Harding, Sandra

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Born circa 1950; no other biographical data available

Sandra Harding is an accomplished professor, philosopher, writer, and editor. For 20 years she taught at the University of Delaware and then joined UCLA in 1996. She currently is a professor of education and women's studies for the graduate school at UCLA, where she lectures theories and philosophies on women's issues concerning science, feminism, sociology, and philosophy.

Dedicated to lecturing and writing, Harding has a countless list of accomplishments. She is the author or editor of 10 books and special journal issues including: Can Theories Be Refuted? (1976), Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (1983), The Science Question in Feminism (1986), Sex and the Scientific Inquiry (1987), Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues (1987), The Process of Science (1987), Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives (1991), The "Racial" Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future (1993), and Is Science Multicultural? Postcolonialisms, Feminisms and Epistemologies (1998). She has lectured at over 200 universities and conferences in North America, Europe, South Africa, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Central America. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Costa Rica, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) at Zurich. She has also been a consultant to several United Nations organizations, including the Pan American Health Organization, UNESCO's World Science Report, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

Harding focuses on the connection between women and science in her lectures and writings. In lectures for the World Health Organization, she concerned herself with women's health and science issues pertaining to research and clinics. "In the ministries of health, they think of women as uteruses with feet," she said. "If the feet can get the uterus into the clinic, they don't care what happens to the woman. They're only concerned with reproductive issues." Harding was particularly concerned about this scientific research issue because women tend not to come to clinics because of this dehumanization, and their health, as well as the community as a whole, suffers. "It's women who deliver health on an everyday basis," she said. "Not only to their children but to the elderly and sick."

Harding explores science and the differences in feminist theory. According to Harding, there are two feminism theories: multicultural feminism and global feminism. Multicultural feminism studies cultural differences in American women compared to histories, cultures, concerns, and lives led by other women. Global feminism, on the other hand, focuses on how women are located in the global political economy and questions what the relationship is like between American women's lives and the lives of women all over the world. "We need to develop in our science studies a more suitable multicultural global context," Harding comments as she stresses the importance of the effect of women on science and the effect of science on women.

The Process of Science discusses the same issues presented in The Science Question in Feminism. However, The Process of Science is more condensed. Harding states the feminism in science problem as seen by traditional science. She acknowledges feminism as a political movement for social change. Taking the "scientific approach" of the pursuit of value-neutral, objective, dispassionate, and disinterested scientific method, political feminism does not fit or belong in science. That is, according to the objectivity of the scientific method. Science is supposed to be protected from politics, according to Harding. To argue this, she presents the problem of male bias in scientific research just as science could claim feminist bias in research due to the political agenda of feminism. Harding is presenting, in essence, a two-way political agenda affecting science as a whole. The claims she makes in The Process of Science is that science and politics truly affect one another in regard to the feminism and nonfeminism movements.

In Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?, Harding insists on sexual equality in the sciences, but not only for ethical reasons of equal opportunity between men and women. She sees feminism as a way to make science more truthful and resourceful in regard to the specific criteria and needs for women. "We can hold that our own account also has social causes," she wrote. She believes that research should begin with the lives of women rather than of men, who are the dominant group. She also adds that women should take into consideration other oppressed groups when conducting scientific research and not listen to all dominant groups. Harding believes focusing on dominant classes creates a distortion in scientific theory and research. "They are the powerful tide against which women must swim," she wrote. Finally, Harding emphasizes that feminism in science is not the complete answer to truth in science. She believes that the most objective research realm would be submitted in an egalitarian society, one without dominant and oppressed societal classes.

Other Works:

Contributor to: Beyond Domination: New Perspectives on Women and Philosophy (1984), The Process of Science: Contemporary Philosophical Approaches to Understanding Scientific Practice (1987), Feminism & Science (1989), Feminist Theory in Practice and Process (1989), Feminism/ Postmodernism (1990), (En) gendering Knowledge: Feminists in Academe (1991), Inventing Women: Science, Technology, and Gender (1992), The Centennial Review (1992), Signs (1992), Social Research (1992), American Feminist Thought at Century's End: A Reader (1993), Feminist Epistemologies (1993), Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (1994), Isis (1995), Missing Links: Gender Equity in Science and Technology for Development (1995), Synthese (1995), Women Writing Culture (1995), Knowledge, Difference, and Power: Essays Inspired by Women's Ways of Knowing (1996), Reviews in Anthropology (1996), Radical Philosophy (1996), Science Wars (1996), Social Text (1996), Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science (1997), Men Doing Feminism (1998), editor with U. Narayan of two special issues, Hypatia (Spring, 1998; Summer, 1998).


Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Spring 1990). Contemporary Sociology (July 1992). Gender & Society: Official Publication of Sociologists for Women in Society (June 1993). Isis (September 1992). Library & Information Science Research (January 1993). Philosophical Review (April 1993). Philosophy of Science (September 1990). Sociology (August 1992). Zygon (1995).


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