NWSA Journal 16.1 (2004) vi-vii
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As the new editor of the NWSA Journal, I am pleased to introduce this special issue on "(Re)Gendering Science Fields." This is the Journal's second special issue on women and science; the first, published in 2000 and edited by Laura Severin and Mary Wyer, focused on "The Science and Politics of the Search for Sex Differences" (12.3). This special issue, edited by Jill Bystydzienski, Chair of Women's Studies at Iowa State University, continues a conversation begun in 1988 with Dr. Ruth Bleier's article, "The Cultural Price of Social Exclusion: Gender and Science," published in the Journal's first issue. As editor Mary Jo Wagner explained in her introduction, Bleier examined "the so-called objectivity of science and the ways in which science has ignored women, women scientists, and questions which women might ask" (1). Four years later, in 1992, Ann Fausto-Sterling addressed the problem of the lack of communication between feminists and scientists in "Building Two-Way Streets: The Case of Feminism and Science" (4.3).
In 1993, four feminists in women's studies and science—Sandra Harding, Ruth Hubbard, Sue V. Rosser, and Nancy Tuana—participated in a forum on "building two-way streets" (5.1) in which all agreed with Fausto-Sterling that the lack of communication between scientists and feminists is dangerous. Harding argued that feminists should resist continuing the feminine habit of excusing women's "illiteracy and disinterest" in the sciences; instead, Hubbard asserted, feminists must begin to understand the effect of science and technology upon women's lives. Rosser emphasized, as Bleier had earlier, the fact that "both feminism and science suffer from the lack of communication across the gap" (66). One practical way to build two-way streets, Tuana suggested, was to include a component on women and science in introductory women's studies courses to examine the status of women in science as well as factors that have excluded women from participating in the sciences.
In 2002, in a special issue celebrating the founding of the National Women's Studies Association, Rosser assessed the past, present, and future of NWSA as a site for collaboration between women's studies faculty and women in science and technology in "Twenty-Five Years of NWSA: Have We Built the Two-Way Streets Between Women's Studies and Women in Science and Technology?" (14.1). She concluded that gender inequities and lack of family-friendly policies continue to impede women from full participation in the sciences; nevertheless she was optimistic that "active cooperation, research, and dialogue between women scientists and women's studies faculty in these areas might lead to genuine [End Page vi] changes in the culture of science and in the problems chosen for study, approaches, and curriculum" (114).
This special issue, "(Re)Gendering Science Fields" addresses many of the same problems articulated by Bleier, Fausto-Sterling, Harding, Hubbard, Tuana, and Rosser. It also demonstrates that collaboration between women's studies faculty and women scientists can, in fact, help to change the culture of science. As Bystydzienski explains, a major change has occurred in the stance of institutions: rather than focusing on the inadequacies of women, they have begun to examine how their practices impede women from full participation in the sciences.