Gender stereotypes have existed since the beginning of modern man. We've all heard them before; male dominance and female weakness, a controlled male and a flustered female, aggression and passion, and many others that all basically boil down to the same thing. Emily Martin, in her essay entitled The Egg and the Sperm, takes this problem of gender stereotype to a new and much more serious level. As an anthropologist, Martin is concerned with the socio-cultural impacts on many different aspects of everyday life, including biology. In doing her research for this article, Martin was trying to uncover suspicions she had about socio-cultural gender stereotypes, and the affects they had on the diction used to describe egg and sperm interactions in numerous biology books and research reports.
Martin believes that if in fact if her suspicions are true, then what we learn in biology class would be more then just biology. We would also be learning about the cultural beliefs the authors where influenced by when they were writing. If Martin's assertions proved to be true, this meant a very scary thing. It would show that silly, but
serious gender stereotypes were making their way in scientific materials and further into our culture.
When doing her research, Martin made sure that nobody would have any room to criticize her credibility or the credibility of the article. The shear volume of research that she did is shown in the fact that there are over seventy end-notes in The Egg and the Sperm. Martin spent her time reading through endless biology books; from not as well known, to national best sellers like Molecular Biology of the Cell, written by Bruce Alberts. She also found (at the time of research) current material from the biophysics lab at John Hopkins University concerning the egg and the sperm interactions.
But when doing her research, Martin was not looking for new scientific advances in the way the egg and sperm interacted, but more in the way it was described by the author. She would carefully cite key quotations from all of her sources that would help to prove her purpose. She starts out by looking at biology books of the past, and then heads into much more recent books and discoveries.
What Martin finds throughout her research, is almost on the level of disturbing. Throughout her article, Martin is simply just building evidence to support her purpose. After multiple citations and careful scrutiny over the way the egg and sperm interactions were worded, she notices a very distinct trend in their diction. Her results needless to say, were what she was expecting to find when she started the research.
Martin, after careful consideration and researching in unique methods, comes to an overall conclusion that there are cultural influences in the way egg and sperm interactions are presented in textbooks. This conclusion has many serious
implications behind it. Science is supposed to be unbiased, straight to the...