A Woman of Science: Sorting Fact and Illusion in Gender and Primatology

  • Pamela J. AsquithEmail author
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Linda Fedigan’s contributions to gender and primatology are discussed in relation to two books that, from a science studies perspective, were key turning points in this aspect of primatology’s history. One is Donna Haraway’s (1989) Primate Visions, and the other is Shirley Strum and Linda Fedigan’s (2000) Primate Encounters. Fedigan’s publications about gender and primatology span years before, during and after these important intellectual syntheses and call to action. Her work is considered here as an object of study by science studies practitioners, for the unique insights she provided to this field, and as a toolkit for testing possible real outcomes of current gender imbalances in primatology and other sciences.


Gender Primatology Science studies Linda Fedigan 



I wish to thank the organizers for the privilege and pleasure of the opportunity to reflect on Linda Fedigan’s work at the Festschrift conference in the magnificent surroundings of the Banff Centre. Many hands are involved in the organization of a conference, but special thanks to Jeremy Hogan and the editors of the Festschrift. Thanks to Mary Pavelka for getting this particular ball rolling on singling out Linda’s contributions to gender and primatology. Thanks to two reviewers of the paper for helpful comments. Thanks to Linda Fedigan for responding to questions so rapidly and with good humour as I sought the background to her thoughts on gender and primatology. I thank her too for being such a fine scholar, teacher, colleague and friend over many years.


  1. Addessi E, Borgi M, Palagi E (2012) Is primatology an equal-opportunity discipline? PLoS One 7(1):1–6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Collingwood RG (1946) The idea of history. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Crook JH (1983) A matter of sex. Nature 302:359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fedigan LM (1982) Primate paradigms: sex roles and social bonds, 2nd edn. Montreal, Eden Press, 1992Google Scholar
  5. Fedigan LM (1984) Sex ratios and sex differences in primatology (a review of female primates: studies by women primatologists). Amer J Primatol 7:305–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fedigan LM (1986) The changing role of women in models of human evolution. Ann Rev in Anthropol 15:25–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fedigan LM (1994) Science and the successful female: why there are so many female primatologists. Am Anthropol 96(3):529–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fedigan LM (1996) Changing views of female life histories. In: Morbeck ME, Galloway A, Zihlman AL (eds) The evolving female: a life-history perspective. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, pp 15–26Google Scholar
  9. Fedigan LM (1997) Is primatology a feminist science? In: Hager L (ed) Women in human evolution. Routledge, London, pp 56–75Google Scholar
  10. Fedigan LM (2000a) Gender encounters. In: Strum S, Fedigan LM (eds) Primate encounters. Models of science, gender and society. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 498–520Google Scholar
  11. Fedigan LM (2000b) A view on the science: physical anthropology at the millennium. Amer J Phys Anthropol 113:451–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fedigan LM (2001) The paradox of feminist primatology - the goddess’s discipline? In: Creager ANH, Lunbeck E, Schiebinger L (eds) Feminism in twentieth century science, technology and medicine. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 46–72Google Scholar
  13. Fedigan LM (2009) The paradox of feminist primatology. In: Wyer M et al (eds) Women, science and technology: a reader in feminist science studies, 2nd edn. Routledge, New York, pp 256–270Google Scholar
  14. Fedigan LM (2014) Questions my mother asked me: an inside view of a thirty-year primate project in a Costa Rican National Park. In: Strier KB (ed) Primate ethnographies. Upper Saddle River, Bergen, pp 186–195Google Scholar
  15. Fedigan LM, Fedigan L (1989) Gender and the study of primates. In: Morgan S (ed) Gender and anthropology. Critical reviews for research and teaching. American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC, pp 41–64Google Scholar
  16. Fedigan LM, Jack KM (2013) Sexual conflict in white-faced capuchins: It’s not whether you win or lose. In: Fisher M, Garcia JR, Chang RS (eds) Evolution’s empress: Darwinian perspectives on women. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 281–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haraway D (1978) Animal sociology and a natural economy of the body politic, part II: the past is the contested zone: human nature and theories of production and reproduction in primate behavior studies. Signs 4:37–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haraway D (1989) Primate visions: gender, race and nature in the world of modern science. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Haraway D (2000) Morphing in the order: flexible strategies, feminist science studies, and primate revisions. In: Strum S, Fedigan LM (eds) Primate encounters. Models of science, gender and society. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 398–420Google Scholar
  20. Harding S (1986) The science question in feminism. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  21. Isbell LA, Truman PY, Harcourt AH (2012) Stag parties linger: continued gender bias in a female-rich scientific discipline. PLoS One 7(11):1–4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keller EF (1985) Reflections on gender and science. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  23. Landau M (1984) Human evolution as narrative. Amer Scientist 72:262–268Google Scholar
  24. Landau M (1991) Narratives of human evolution. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  25. Snow CP (1959) Two cultures and the scientific revolution. The American Library, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Strum S, Fedigan LM (eds) (2000) Primate encounters. Models of science, gender and society. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental StudiesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Linacre CollegeOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations