Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 547

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

WGST 547 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study

Credits: 3

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: WGST 547 cannot be taken if credit has already been obtained for Athabasca University's WGST 305 or WGST 447.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


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 Objectives

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.

Course Structure

Although the topics introduced will overlap from one unit to another, this course is divided into four discrete units. Each unit begins with a set of learning objectives. Within each unit you will find two related sections, each with its own required readings, commentaries, and embedded reflection questions.

  • Unit 1—Women in STEM: An Overview
  • Unit 2—Theoretical Frameworks
  • Unit 3—The “Cultures” Within
  • Unit 4—Negotiating Change

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

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

Course Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 20%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 20%
Assignment 4 40%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The course materials for Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) 547 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.
  • Harding, S. (2008). Sciences from below: Feminisms, postcolonialities, and modernities. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
  • Rosser, S. (2004). The science glass ceiling: Academic women scientists and the struggle to succeed. NY: Routledge. ( Note: This text will form the basis for the final assignment in this course. )
  • 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.

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, December 1, 2011.