Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Gender research and media controversies

A study examined socio-scientific controversies on gender in United States media by focusing on public debates about gender relations in which participants drew on psychological gender research.
Gender research and media controversies
In information societies, social problems are increasingly discussed and solved with the help of science. Efforts to solve social problems with the help of scientific knowledge, however, often result in public controversies. DISPUTING GENDER (Disputing gender. Understanding how psychological gender research is used in public scientific controversies on gender in US-American media) was an EU-funded project that examined the role of psychological knowledge in selected media controversies in the United States, primarily in the 1990s.

Initially, the work involved a clarification of the most significant theoretical notions, such as 'socio-scientific controversy' and 'the public'. This led to finding a relatively reductive notion of public that mainly referred to a traditional public sphere of major newspapers. Following that was a discussion and exploration of other means through which scientists interact with and include the public in their research.

Data collection allowed a full-text search for scientific controversies in United States media that focused on gender-related issues like inequalities on the job market, rape, partnerships and family. Media articles were also selected for analysis.

Results show that socio-scientific controversies on gender inequalities that are conducted with the help of psychological knowledge produce systematic exclusions of certain topics and perspectives. Scientists often use public scientific controversies in order to gain social authority as knowledge makers, which takes the focus off the social problems at stake.

These implications were addressed by a symposium that explored the question of the relation between science and the public more broadly. Innovative ways of relating science and the public, like critical participatory action research, public deliberation and teaching critical science literacy in high schools, were also part of the dissemination. The results will benefit both the scientific community and the general public.

Related information


Life Sciences


Gender research, socio-scientific controversies, United States media, public debates, DISPUTING GENDER
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top