Evelyn Fox Keller, Who Turned a Feminist Lens on Science, Dies at 87

Trained as a physicist and biologist, she argued that science had become gendered, with a narrow masculine framework that distorted inquiry.

Evelyn Fox Keller, a theoretical physicist, a mathematical biologist and, beginning in the late 1970s, a feminist theorist who explored the way gender pervades and distorts scientific inquiry, died on Sept. 22 at an assisted living home in Cambridge, Mass. She was 87.

Her children, Jeffrey and Sarah Keller, confirmed the death. They did not specify a cause.

Dr. Keller trained as a physicist and focused much of her early work on applying mathematical concepts to biology. But as the feminist movement took hold, she began to think critically about how ideas of masculinity and femininity had affected her profession.

Like many women in the sciences, she had faced years of disparagement and discrimination, and one of her first efforts was to quantify the effect such a hostile environment had on women — how it held them back, and how it drove many to leave science completely.

Her inquiry soon went deeper, in books like “Reflections on Gender and Science” (1985). “Let me make clear from the outset,” she wrote in that book, “that the issue that requires discussion is not, or at least not simply, the relative absence of women in science.”

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