McNair Scholar explores science, gender & feminism

Posted by on Monday, September 15, 2014 18:57 - 0 Comments

McNair Scholar explores science, gender & feminism

For centuries, feminism has been the subject of polarizing debates regarding science and social construct.

UALR student, Spencer BriggsSpencer Briggs of Gillett, a double major in biology and interdisciplinary studies, recently toed the dividing line between biology and culture at a research symposium hosted by the UALR McNair Scholars Program on Sept. 2.

Briggs said her goal is to move beyond the initial debate and reach an understanding of both the biology and social construct of gender.

“Not a lot of feminist theory engages biology,” said Briggs. “This is hard science that shows nature isn’t always as fixed as you would think it is.”

Her research includes a historical context of the debate and critical analyses of scientific theories like Simon Baron-Cohen’s brain organization theory.

The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, “demands the attention of scientists and feminists and calls for an abandonment of either extreme response to behavioral sex differences between men and women,” according to Briggs.

Her Sept. 2 presentation was titled “Neuroplasticity & Feminism: The Nature/Culture Debate on Gender.”

Briggs is a member of the McNair Scholars Program, a federally funded program that prepares a select group of students for successful entrance into graduate degree programs.

“Ultimately, the program teaches you the application process and tips on what people expect. It’s geared toward minorities, and many of us are first-time college students,” said Briggs.

The program also cultivates knowledge and understanding of in-depth research, a skill that is essential for success in post-graduate studies, and one that Briggs used in her research on gender.

Article originally published by University of Arkansas at Little Rock on September 9, 2014.

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