A norm critical approach to research in animals and their scientists

Time period: 2018-05-15 to 2019-10-31

Project leader: Ingrid Ahnesjö

Funder: Vinnova

Type of award: Project grant

Total fundning: 373 294 SEK

Purpose and goal: The aim was to survey how views on males, females and what is common in animals interact with norms and perspectives of researchers in evolutionary biology. According to questionnaires and literature overview sexual selection is presented less normative in relation to sex today than 20 years ago, but the change is slow. Thus, there is a need for a continued change in developing the scientific perspectives and an educational need for an increased awareness. The project has resulted in a future course ”Kön i biologi och genusvetenskap” (5hp). Expected results and effects: The results show a change towards less sex-biased presentations for sexual selection, sexual conflict and sexual dimorphisms, but the ”sex-role” concept is used more normatively. The project has resulted in two manuscripts for scientific publishing in evolutionary biology (one on gender-biased assumptions and one on the changing norm in sexual selection), and a future interdisciplinary university course on sex in biology and gender studies. The results are expected to affect evolutionary biology research and education in a norm critical direction. Approach and implementation: We have pursued questionnaires among researchers approaching sexual selection in animals, and analyzed scientific publications (literature overview), in order to identify sex norms in evolutionary behavioral ecology. The coordinator participated in an international meeting on sex-role evolution with a norm critical presentation. Both questionnaires and the literature survey show an initiated norm critical view on sexual selection. A reference group has developed ideas and questionnaires, and the project group did the literature survey.