Fausto-Sterling, Anne

views updated

Fausto-Sterling, Anne

American Professor of Biology and Women's Studies 1944-

Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling is a Professor of Biology and Women's Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She teaches in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry. Her scholarly interests include developmental genetics, intersexuality (the study of people born with atypical sexual anatomy), and the interplay between science and gender. Her laboratory at Brown researches the evolution of sexual reproduction and regeneration in flatworms of the genus Planaria.

Fausto-Sterling is best known for her work on race, gender roles, and human sexuality. In addition to her teaching and research at Brown University, she has given lectures and held workshops on many campuses across the United States. The message she conveys to her audience is that gender plays an important role in how science is carried out and reported, and that science influences the perception of gender differences. Fausto-Sterling urges students of feminist scholarship to seek a broad understanding of scientific practices and knowledge.

Fausto-Sterling has been a faculty member at Brown for more than twenty-five years and has written a number of influential books on gender, development, and biology. These controversial but popular works (controversial because she criticizes the research practices of her colleagues) examine how race and gender have structured scientific practices and knowledge. In Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Men and Women, Fausto-Sterling evaluates the scientific merit of studies on the biological basis of behavioral differences between men and women. She cautions the public to accept the results of these studies with skepticism, arguing that many theories set forth by this line of research are poorly supported by scientific evidence. In Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality, Fausto-Sterling discusses how human society influences the formation and dissemination of biological knowledge about animal and human sexuality.

Fausto-Sterling has received numerous honors and awards and has been elected to the membership of several prestigious scientific societies. Her honors come from the fields of science and the humanities. She received an honorable mention in The Best American Essays of 1994 for a piece on intersexuality entitled "The Five Sexes." In 1995 she received a Women of Distinction Award from the City University of New York. Her biography was also profiled in No Universal Constants: Journeys of Women in Science and Engineering. Fausto-Sterling is a Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Judy P. Sheen


Ambrose, Susan A., Kristin L. Dunkle, Barbara B. Lazarus, Indira Nair, and Deborah A. Harkus. Journeys of Women in Science and Engineering: No Universal Constants. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Men and Women. New York: Basic Books, 1992.

. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books, 2000.