The Gender of Things and Spaces

The gender of things and spaces in the sciences

Do scientific things and spaces have gender? This might come as an unthinkable question to space engineers who put astronauts on the moon; to artificial intelligence researchers who construct humanoid robots to assist humanity in saving the planet; to physicists who investigate nature inside a scientific laboratory; to surgeons who struggle to save human lives in state-of-the-art operating theaters. Yet, what seems “unthinkable” to practitioners in science, technology, and medicine, has been common knowledge to scholars working in the humanities and the social sciences: things and spaces can be and have been gendered.
Recent scholarship has given more attention to objects and sites beyond the formal settings of science, raising awareness to domestic and public sites, as well as to commonly available and used artefacts that supported the practice of science. Less attention, has, however, been given to the gendering of these objects and sites, even though this expanded focus raises awareness to and allows for valuation of practioners that are usually left out of the picture, among them women, or queer.
This session investigates the gendering of things and spaces, and how it relates to roles and practices in the sciences. What can be learnt, for instance, about gendered roles and how women practiced science in the spectrum of workplaces (the office, the library, the laboratory, the seminar room, the conference, the home, …) in different periods? Apart from formal roles inscribed in working titles and affiliations, what do we know about gendered practices in different contexts?
We invite papers addressing these and other questions relating to the gendering of things and spaces in the practice of science. Submissions should come with
– an abstract no longer than 250 words (Word document)
– a short bio (max 150) with academic background, research interests and affiliation
And sent by mail to by November 20

The symposium is organized by Brigitte Van Tiggelen, Maria Rentetzi and Annette Lykknes, and is sponsored by the Commission on Women and Gender in History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

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