As folks at Geek Feminism put it so well, science is not the oppressor.
That doesn’t mean that science can’t be used oppressively. Just look at all the studies purporting to discover cognitive differences between men and women – ones that oh-so-coincidentally match our cultural notions of what men and women are supposed to be. Even the gender gap in spatial skills, one of the more well-supported differences, turns out to be significantly linked to time spent practicing rather than to underlying biological factors. Of course, that won’t stop plenty of disingenuous folks from pretending it’s all evolutionary, hence biological, hence inevitable, hence not worth resisting.
The answer is not to reject science. Bad money drives out good … but good science drives out bad. So let’s get more scientists who ask challenging questions, more funders willing to support this kind of work, more great studies that show us how to resist the dominant narratives of gender, more scientific literacy among non-scientists, more journalists willing to cover science responsibly. It’s a big job, but someone’s got to do it – and it’s a job we can start today.
(Why yes, I’m thinking about this a lot in the context of The Mismeasure of Woman, which you should go read now.)