New feminist chemistry class teaches that science is racist

A recent article describes the development of a Feminism and Science course at East Carolina University.

The authors used a framework based on 'Critical Race Theory and intersectional feminism.'

A recent article published in the Journal of Chemical Education describes the development of a Feminism and Science course at East Carolina University (ECU) that was offered at the university. The course, the authors argue, should serve as a “model” for other educators to learn from, ”present[ing] this work as an example of a transformative pedagogical model to dismantle White supremacy in Chemistry.”

The article, titled “A Special Topic Class in Chemistry on Feminism and Science as a Tool to Disrupt the Dysconcious Racism in STEM,” argues for a pedagogical framework based on “Critical Race Theory and intersectional feminism.”

One of their goals “was to shine light, through this process, [on] how scientific epistemology and culture have strong links with capitalism, enslavement, colonization, and exploitation of female-bodied folks.”

Students also learned the definitions of terms such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and systemic racism. 

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“To navigate the binary of the instructor as all-knowing (sage on the stage) and the students as empty slates, often the instructor would do the same assignment as the students and their response [would] be critiqued in class,” the authors wrote. 

To emphasize the need for the course, they referenced a student evaluation, which described a professor criticizing a student for using “male” and “female.”

“The student should not have been called out in class and asked to change their answer because the un-offensive words of ‘male’ and ‘female’ were triggering for the professor,” the evaluation reads. 

The authors said that this response “typifies the kind of criticism and hostility instructors face when they try to use inclusive language in STEM classes.” They wrote that the “scientific miseducation” in claiming a “true science” is an example of “dysconscious racism, defined as an acceptance of dominant White norms and privileges.” 

Other journal articles, as Campus Reform has reported, have made similar arguments. One suggested that, in an attempt to keep perceived political issues out of the classroom, STEM culture often exhibits anti-LGBTQ bias. 

To combat this alleged bias, major grantors such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) have awarded initiatives such as LGBTQ+ Advocacy in STEM. ECU similarly received a grant worth $1,000,000 from an NSF subaward to recruit underrepresented students.

The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, an NSF spokesperson told Campus Reform, is led by the University of North Carolina Greensboro, which provided the subaward to ECU. 

“Since its inception, the LSAMP program has helped more than 600,000 under-represented STEM researchers launch their careers,” the NSF spokesperson said. 

An analysis by Mason Goad with the National Association of Scholars (NAS) documents the increase in these initiatives. Fewer than 1,000 NSF grants used terms related to DEI in 2010, but over ten years later, that number skyrocketed to 2,750. 

[RELATED: Community college gets $15k grant for DEI initiatives in STEM]

These grants currently total nearly $100 million, according to the analysis. 

”NSF is making significant investments in broadening ‘who’ will do science in the future in an increasingly global and diverse world,” the spokesperson said. 

”NSF is encouraging exploration of best practices for increasing diversity and inclusion in the scientific workforce, by focusing both internally in the agency’s work culture and externally with our researchers, partners, and other organizations. The NSF Director is strongly committed to continued inclusivity and the advancement of fundamental research and to provide creative solutions to address our current problems.” 

Goad told Campus Reform that “these major foundations have a great deal of influence on scholarship.” 

If, for example, and this is a real example, the Department of Energy says that grant applicants have to write diversity statements, nuclear physicists have practically no other funding body to turn to if they wish to escape DOE’s politicization of their field,” Goad said.  

He continued to describe DEI in STEM as an “existential threat” that undermines the pursuit of scientific knowledge. “The postmodernists (and critical theorists) see science not as an investigatory process, but as a cultural institution,” Goad said. 

The scientific method, by extension, is not the process of science in the postmodern view, but only the white male’s ‘way of knowing’ adjacent to many others. The postmodernists hold all identity-based ‘ways of knowing’ as equally valid, with the ‘marginalized knowledges’ in need of being centered.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.