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10th Annual Conference

The Impact of Globalisation on Mediterranean Countries
A Women's Perspective

July 12-14, 2002 - Marrakech, Morocco

Gender, Science and globalisation

Cristina Mangia
Italian Researcher and Scientist in Lecce.

Science and technology largely support the globalisation process in both top-down and bottom up directions.
First question should be which science we are talking about.

It seems that the modern "western" science based on logic and rationality and isolated form embodied knowledge, is the unique, "universal" form of knowledge.

Unlike traditional, local beliefs of the world, which are socially constructed, the modern scientific knowledge is thought to be determined without any social mediation.
Scientists, making use of an abstract scientific method, are viewed as putting forward statements corresponding to the realities of a directly observable world.

From the beginning, western science affirmed its net separation with humanities, social and economic questions and based its "superiority" on this objectivity.
This dichotomization of the world - reason vs emotion, objective vs subjective, culture vs nature, mind vs matter, public vs -private- had two consequences
  1. it excluded in the past women from science enterprises, being women identified with subjective, emotion, nature etc,
  2. identified science with the men.

These stereotypes about gender and science represent the reason why women are still so few in the scientific world, especially in the most industrialized countries and countries with strongest scientific tradition (Science 1994).

The negative impact of the economic globalisation on the lives of many millions of people (mentioned by many others in this conference) requires more and more to reconsider the role of science and technology have, to reconsider its "neutrality".

Social, ethical, environmental problems cannot be solved anymore without new paradigms for a more global and interdisciplinary approach which should overcome the extreme specialisation of single disciplines and mainly the gap between the humanistic studies and the technological ones.

Let us consider the crucial question of the energy use which is fundamental for quality of life.

In 1999 54.1 per cent of the global energy use is by OECD countries, where less of 20% of world population lives.
OECD North America covers the 49.4%, OECD Europe 35.1%, and OECD Pacific 10.5%.
Fossil fuels accounts for some 80 per cent of the world's primary energy consumption with problems from both environmental and social points of view.
In the 1999 there have been CO2 emissions bigger than 20000 MT with serious consequences on climate and environmental system.
Furthermore, the geographic distribution of the world's energy reserves is quite unbalanced, being, for example, more than 65% of oil concentrated in the Arab countries and this could explain many of the conflicts in that area.
So, to re-invent globalization it is necessary to re-think the science and technology and its connection with humanities.

For me, this means also to make the science gender free, which is not only a question on the presence or absence of women in science, but regard the ways in which the images of gender may, however unwittingly, have shaped the scientific enterprise itself that excluded all the cognitive emotional and human resources labeled as feminine.

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