What Knowers Know Well: Women, Work, and the Academy

In Heidi E. Grasswick (ed.), Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. pp. 157-179 (2011)
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Research on the status and experience of women in academia in the last 30 years has challenged conventional explanations of persistent gender inequality, bringing into sharp focus the cumulative impact of small scale, often unintentional differences in recognition and response: the patterns of 'post-civil rights era' dis­crimination made famous by the 1999 report on the status of women in the MIT School of Science. I argue that feminist standpoint theory is a useful resource for understanding how this sea change in understanding gender inequity was realized. At the same time, close attention to activist research on workplace environment issues suggests ways in which our understanding of standpoint theory can fruitfully be refined. I focus on the implications of two sets of distinctions: between types of epistemic injustice (and correlative advantage) that may affect marginalized knowers; and between the resources of situated knowledge and those of a critical standpoint on knowledge production.



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Alison Wylie
University of British Columbia