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Sue V. Rosser, ed., WOMEN, SCIENCE, AND MYTH: GENDER BELIEFS FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008. 502[p], $85.00, ISBN 978-1598840957.

Reviewed by Evelyn Day

Sue Rosser has written extensively on the intersection of gender and science from a feminist perspective. Her expertise is recognizable in the editor-ship of this new volume of essays as well as in her authorship or co-author-ship of several of the essays in the collection. Rosser has also contributed an introduction and conclusion.

Forty-eight short essays (most between five and fifteen pages) cover this broad subject. These essays have a dual focus on the conflict between the science and mythology surrounding female biology and women's place in society and the struggles of women to become contributing members of the scientific community. This overview of many aspects of the subject would be an excellent resource for dozens of research topics in women's studies or in the history and philosophy of science. Each essay is followed by references as well as suggestions for further reading. The volume also includes an index, a glossary, and a short appendix of statistical tables.

All but one of the essays is signed, but there are no notes about the authors, which is annoying, Oddly enough, the essay on mathematics seems to have been taken from another ABC-CLIO reference source.

The first section of the volume, arranged chronologically, focuses on the participation of women in the sciences from antiquity to the twentieth century. The remaining sections are arranged thematically; they examine the mythology of and scientific beliefs about women (personality/rationality/emotionality) and portray the major women contributors in various fields (e.g., chemistry, physics/astronomy). The section titled "Aspects of Human Biology and Behavior" has a whole series of essays of its own, for two reasons: there is quite a body of mythology about the "differences between the sexes," and the health and biological sciences have traditionally been more hospitable to women as practitioners and researchers. The "Discrimination" section also rates several essays, as does "Institutions." "Other Perspectives on Gender and Myths and Beliefs in Scientific Research" is a catch-all section for some thought-provoking subjects that don't fit in elsewhere (e.g., Eco-feminism, CyberFeminism).

The essays in this volume range from fairly simple to fairly academic (feminist theory) and focus on the U.S. and Western Europe. Although this is nominally a reference book, it could just as easily make sense to shelve it in the stacks. It will be highly useful for undergraduate students looking for a starting place for their research or ideas about how to focus their themes.

[Evelyn Day is a social sciences research librarian at Southern Methodist University.]

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Title Annotation:Women, Science, and Myth: Gender Beliefs from Antiquity to the Present
Author:Day, Evelyn
Publication:Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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