From epigenetics to microbiomics, biosocial research is emerging as a leading-edge science in our postgenomic moment. New findings, research methods, and funding streams focusing on how social inequalities and environmental factors interplay with bodies, biologies, and health outcomes are expanding daily. But where is gender in the biosocial moment?
In a new paper, “Sex/Gender and the Biosocial Turn,” part of special issue on Neurogenderings, lab members Heather Shattuck-Heidorn and Sarah Richardson argue that scientists working to understand how gender affects biology can draw inspiration from recent work studying poverty, racism, and discrimination as biosocial variables -- with some specific considerations for the realm of gender.
Operationalizing gender in biomedical research is complex -- but so are all biosocial variables. Drawing on feminist theory and extensive examples from across human biology, Shattuck-Heidorn and Richardson suggest that gender is already there, evident in the data, ready to be brought into hypothesis-based scientific research.
This article invites feminist scientists to engage biosocial frameworks as a resource for developing methods and theories for the study of sex/gender. Similarly, it calls on biosocial scientists to attend as assiduously to gender as they have to other intersecting foci of analysis, such as racial discrimination and socioeconomic disadvantage.
With a rigorous understanding of gender as intersectional and relationally multidimensional, gender, too, can take a seat at the biosocial table.
From the Harvard GenderSci Lab blog: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/gendersci/blog/sexgender-and-biosocial-turn