Journalist Angela Saini's book on how science is biased against women is winning awards
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 7th January 2018

British science journalist Angela Saini's second book, Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story, has won the book of the year award by the UK's Institute of Physics.

The prestigious award topped a year of acclaim for the book in 2017, which has sparked a much-needed debate on bias in science.

"In Inferior, Saini attempts to get to grips with, and challenge, the large body of (so-called) science that is often used to diminish women, by referring to supposed differences between men and women," wrote Physics World editors when announcing the winner.

For hundreds of years it was commonly told, even by scientists, that women were the inferior sex.

Apparently their bodies were weaker, their minds feebler and more prone to emotional instability. And therefore their roles in society were deemed to be subservient.

But science has not only mostly ignored women, but the bias against them has affected a lot of important research too, says Saini in the book.

"Whether looking at intelligence or emotion, cognition or behavior, science has continued to tell us that men and women are fundamentally different. Biologists claim that women are better suited to raising families or are, more gently, uniquely empathetic," says the book's blurb.

"Men, on the other hand, continue to be described as excelling at tasks that require logic, spatial reasoning, and motor skills. But a huge wave of research is now revealing an alternative version of what we thought we knew. The new woman revealed by this scientific data is as strong, strategic, and smart as anyone else."

The book is written in a "clear and non-judgemental tone," said the editors when choosing her book as the winner.

One clear example of how women are being over-looked by science?

"Periods are a perfect case in point. It’s no surprise that menstruation was ignored for so long when men didn’t experience it. It’s only fairly recently that women’s health has soared up the agenda," she writes.

"Until a few years ago, it was routine for women not even to be included in clinical studies for new drugs. Thanks to years of dedicated activism, mainly on the part of female health campaigners in the United States, this is no longer the case."

Angela Saini's first book, Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World, was also received with critical acclaim.

She told Barfi Culture she was "thrilled" to win the award.

"It means even more to me to know that scientists across the spectrum are reading the book, that it is resonating with them, and hopefully it is having an impact."

She is working on a new book about race science, which will be out in 2019 from Fourth Estate.

You can follow Angela Saini on Twitter.

Profile published on 7th January 2018 in the People section

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