women who will bear the consequences of the changes. In fact, those who bear the consequences of a decision should have a proportionate share in making it.

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