Funded by an estate gift from the late Dr. Gertraude Wittig, who was herself a biologist, the Feminist Biology Initiative has two components: the Wittig Postdoctoral Fellowship in Feminist Biology, and the biannual Wisconsin Symposium on Feminist Biology.
Feminist biology comprises two strands. One strand involves feminist critiques of traditional biology. Biology is a complex field, including neuroscience, endocrinology, botany, animal biology, and evolutionary biology, as well as biological psychology and biological anthropology.
Feminist criticism has been published in all of these areas. The other strand involves building a new biology that incorporates feminist approaches to theory, research methods, and the topics that are studied.
The Wittig Postdoctoral Fellows Program in Feminist Biology offers the opportunity to combine research in a Fellow’s specific area of interest with teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During the two-year postdoc, the Fellow teaches one undergraduate course per semester for the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies such as GWS 530, Biology and Gender. Research can be conducted in any hosting faculty lab at the University. Past Wittig Postdocs include Dr. Caroline VanSickle, a biology anthropologist, Dr. Ann Fink, a neuroscientist, and Dr. Kelsey Lewis, a biologist specializing in prenatal development of sex variation in mammals.
The biannual Wisconsin Symposium on Feminist Biology, held most recently in October, 2021, features keynote speakers who have been the founders of feminist biology, as well as rising stars in the field. Past speakers include Professors Anne Fausto-Sterling (Brown University), Sari van Anders (formerly University of Michigan, now Queens University), Marlene Zuk (University of Minnesota), Kate Clancy (University of Illinois), Daphna Joel (Tel-Aviv University), Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez (University of California, Davis), Patricia Gowaty (UCLA), and Justin Garcia (Indiana University).
Past programs from the Wisconsin Symposium on Feminist Biology can be found below: