27 SES 11 C, Values, Norms and Gender Issues
Can material feminism make gender matter in 21st science education research?
This paper introduces, and then discusses, how material feminism may offer a framework for science education researchers to engage with material by using the concepts of agential realism, agential cuts and apparatus.
Research in gender and education has evolved from a focus on issues of equity and access, to difference and intersectionality, and more recently subjectivity and identity. While science education research has continued its focus on access, difference, and identity, gender research within the field has become fused, and possibly lost, within other social categories. The challenge in science education is that despite calls from feminist researchers for a more nuanced examination of gender in science education, the areas of science education research that produced the most published articles focus on changing students’ science conceptions, nature of science, teachers’ professional development or examining teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. Moreover researchers have rarely addressed gender issues within these categories (Hussenius, et. al., 2013; Scantlebury & Martin, 2010).
Material feminism could engage science education researchers in re-examining their practice from different perspectives and approaches through considering how the material influences and impacts science teaching and learning, providing a framework for structuring research questions, data analysis and interpretation and a re-visioning of how the material influences those engaged with research. Taking a material feminist stance towards science education would provide teachers, students, researchers and other stakeholders the opportunity to consider how the material comes to matter.
Material feminism, especially focused discussions regarding science and technology, are presented by Barad (2003; 2007), Haraway (1997) and Tuana (2008). Arguably Barad’s theoretical developments may provide the richest framework for science educators. Building upon feminist theory, and combined with Bohr’ theory of the atom, Barad (2007) re-engaged the material as a critical aspect of feminist theory. In this theoretical framework, matter is agentic and intra-acts with the human to produce phenomena that are co-constituted and emergent (Taylor & Ivinson, 2013). Barad (2007) introduced several concepts in arguing the need for ‘making matter matter’, such as intra-actions, agential realism, and apparatus.
Intra-actions position matter as agentic and as important as discourse. Humans’ engagement of, and with matter, occurs through intra-actions that generates material-discursive practices. The implications for science education research could be in reframing studies to consider how the material, such as the physical arrangement of laboratories, the use of laboratory equipment, and the body/embodiment of who is a scientist could influence the teaching and learning of science produces material-discursive practices.
Agential realism examined intra-actions between human and non-human entities in particular contexts (Barad, 2007). Within science education research, this engagement of material with discursive practices promotes the opportunity for agential cuts. Barad (2007) argued that the researcher and subject are not bounded, nor is there separation between knower and subject. Rather knower and subject are part of the same reality (Lykke, 2010). Within agential realism the researcher subject and the object of the research are defined and contextualized. The defined relationship between the researcher subject and the object of the research establishes a boundary that is not fixed but a momentary phenomena. An agential cut occurs when the boundary is defined and used.
Apparatus are the means for agential cuts to occur. They emerge from the specific material-discursive practices and can constructresearcher subject and the object of the research. Thus, when involved in/with/by research, material feminism would assume that a researcher clearly articulate her practices because those are evidence of what comes to matter, and also give direction to the agential cuts that establish temporary boundaries which generate phenomena.
Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801–831. Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke University Press. Buck, G. A. & Quigley, C. (2013). Allowing our research on urban, low-ses, African American girls and science education to actively and continually rewrite itself. In J. Bianchini, V. Akerson, A. C. Barton, O. Lee, & A. Rodriguez (Eds.), Moving the equity agenda forward: Equity research, practice, and policy in science education, (pp. 173-189). New York: Springer. Danielsson, A., Andersson, K., Gullberg, A., Hussenius, A., & Scantlebury, K. (2013). Science = nature? An exploration of the places primary school student teachers associate with science. Paper presented at European Science Education Research (ESERA) Annual Meeting, Nicosia, Cyprus. Haraway, D. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse. London: Routledge. Harding, S. (1986). The science question in feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Hirdman, Y. (1990). Genussystemet SOU 1990:44, Demokrati och makt i Sverige. Stockholm. Hussénius, A., & Scantlebury, K. (2011). Witches, alchemists, poisoner and scientists: The changing image of chemistry. In P. Gilmer, M-H. Chiu & D. Treagust. (Eds.). Celebrating 100th anniversary of Marie Curie's Nobel award in chemistry in 2011. (pp. 125-137). New York: Sense Publishing. Hussénius, A., Scantlebury, K., Andersson, K. & Gullberg, A. (2013). Ignoring half the sky: A feminist perspective on the missing standpoints in science education research. In N. Mansour & R. Wegerif (Eds.) Science education for diversity in knowledge society. (pp. 301-315). New York: Springer. Lykke, N. (2010). Feminist studies: A guide to intersectional theory, methodology and writing. Routledge. Quinn, J. (2013a). New learning worlds: the significance of nature in the lives of marginalised young people. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 34(5), 716–730. doi:10.1080/01596306.2013.728366 Quinn, J. (2013b). Theorising learning and nature: post-human possibilities and problems. Gender and Education, 25(6), 738–753. Scantlebury, K. & Martin, S. (2010). How does she know? Re-visioning conceptual change from feminist perspectives. In W. M Roth (Ed.) Re/structuring science education: Reuniting sociological and psychological perspectives. (pp. 173-186). New York: Springer Taylor, C. A. & Ivinson, G. (2013). Material Feminisms: New directions for education. Gender and Education, 25(6), 665-670. Tuana, N. (2008). Viscous porosity: Witnessing Katrina. In S. Alaimo & S. Hekman (Eds.), Material feminisms (pp. 188–213). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
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