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CIVIS gender studies lectures: The Female turn - How evolutionary science shifted perceptions about females

15 February 2023

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Open to
CIVIS community
15 February 2023

This webinar is part of the CIVIS gender studies lectures, organised by the CIVIS Gender Studies Network (CGSN). It aims to bring together and make visible ongoing gender research carried out in the CIVIS member universities.

The Female Turn – How evolutionary science shifted perceptions about females

15 February 2023, 17:00 CET

This talk traces the history of how evolutionary biology transformed its understanding of females from being coy, reserved and sexually passive, to having active sexual strategies and often mating with multiple males. Why did it take so long to discover female active sexual strategies? What prevented some researchers from engaging in sexually active females, and what prompted others to develop this new knowledge? Based on the scientific literature on sexual selection and in-depth interviews with leading researchers, pioneers and feminist scientists in the field, I analyse how conclusions drawn about sex were formed by the researchers’ scientific interests, theoretical frameworks, specific study animals, technological innovations, methodologies and feminist insights. Thereby, my analysis shows how and why certain researchers gained knowledge about active females, and also how ignorance was and continues to be produced.


Malin Ah-King is an Associate Professor in Gender studies and evolutionary biologist (PhD) at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden. Her research focuses on gender/queer perspectives on biology and feminist science studies of contemporary sexual selection research. Her book The Female Turn – How Evolutionary Science Shifted Perceptions About Females is forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan 2022 and her current project explores a controversy over sex differences in evolutionary biology.


This webinar is open to all the CIVIS community (students, academics and staff).

The webinar will take place digitally on Zoom on 15 February 2023 at 17:00 CET, hosted by Minerva - Laboratory on diversity and Gender Inequality at Sapienza Università Di Roma.

To receive a Zoom link and passcode, please register before the seminar by writing to: