Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 447

Rethinking Science and Technology: Gender, Theory and Practice (Revision 1)

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. An introductory level WGST course is recommended.

Precluded Course: WGST 547, WMST 446, and WGST 446.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Women's & Gender Studies home page

WGST 447 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Science and technology constitute central and directive forces in economic and social development worldwide. This is amply demonstrated by the dominant role that science and technology assume in contemporary societies.

Although the numbers of women have increased in many careers, including those that have traditionally been male-dominated, women continue to be underrepresented in sub-fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and in influential positions within these disciplines.

We have seen dramatic increases in the number of women participating in some of the science and technology disciplines. However, women's involvement in others has been steadily declining over the last few decades. The problem is not simply a matter of numbers. Women's historical exclusion from STEM has had a profound impact on the generation of scientific knowledge within these disciplines as well as on how scientific knowledge has been applied.

Course Outline

The primary objective of this course is to provide you with the resources that will inform your knowledge and understanding about how women's roles in the STEM fields have evolved over time, the major forces contributing to this evolution, and the consequences of women's exclusion from STEM.

This course draws on sociological, feminist, and historical theory, data, and interpretations to explore women's roles in STEM and computing disciplines. When you participate fully in this course–through studying the assigned materials and completing all of the tasks that are set out for you–you should have a critical awareness and knowledge of:

  • the personal and social consequences of gender stereotyping
  • how methods of social inquiry and theory affect our understanding and knowledge of women's place in STEM education and careers
  • factors affecting women's participation and exclusion in STEM education and careers
  • consequences of women's exclusion on the production of scientific and technical knowledge
  • meaningful strategies to negotiate change that will promote women's greater involvement in STEM.

Although the topics introduced will overlap from one unit to another, this course is divided into six discrete units.

  • Unit 1—Women in STEM: An Overview
  • Unit 2—Gendering our Analysis
  • Unit 3—Theoretical Frameworks
  • Unit 4—The "Cultures" Within
  • Unit 5—Scientific Knowledge
  • Unit 6—Negotiating Change


To receive credit for this course, students must complete all of the assignments (oral and written), and achieve a final composite mark of at least "D" (50 percent).

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Assignment 1: Unit 1 oral "quiz" Assignment 2: Unit 2 oral "quiz" Assignment 3: Take-home written review exercise Assignment 4: "Notecards" written exercise Assignment 5: "Notecards" written exercise Assignment 6: Part A – Research paper proposal Assignment 6: Part B – Major research paper Total
10% 10% 15% 15% 15% 10% 25% 100%

All assignments are open book. To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

The course materials for Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 447 Rethinking Science and Technology: Gender, Theory, and Practice include the items listed below:


Bystydzienski, J., & Bird, S. (Ed.)(2006). Women in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: Removing barriers. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Schiebinger, L. (Ed.)(2008). Gendered innovations in science and engineering. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools: http://library.athabascau.ca.

Other Material

All other materials, including assigned journal article readings, will be accessed online.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

The Challenge for credit has two components: a major research paper and an invigilated examination. To receive credit you must complete both components and achieve a grade of “D” (50 percent) or higher on each activity. Credit will be awarded as either a pass or fail.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, August 28, 2012.

Updated May 27 2016 by Student & Academic Services