PREVIEW SCIENCE FESTIVAL
_ Boys’ club
Science is regarded by boys, and subsequently men, as their exclusive domain, according to sociology professor Hilary Rose. She cites as evidence two statistics: there are only two female professors of physics in Britain and fewer than five per cent of the members of the lloyal Society, science’s elite body, are women. Perhaps not particularly surprising - similar imbalances can be found in just about any profession - but Rose is concerned about the effect the male domination of science has on our environment.
In her forthcoming book love, Power and Knowledge - Towards a Feminist Transformation of Science, Rose puts forward the argument that science’s desire to dominate nature has patriarchal characteristics. ‘We are faced with an enormous environmental crisis about the relationship of humans to the environment,’ she says. ‘A feminist science requires a responsibility towards nature. We need a lot more women in science it it is to become more socially responsible.’
Although Rose argues that women are more likely to respect nature because they are traditionally involved in caring for children, she is not promoting a biological explanation
Marie Curie, a scientist who succeeded in a man’s world (courtesy of Marie Curie Cancer care) for male dominance of science. Learned roles at a personal, individual level are magnified, creating a ‘masculine’ scientific community. ‘Boys pick up an understanding that tools increase their masculinity at an early age,’ she says. This frequently leads to girls being pushed aside by boys in the stampede for equipment and computers at school and discourages them from pursuing an interest in science. That’s not to say there are no eminent women scientists, but liose believes they have to struggle harder and be more brilliant than their male counterparts if they are to succeed. (Eddie Cibb) llilary Rose will discuss a feminist approach to science with broadcaster Lesley Biddoch on Thursday 14 April at 7pm in the Senate Room, Old College and chairs a debate on the issue on Friday 15 April at 7pm in Old College.
A computer~generated ‘average’ young, white woman
Are you handsome, average-looking or just plain ugly? Who knows; beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, right? Wrong. llow attractive you are can now be scientifically measured, according to a team of researchers at St Andrews University’s psychology department.
The first step was to show a group of people photographs of complete strangers and ask them to grade them according to how attractive they found them. The researchers then took over 200 measurements of the faces — length of nose, distance between the eyes and so on - and found there were certain characteristics, such as larger-than-average eyes, that consistently featured on the faces that the group found attractive.
Using computer imaging techniques, the researchers were able to construct an ‘average’ face as a comparison for a range of ‘attractiveness’ indicators. Using these indicators, the researchers found they were able to predict with a good degree of accuracy whether people would find a particular lace attractive.
‘Attitudes to attractive faces were more culturally universal than we thought,’ explains research leader David Perrett. ‘If you take an Afro- Caribbean face, it’s quite different in shape but the same variables of attractiveness are still apparent.’
Perrett believes the results could be of interest to the beauty and cosmetics industry, but related work on facial characteristics is more likely to be used as a forensic tool to catch criminals. Using the same computer imaging system, the research team has experimented with exaggerating facial characteristics to produce caricatures of famous people. The pictures are only subtly altered - the people shown the images often couldn’t tell which was the caricature - but the researchers found the enhanced images led to improved recognition. This technique could have possible use for the police helping witnesses identify criminals. (Eddie Gibb)
David Perrett talks about the research in Face Values
on Sunday 17 April at 4pm in Adam House Theatre.
The Science Festival runs from Friday l—Sziturday 23 April. Full programme and details on ()31 556 6446.
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The List 8—21 April l‘)‘)4 73