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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > August 2017 > Blinded by sexism

Blinded by sexism

Science is not immune from gender stereotypes


When I set out to write a book on what science tells us about women, there was one person I had to meet. So I found myself on the sun-drenched road to Winters, a town in California’s Sacramento Valley. Here, a picturesque walnut farm is home to an incredible scientist—a thinker whose work, one researcher told me, had reduced her to tears.

Anthropologist and primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy—now professor emerita at the University of California, Davis—can reasonably be credited with transforming the way biologists think about females.“Everything I am interested in, initially, it’s personal,” she told me as we parked ourselves in deep couches outside her study. Now in her seventies, Hrdy came from a conservative American family which made its money from oil. “I grew up in south Texas, a deeply patriarchal, deeply racist part of the world.” The juxtaposition between this and her current liberal life could not be starker. That’s no accident.

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In Prospect’s August issue: Adam Tooze, Helen Thompson, Ben Chu, Julian Baggini, Tom Clark and Hepzibah Anderson reveal the secret history of the banking crisis and its impact over the last decade. Tooze examines the secret history itself, suggesting the work done to repair the world’s finances could mean another crisis is just around the corner. Chu asks why more people at the top of the banks that failed haven’t faced more serious repercussions, and Anderson shows how post-crash Britain has retreated into cosiness. Elsewhere in the issue Alison Wolf asks whether universities are doing any good, and David Goldblatt explores how the decision to take football off free-to-view television in Argentina could backfire for the government. Also in this issue: Kasia Boddy asks why writers are still addicted to watching boxing despite falling viewing figures, Andrew Dickson profiles Tom Stoppard, Stephen Bush explains how Jeremy Corbyn learned to compromise and David Omand outlines the cyber-security challenges facing the UK and the wider world.