Our first in a series on Korean science and technology. Brought to you in partnership with Epi.
2006: “Are you stupid?”
That was what his eyes seemed to say. I was struggling over a general physics question when a classmate asked me, “You don’t get this? Just think about a model car. It’s easy.” His words were laced with scorn. I was 19, a freshman in college. Throughout middle and high school, I was always one of the top students. I’d studied Physics II on my own in hopes of being a mechanical engineering major. His passing remark was a dagger to my heart.
That’s probably when I began to think “Boys have physics brains”, whatever that means. Starting around that time, when people asked me about the difficulties of studying mechanical engineering, I would reply, “It’s difficult to compete with boys. They have a knack for physics.”
The strange thing is that I was much more passionate about physics than my classmate and I had better grades. Yet for some reason I believed that I only did better because I worked hard. I never thought that I had the brains for it. But looking back, I realize that I did. Perhaps it would have been better if I’d played with model cars or toy blocks when I was younger. Or actually, if the questions in the textbooks had been about animals, which I liked, instead of cars, perhaps I would have enjoyed studying more. In the end, I left the field. Some say the people who don’t quit are the ones that find success. My classmate stayed on in the field, and he’s now thriving.
1994–2002: I loved playing with dolls, and I loved science experiments
I’ve liked science since my elementary school years. The yellow science experiment box was my particular favorite. Connecting wires and seeing a small light bulb come alive was so exciting. I enjoyed welding too and I carried the owl electric circuit everywhere, with its eyes that lit up. I still have vivid memories of battling with a friend over whether coffee grounds melted in water.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I was one of those science geeks. I had a full set of Encyclopedia of Science, which was popular then, but I only lifted their covers when I had homework to do. I wasn’t particularly interested in dinosaurs, space, or cars. And I never made a rubber band-powered glider like all the other kids during “science month” celebrations.
That was because science wasn’t the only thing I liked. There were so many other things I enjoyed. I was busy with dolls, French skipping, or playing house. When I was a little older, I got infatuated with origami, and enjoyed putting on makeup. I loved reading and sewing too.
I was one of those ‘girly girls’ and the reason I was able to maintain an interest in science was, come to think of it, my parents and my teachers. They told me that I had a brain for science because I was logical. Being logical isn’t only necessary for the natural sciences—it’s important for the social sciences and humanities too. But the compliments left me with an additional option to consider, an option that girls were rarely provided.
2004: “If you’re not going to medical school, then don’t major in science”
Things changed when I entered high school. I wanted to major in engineering and during guidance counseling sessions my teachers often told me to “think again”. Some made blatantly sexist remarks like “What would a girl like you do with engineering?”
I chose to study science regardless with the confident conviction to “go my own way”, only for another crisis to hit me in my senior year. I loved physics the most, had developed an interest in robots, and made up my mind to study mechanical engineering in college. But my school decided not to offer Physics II that year. The reason: not enough students. I attended a girls’ school, and only about ten out of over 100 science majors had signed up for the class, with the rest opting for Chemistry II and Biology II. My teacher forcibly advised us to choose either chemistry or biology, since it would be disadvantageous for the ten of us to compete for grades. In the end, I took biology and chemistry and studied Physics II on my own.
2017: 2006 all over again
So that’s how I had become a mechanical engineering major. Yet there I was, having to put up with someone asking if I was stupid. With a bit of exaggeration, I felt humiliated. I did go on to graduate school but I left with just a master’s degree because I was tormented by the thought that I wasn’t smart enough for a doctorate. Instead, I joined Donga Science as a journalist on the back of my major and my love of writing. And five years later, I had the most surprising experience.
Myth: Science textbooks are gender neutral
A work assignment required me to look through middle and high school science textbooks. I opened up the Sixth Curriculum middle school science textbook that was used from 2000 to 2002. Looking over the unit on physics, which I’d loved, I was reminiscing when something hit me. I hadn’t noticed it back in the day, but the textbook relied on just a handful of subject matters, repeated over and over.
Here is a question from ‘Research 4’ on page 236 of Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 1 Science Textbook: “Let’s see how the weight of an astronaut changes if the astronaut in the picture is transported to a height equal to twice the radius of the earth (6,400 kilometers).” Next to that question is an explainer, illustrating the magnitude of the force using a rectangular block and a spring. ‘Question 10’ on page 29 of Middle School Grade 3 Science Textbook reads: “In order to drive a pile into the ground, a lump of metal weighing 500 kilograms was lifted 10 meters off the ground by a crane. How many joules of work did the crane perform? How much energy was gained compared to when the lump of metal was on the ground?” ‘Application Questions’ on page 30 ask: “A motor has a power of 2.5 horsepower. How many joules of work can it perform in a second?” and “It took 14 seconds for an elevator (500 kilograms) carrying five people (50 kilograms each) to rise 20 meters to the fifth floor. How many joules of work did this elevator perform? How many kilowatts of power were used?” ‘Research 5’ on page 40 says: “This picture shows how the braking distance changes depending on the speed of a car. Let’s find the relationship between the car’s braking distance and speed.” On the other hand, the chapter on ‘Atmosphere and Water Cycle’ in Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 2 Textbook contains examples from real life, such as boiling water or taking a bath.
I remembered having a fancier Seventh Curriculum science textbook in high school. Perhaps it was better than the middle school textbooks. I looked through the textbooks for Physics I and II used from 2003 to 2005. In the introduction to ‘Momentum and Energy’ on page 44 and 45 of Kumsung Publishing’s High School Physics I Textbook, published in 2003, sits a description of boys riding motorcycles and playing baseball. A question about a cannon appeared on page 44 of Kyohaksa’s High School Physics II.
I remembered then that when I was studying physics—dynamics in particular—I had to calculate the range of rockets and cannon balls all the time. I didn’t think it weird back then. But these are objects that the world defines as masculine. In other words, the example objects used to help students understand physics problems were gender biased.
We can see why science textbooks became gender-biased when we look back on the history of science. Internationally, during World War II and the Cold War of the 1960s, the sciences, particularly physics and chemistry, were developed in large part for military purposes. In South Korea, meanwhile, science and technology became more associated with industry, since the government made efforts to support light and heavy industry in pursuit of economic revival. (This trend has continued to the present day and makes it difficult for the Korean government to avoid claims that it only supports research projects that turn profits.)
When you think about it, there are plenty of examples we can use to explain power and energy. Everything in the world depends on power and energy. Fireworks, pets, fish in a pond, a baby in its dad’s arms… How about using those as examples? Robotics engineers who create soft robots analyze the movements of caterpillars and fish using kinetics every day.
Studying textbooks filled with military and industrial technologies led me to view physics as the study of cannons, rockets, robots, and cars—objects of traditional interest to men. I came to equate my desire to study robotics with a desire to be yet another woman pioneer in a man’s profession. This thought, too, stemmed from gender stereotypes.
Ostracism awaits students who deviate from society’s idea of masculinity
Perhaps because of these gender-biased textbooks, many students who deviated from society’s idea of masculinity—that is, those who were not interested in military or industrial technology—were unable to develop an interest in science. Only then did I began to understand people who considered me an anomaly for liking science (physics, in particular).
People tend to believe that science is gender-neutral and objective. This is particularly the case with physics and chemistry, the so-called ‘hard sciences’. Some people find it difficult to believe that science textbooks might contain gender bias. J, who makes textbooks and study guides for middle and high school students at a publishing house, told me: “That’s impossible. Textbook review standards include an advisory clause which states there should be no gender bias in textbooks.” And C, a professor of science education, told me, “I’ve worked on science textbooks, and the writers work hard to eliminate sexist elements.” However, as I described above, gender neutrality and objectivity in science textbooks are, from a feminist perspective, mere myth.
Gendered socialization happens everywhere
Some might say, “Then why don’t we buy model cars for girls as well?” True, that’s an important question. Across the world, voices that denounce the gender lines in children’s toys and games are growing louder and louder. We now have science sets for girls and Lego that portrays women professionals.
But that is not enough. Because gendered socialization comes down to more than toys. I heard a story about parents buying their daughter a toy truck and then discovering her tucking it into bed. The parents thought, “Well, you can’t change a girl’s nature.” But that was not the issue. According to experts in the sociology of education, the behavior was caused not by the girl’s nature but by the fact that she identified herself with her mother, who tucked her in at night. This is how fast gender socialization occurs in children.
Even without restricting boys and girls to gendered games and experiences during infancy (although even this is impossible today), girls and boys develop distinctly different interests due to individual personality differences or other social factors. Allison Kelly, a professor at the University of Manchester, stated in her 1985 paper titled ‘The Construction of Masculine Science’ that “By the time they reach secondary school, girls and boys differ in many ways. They have different interests and hobbies, different background experiences and they envisage different futures for themselves. Girls’ interests center around people, boys’ around control.”
Can only boys throw balls?
There’s more. The majority of the photographs and illustrations in science textbooks are of males. So many that I wondered why I didn’t find it surprising at the time. There were particularly few photos or illustrations of girls in the units on physics. The picture of people engaging in arm wrestling and a tug-of-war on page 248 and 249 in the ‘Balance of Two Forces’ chapter in Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 1 Science Textbook, which I used myself, featured only men. The people who were throwing balls into the air, taking measurements, playing baseball, skating, and pushing and pulling blocks: all men. In Kumsung Publishing’s High School Physics I Textbook, published in 2003, the chapter on the ‘Oscillation and Generation of Waves’ features an illustration of three boys—one breaking a window pane with a scream, one doing the same with a baseball, and the other watching a plane fly. There are no girls in that picture. On the other hand, this trend was less pronounced in units on biology or environment. On page 14 of Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 2 Textbook, an illustration depicting students discussing the phenomenon of combustion featured two girls and two boys.
Even in the instances where women did appear in textbooks, they tended to reinforce gender stereotypes. According to Yoo Young-mi, an analysis of 32 elementary school, middle school, and high school science textbooks revealed that the units on physics contained illustrations of males based on male experiences (playing with robots, slingshots, baseballs, pulleys, rockets, and so forth). Conversely, the units on chemistry featured females with everyday items and food (a washing machine, detergent, a table, cabbage, and so forth). For instance, on page 166 in the aforementioned chapter on ‘Atmosphere and Water Cycle’ in Middle School Grade 2 Science Textbook, the featured illustration depicts a male student conducting an experiment with a thermometer and a match while a female student boils water in a kettle. This is beyond gender bias. It’s sexist.
Pictures of scientists presented as role models in science textbooks are also 99 percent men. The only woman scientist that science textbooks provide as a model is Marie Curie. Dorothy Hodgkin, Jane Goodall, Rosalind Franklin, Chien-Shiung Wu, Rachel Carson, Barbara McClintock… There are so many other women scientists. Why are none of them featured in textbooks?
Some argue this is simply because it is male scientists who have made the key accomplishments. But middle and high school science textbooks are not ‘Introduction to the History of Science’ textbooks. If the ultimate aim of science education is to raise scientists who will contribute to society, then the public education system has a duty to proactively discover women scientists, who the world of mainstream science has erased from history, and to present them as role models.
Shin Dong-hee, a professor of Science Education at Ewha Womans University, stated, “Education has a huge impact on students when it comes to subjects like mathematics and science, which are difficult for students to study on their own.” But this also means that students are highly likely to be influenced by gender stereotypes and biases from textbooks and teachers. “A recent study showed that the differences between the sexes become more pronounced during high school,” explained Noh Tae-hee, a professor at the Department of Chemistry Education at Seoul National University. He added, “This means that science skills and preferences are more likely to be influenced by the process of socialization than by genetic differences.”
Nothing has changed in 16 years
I looked over the science textbooks that were published in later years with a glint of hope. But my expectations turned to sighs. Science textbooks that were published in 2016 looked nicer, but the content wasn’t much different from the material I studied with in the early 2000s.
Introductions to chapters in textbooks play a big role in grabbing the attention of students. The images used in the introduction of the chapter on ‘Force and Energy’ were of experiments involving a crashing jet, a bullet piercing through an apple, and a high pressure water jet cutting materials (Dong-A Publishing’s Middle School Grade 2 Science Textbook, pages 328 and 331). A spring scale, wagon, driver and screws, tower crane, excavator, drillship, tractor, and other images that appealed to only certain students were still being used (Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 2 Science Textbook, pages 328-329). Images of cannon balls were unchanged from previous years (Kyohaksa’s High School Physics I Textbook, page 47). Examples analyzing satellite orbits appeared frequently. The section on buoyancy and fluid, included a flush toilet, a submarine, a car brake, and a car lift (Chunjae Education’s High School Physics I Textbook, pages 52-53, 284-285). In the unit on the conservation of momentum (the third law of motion), there were now a variety of examples using golf, baseball, volleyball, and tennis—but they were all still sports (Kyohaksa’s High School Physics I Textbook, pages 48-49).
Illustrations of professions weren’t much better. In the introduction section of the chapter on ‘Energy Transformation and Conservation’ of Kyohaksa’s Middle School Grade 2 Textbook, an illustration depicted men performing various typically masculine activities, such as watering a garden, working on a computer, changing a light bulb, driving a car, and cutting down a tree. Meanwhile, two of the three women depicted were cooking and chatting on the phone. Only the third woman was doing something not traditionally feminine—putting gas in her car. On pages 24 and 25 of Visang Education’s Middle School Grade 1 Science Textbook, there is an illustration titled ‘Science-related Occupations’ which depicts men with jobs such as manufacturing engineer, sound technician, cameraman, aircraft mechanic, and automotive assembly line worker, while the food researcher, weather forecaster, airport quarantine officer, aircraft dispatcher, and automotive designer were all women. It seemed that a lot of these depictions reinforced traditional gender roles.
I took a look at science textbook from Sweden, which tops international indices for gender equality. It is much thinner and contains fewer illustrations and pictures, and therefore a simple comparison would not be accurate, but I was able to find, without much effort, pictures of a woman riding a motorcycle and a woman repairing a car.
“Boys wouldn’t understand this example”
There are reasons why textbooks can’t be easily changed. K, an editor who works on middle and high school science textbooks and study guides, explained: “Baseball and cars might be familiar to only a certain group of students, but those are the pictures that best describe force and movements.” He added, “Since 80 to 90 percent of the compilers are (still) male professors, when an editor suggests a new example, they sometimes reject the example because ‘boys wouldn’t be able to understand it.’”
This is happening because compilers have become overly conscious of their end users—catering to assumptions about boys’ interests (in industrial and military technologies) that may or may not be correct. In doing so, they have ended up reinforcing existing gender stereotypes.
“Everything has to be dealt with in one unit in science textbooks. Because of the possibility of overlap with other units, it’s difficult to insert examples concerning daily life or art… From the editor’s perspective, science textbooks aren’t supposed to include subjective information. You can’t use adjectives such as ‘beautiful’.”
K went on to point out that gender-biased illustrations are likewise difficult to change. For instance, if a textbook draft has an illustration of a father making food, an editor might find it strange and add in a mother. “We could use pictures of female softball players or woman scientists, but it’s difficult to find those kinds of pictures,” K explained, indicating “realistic limitations” as one of the reasons for gender stereotypes in textbooks.
Is engineering only about solving technical problems?
How do gender-biased science textbooks affect students? Women account for more than half of the students majoring in chemistry and biology, at least in the incoming classes, but for only 30 percent in physics or physics-related fields. According to the Korean Educational Development Institute’s statistics on universities (including two-year colleges), in 2015 female students accounted for 28.2 percent of students in physics and sciences and 34.1 percent in astronomy and meteorology. Compared to 2006, this represented increases of 15.8 percent for zoology and 12.3 percent for physics and sciences, but a fall of 6.8 percent for astronomy and meteorology.
The figures were even worse for engineering fields. Textile engineering was the only field where female students accounted for more than half (52.1%) of the student population. Women accounted for about 30 percent of the student population in chemical engineering (36.7%), architecture (32.3%), and materials science and engineering (32.4%); and less than ten percent in physics-related disciplines like mechanical, automotive, electrical, and electromechanical engineering.
College-level textbooks for introduction to physics are similar to high school Physics II textbooks. Engineering schools also focus their curricula on military technology and industrial technology. They are, in other words, also gender biased, and the curricula affect female students who enroll with an interest in science and engineering.
A research team that conducted a survey on student satisfaction in various fields of study at eight engineering schools in Korea found no differences between female and male students in their first and second years. In the third and fourth years, however, female satisfaction fell significantly. The research team explained it this way: “The traditional image of engineering students, with the narrow focus on technical problems and the lack of interest in social issues, does not appeal to female students as a positive goal or as a vision for their future.”
Increase student interest by incorporating social issues and applying principles of physics to biology
There have been several small-scale attempts at resolving this situation. Young June Moon, a professor of mechanical engineering at Korea University, taught a seminar class with a book on the physics of living organisms. The book used was Life in Moving Fluids: The Physical Biology of Flow, written by Steven Vogel, an American biomechanics researcher and professor in the Department of Biology at Duke University. This book explores how two larvae use sandstorms for survival in deserts, or how whale fins and bird wings help these animals move about freely in the air or in water. Moon remarked, “Not only the female students but also the male students enjoyed the book much more than previous textbooks.”
Jo Boaler, a professor in the Department of Education at Stanford University, conducted comparative research on schools that employ either traditional textbook-based approaches or project-based approaches. Boaler interviewed 300 students over three years, and her results revealed that project-based approaches led to fewer differences between the sexes and a higher degree of achievement overall. Male students in both types of schools demonstrated no big differences in terms of confidence and interest, but female students who learned under the project-based approach were much more positive and confident than those took the traditional textbook-based approach.
In 2006, Maria Klawe, a mathematician and computer scientist, was appointed president of Harvey Mudd College. She proceeded to completely transform the computer science curriculum, and in a unique way. Instead of Java, a notoriously difficult programming language, she introduced Python, an easier language, to introductory computer science classes. The focus of the classes also shifted from memorizing algorithms to solving problems. The ‘Introduction to programming in Java’ course was renamed ‘Creative approaches to problem solving in science and engineering using Python’. Professors then divided the class into two groups—those with no coding experience and those with some experience—allowing students who were not familiar with coding, particularly female students who had little or no exposure in high school, to learn to code without feeling intimidated. The findings were surprising. In four years, the number of women quadrupled from ten percent to 40 percent. Harvey Mudd College now produces more female computer scientists than ever before.
In 2014, the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (Division of General Studies; School of Nano-, Bio- and Chemical Engineering; and School of Life Sciences) and Pusan National University (Department of Physics Education) published a joint paper titled ‘The impact of interdisciplinary education in technology and society on the engineering identities of male and female students’. Through a course titled ‘Civilizations and Development’, the research team taught 1) how certain technologies are chosen as useful technologies and advanced, 2) how the selection and advancement of technologies are shaped in historical, political, and cultural contexts, and 3) how all of this leads to the process of generating social demand and organizations. This course allowed engineering students to think about the connection between the role of engineers and social context. Students who took the course expressed a higher level of fondness toward engineering as a profession, a higher level of satisfaction in their future as engineers, and more positive reviews of engineers’ contribution to society. Moreover, there was no statistically significant difference between male and female students who took the course.
Issues outside of school
1) Prejudices of parents and teachers
Some people argue that the lower number of women in science comes down not to educational factors but rather to innate differences. A science teacher at J High School (a co-ed) in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do, commented, “Male students are much better at mathematics and physics, while female students are better at Korean. So, there is an innate difference.” And a science teacher at K Girls’ High School remarked, “I often recommend that students take physics. We even have a physics camp. But no matter what I do, girls aren’t interested in physics. I can’t help but think that there is an innate difference [between girls and boys].”
However, such arguments are not backed by sound logic. Neuroscientists say that there are no differences between ‘science brains’ and ‘humanities brains’. Moreover, the four branches of natural science—physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science—represent artificial divisions. In reality, these branches are intertwined. Some argue that boys are naturally better at physics and girls are naturally better at biology and chemistry, but this reasoning sounds as flawed as the contention that different genes determine people’s abilities to speak English or Chinese.
The fact that there are fewer female students in physics, compared to biology and chemistry, is proof that the environment surrounding physics has more impact on students than their innate ability. Megan Urry, a professor of astrophysics at Yale University once stated, “If the science of physics itself is gender free, the style of physics has everything to do with gender.”
The very idea that boys are better at science might be attributable to teacher prejudice alone. “There are studies that conclude that female science teachers are less biased and that male science teachers have lower expectations for female students,” said Shin Dong-hee, a professor of Science Education at Ewha Womans University. “Even when they provide the same answers, [male] teachers tend to think that girls aren’t good at science.” Gender differences in science achievements have already disappeared. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, conducted by the Oraganisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, male students scored 19 points higher in science than female students in 2000, but female students scored 10 points higher than male students in 2015.
2) Competitive assessment methods
Others point to girls’ lack of confidence in mathematics as a reason they avoid physics. Many female high students have told me that memorizing the facts helps them do well in biology and chemistry, but that it doesn’t work for physics. Some said, “We’re not as good at math as boys, so I’m not confident enough to take physics.”
Many studies have concluded, however, that these ideas are also the result of biases or assessment methods. According to one study, male students tend to overrate their abilities while female students tend to underrate themselves. In another, a group of students were given half an hour to take a math test while a second group wasn’t given a time limit, and the results showed that the girls in the latter group had a larger increase in scores. Yet another study showed that male students scored better when only final answers were graded but female students scored better when partial points were awarded for writing out the correct process.
3) College admission system
A situation unique to Korea further intensifies the gender bias in physics here. It’s easy for people to say, “You should study physics if you want to”. But this doesn’t apply to Korean girls. For one, the author of this article experienced gender bias herself in her school years. And even today there are girls who are unable to study physics because of the college admissions system or the school’s situation. “A few days ago, the school surveyed students about their concentration preferences (humanities or sciences), and it was only in girls’ classes that the teachers looked for students to switch from sciences to humanities,” recounted Jin, a first year student (now in second year) at a High School in Cheongju. “In the second and third years, there are two science classes for girls, and two for boys, and I think they were trying to keep it that way.” Jo Yeon-ju, a third year at Sungmo Girls’ High School in Busan (now graduated) also commented, “Luckily my year is taking physics, but all four classes in the year below are only learning biology and chemistry. I have friends who are studying earth science and physics by themselves, and they’re having a hard time.” But the teachers say that there is nothing they can do.
The role of public education is to provide equal opportunities to all
It is clear why we need gender-inclusive science textbooks: to cultivate citizens who will live in a society that is inseparable from science and technology. It is also important because everyone needs to be given a fair chance. Ham, who studies medical sociology, said, “Being a science major in high school helped me so much in graduate school. Social science requires scholars to prove their points using scientific methods. And my colleagues who had been humanities majors in high school found statistics difficult to understand.” Kim, who produces documentaries, remarked, “After I started working, I realized that it would have been better if I’d majored in basic science and then studied something else based on that.” Both had studied science in high school but ended up going to liberal arts colleges. They said they changed their concentrations because engineering courses seemed daunting and, because of the lack of role models, they weren’t sure what kind of jobs an engineering degree would get them.
For a textbook to be of help to everyone as an educational medium, it must abide by the principles of objectivity, fairness, and universality in the choice and arrangement of content. Education without these three principles intensifies and further reinforces social and cultural inequality.
“Will changing the textbooks directly increase the number of girls in physics classes?” I’m not sure. No one has yet succeeded in improving the textbooks. Gender-biased textbooks are probably not the only reason girls don’t choose to study science. Perhaps the aforementioned prejudices, teaching methods, and means of assessment have a bigger impact. Nevertheless, these cannot be grounds to leave gender-biased textbooks the way they are now. We have a problem and a partial solution. Now we need to experiment.
What kind of scientists will we raise?
Occasionally I imagine how my life would have been different had I studied with a gender-inclusive textbook containing a lot of social context. In the summer of 2015, I went to research an underwater robot for an article. The robot was the first one to be used to capture footage of the Sewol Ferry after the sinking tragedy in 2014. It is now being trained to find relics in ships that sank in the West Sea during the Goryeo dynasty. I was surprised that robots were being used in such diverse social activities. It opened my eyes, and I envied those in the field. Had I known about the things that we could do with robots, I might have stuck with engineering, conducting research. (Not that I don’t enjoy my current line of work very much.)
We need greater diversity and more questions in the science industry. History is proof. Andrew Szeri, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, focused on the fluid dynamics of gels in his research to develop anti-HIV microbicides that women can insert in their vaginas. Women’s social status is so low in some African countries that it is difficult for them to ask men to use contraceptives such as condoms. When the research to improve the quality of life for women began, women scientists flocked to Szeri’s lab. Lynn Margulis proposed the shocking hypothesis (now an established theory) that eukaryotic cells developed through bacterial symbiosis. In doing so, she broadened the horizon of biology. The world’s most renowned zoologist Jane Goodall transformed the paradigms of zoology by forming emotional relationships with chimpanzees to study them instead of objectifying and utilizing them.
In sum, the work of creating gender-inclusive textbooks does not end with the textbooks. It is related to bigger, more important questions. What kind of scientists will our society produce in the future? Ultimately, what kind of scientist is a better scientist and how will we define them? What kind of scientific knowledge will we create?
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