Feminist empiricism

Feminist empiricism is a perspective within feminist research that combines the objectives and observations of feminism with the research methods and empiricism.[1] Feminist empiricism is typically connected to mainstream notions of positivism. Feminist empiricism proposes that feminist theories can be objectively proven through evidence. Feminist empiricism critiques what it perceives to be inadequacies and biases within mainstream research methods, including positivism.[1]

Feminist empiricism is one of three main feminist epistemological perspectives. The other two are standpoint feminism and post-structural/postmodern feminism.[2]


In international relations rationalist feminism employs feminist empiricism to explain the political landscape. Rationalist feminism examines state, transnational and institutional actors, and specifically looks at causal relationships between these actors and gender issues. Quantitative data is used to relate gender to these phenomena. This may be done by directly correlating gender data to specific state behaviors, or indirectly by examining a "gender gap" through indirect causal relationships.[2] Popular perspectives linked to rationalist feminism within international relations include conventional constructivism and quantitative peace research.[2]


Standpoint feminism

Among other criticisms, standpoint feminism argues that feminist empiricism cannot explain the way the political world works because the foundations on which it is built are based on the same gendered assumptions that all mainstream scientific inquiries face.[1][3] Feminist empiricism argues that its epistemological outlook, lets it tackle this gender bias.[4]

Post-modern feminism

Post-structural/post-modern feminist epistemology is entirely discursive, seeking to develop understanding through social analysis; to interpret rather than explain feminist theories in the political world.

Feminist empiricism is more likely to favor qualitative data. Objective measurements are seen as important to eliminating the gender bias that exists.[5] Post-structuralism is inherently opposed to the idea of an objective truth in the social sciences. The belief is that those who study within the human sciences are ensnared by the same structures that affect the society in which they study.[6] Post-structural feminism critiques the belief that any viewpoint is impartial; knowledge is not found but constructed.[5] A specific result of this disagreement is the way in which the two theories view gender: feminist empiricism claims that gender variables are based on biological sex, while post-structural/post-modern feminism sees gender as a socially constituted entity.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Campbell, R (1994). "The Virtues of Feminist Empiricism". Hypatia. 9 (1): 90. doi:10.1111/j.1527-2001.1994.tb00111.x. JSTOR 3810438.
  2. ^ a b c d Hansen, L. (17 July 2014). "Ontologies, Epistemologies, Methodologies". In Shepherd, Laura J. (ed.). Gender Matters in Global Politics: A Feminist Introduction to International Relations. Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-134-75252-2.}}
  3. ^ Harding, Sandra G. (1986). The Science Question in Feminism. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9363-3.
  4. ^ Caprioli, M (2004). "Feminist IR Theory and Quantitative Methodology: A Critical Analysis". International Studies Review. 6 (2): 254. doi:10.1111/j.1521-9488.2004.00398.x. JSTOR 3699593.
  5. ^ a b Hawkesworth, M. E. (2006). "Grappling with Claims of Truth". In Hawkesworth, M. E. (ed.). Feminist Inquiry: From Political Conviction to Methodological Innovation. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-3705-4.}}
  6. ^ Buckler, S. (2010). Normative Theory. In D. Marsh, & G. Stoker (Eds.), Theory and Methods in Political Science (p. 170). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Donna Haraway

Donna J. Haraway (born September 6, 1944) is an American Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States. She is a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies, described in the early 1990s as a "feminist, rather loosely a postmodernist". Haraway is the author of numerous foundational books and essays that bring together questions of science and feminism, such as "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" (1985) and "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective" (1988). She is also a leading scholar in contemporary ecofeminism, associated with post-humanism and new materialism movements. Her work criticizes anthropocentrism, emphasizes the self-organizing powers of nonhuman processes, and explores dissonant relations between those processes and cultural practices, rethinking sources of ethics.Haraway has taught Women's Studies and the History of Science at the University of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins University. Haraway's works have contributed to the study of both human-machine and human-animal relations. Her works have sparked debate in primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology. Haraway participated in a collaborative exchange with the feminist theorist Lynn Randolph from 1990 to 1996. Their engagement with specific ideas relating to feminism, technoscience, political consciousness, and other social issues, formed the images and narrative of Haraway's book Modest_Witness for which she received the Society for Social Studies of Science's (4S) Ludwik Fleck Prize in 1999. In September 2000, Haraway was awarded the Society for Social Studies of Science's highest honor, the J. D. Bernal Award, for her "distinguished contributions" to the field. Haraway serves on the advisory board for numerous academic journals, including differences, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Contemporary Women's Writing, and Environmental Humanities.


In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiricism emphasises the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. However, empiricists may argue that traditions (or customs) arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasises evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that "knowledge is based on experience" and that "knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification". Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.


Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism incorporates the position that societies prioritize the male point of view, and that women are treated unfairly within those societies. Efforts to change that include fighting gender stereotypes and seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women's rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. Changes in dress and acceptable physical activity have often been part of feminist movements.Some scholars consider feminist campaigns to be a main force behind major historical societal changes for women's rights, particularly in the West, where they are near-universally credited with achieving women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Although feminist advocacy is, and has been, mainly focused on women's rights, some feminists, including bell hooks, argue for the inclusion of men's liberation within its aims because they believe that men are also harmed by traditional gender roles.Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues concerning gender.Numerous feminist movements and ideologies have developed over the years and represent different viewpoints and aims. Some forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle class, and college-educated perspectives. This criticism led to the creation of ethnically specific or multicultural forms of feminism, including black feminism and intersectional feminism.

Feminist epistemology

Feminist epistemology is an examination of epistemology (the study of knowledge) from a feminist standpoint. Elizabeth S. Anderson describes feminist epistemology as being concerned with the way in which gender influences our concept of knowledge and "practices of inquiry and justification". It is generally regarded as falling under the umbrella of social epistemology.

Ofelia Schutte

Ofelia Schutte (born 1945) is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of South Florida, where she had served as Professor of Philosophy since 2004, and as Professor of Women's Studies (and chair of the department) from 1999 until 2004. Schutte is recognized by many as a senior Latina feminist philosopher, who has played a crucial role in launching the field of Latin American Philosophy within the United States.

Pieranna Garavaso

Pieranna Garavaso is an analytic philosopher at the University of Minnesota Morris. Her areas of interest include epistemological and metaphysical issues in philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gotlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and feminist epistemology. She received her doctorate in philosophy from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She is the recipient of two distinguished teaching awards: the University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award in 2003 and the Horace T. Morse University of Minnesota Alumni in 2004.


Psychology is the science of behavior and mind (not to be confused with neuroscience, which studies the neural underpinnings of psychological phenomena ex. neural circuits). Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion (affect), intelligence, phenomenology, motivation (conation), brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science" in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draws directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.

Sandra Harding

This article is about the American philosopher, not the Australian sociologist and university administrator of the same name.Sandra G. Harding (born 1935) is an American philosopher of feminist and postcolonial theory, epistemology, research methodology, and philosophy of science. She taught for two decades at the University of Delaware before moving to the University of California, Los Angeles in 1996. She directed the UCLA Center for the Study of Women from 1996 to 2000, and co-edited Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society from 2000 to 2005. She is currently a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Education and Gender Studies at UCLA and a Distinguished Affiliate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University. In 2013 she was awarded the John Desmond Bernal Prize by the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S). (Earlier recipients of this prize include Robert Merton, Thomas S. Kuhn, Mary Douglas, and Joseph Needham.)

She has developed the research standard of “strong objectivity,” and contributed to the articulation of standpoint methodology. This kind of research process starts off from questions that arise in the daily lives of people in oppressed groups. To answer such questions, it “studies up”, examining the principles, practices and cultures of dominant institutions, from the design and management of which oppressed groups have been excluded. She has also contributed to the development of feminist, anti-racist, multicultural, and postcolonial studies of the natural and social sciences, asking the extent to which paradigms like feminist empiricism are useful for promoting to goals of feminist inquiry. She is the author or editor of many books and essays on these topics, and was one of the founders of the fields of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. This work has been influential in the social sciences and in women/gender studies across the disciplines. It has helped to create new kinds of discussions about how best to relink scientific research to pro-democratic goals.

She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Costa Rica, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and the Asian Institute of Technology. She has been a consult to several United Nations organizations including the Pan American Health Organization, UNESCO, the U.N. Commission on Science and Technology for Development, and the U.N. Development Fund for Women. Phi Beta Kappa selected her as a national lecturer in 2007. She has lectured at over 300 colleges, universities, and conferences, on five continents.During what is known now as the "Science Wars", she was part of a debate regarding the value-neutrality of the sciences. This aspect of her work has been criticized by the mathematicians Michael Sullivan, Mary Gray, and Lenore Blum, and by the historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz.Harding referred to Newton's Principia Mathematica as a "rape manual" in her 1986 book "The Science Question in Feminism", a characterization that she later said she regretted.


Thealogy views divine matters with feminine perspectives including but not only feminism. Valerie Saiving, Isaac Bonewits (1976) and Naomi Goldenberg (1979) introduced the concept as a neologism (new word) in feminist terms. Its use then widened to mean all feminine ideas of the sacred, which Charlotte Caron usefully explained in 1993: "reflection on the divine in feminine or feminist terms". By 1996, when Melissa Raphael published Thealogy and Embodiment, the term was well established.As a neologism, the term derives from two Greek words: thea, θεά, meaning "goddess", the feminine equivalent of theos, "god" (from PIE root *dhes-); and logos, λόγος, plural logoi, often found in English as the suffix -logy, meaning "word", "reason" or "plan", and in Greek philosophy and theology the divine reason implicit in the cosmos.Thealogy has areas in common with feminist theology, the study of God from a feminist perspective, often emphasising monotheism. Thus the relation is an overlap as thealogy is not limited to deity in spite of its etymology; the two fields have been described as both related and interdependent.

Women's studies

Women's studies is an academic field that draws on feminist and interdisciplinary methods in order to place women’s lives and experiences at the center of study, while examining social and cultural constructs of gender; systems of privilege and oppression; and the relationships between power and gender as they intersect with other identities and social locations such as race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, and disability.Popular theories within the field of women's studies include feminist theory, standpoint theory, intersectionality, multiculturalism, transnational feminism, social justice, affect studies, agency, biopolitics, materialisms, and embodiment. Research practices and methodologies associated with women's studies include ethnography, autoethnography, focus groups, surveys, community-based research, discourse analysis, and reading practices associated with critical theory, post-structuralism, and queer theory. The field researches and critiques societal norms of gender, race, class, sexuality, and other social inequalities.

Women's studies is closely related to the fields of gender studies, feminist studies, and sexuality studies, and more broadly related to the fields of cultural studies, ethnic studies, and African-American studies. Women's studies courses are offered in over seven hundred institutions in the United States, and globally in more than forty countries.

Academic fields
Related subjects
Feminist theorists

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.