Veronica Sanz

veronica [dot] sanz [at] berkeley [dot] edu
Visiting Scholar
Center for Science, Technology and Medicine (CSTMS), UC Berkeley
Appointment Dates:
(Aug 1, 2013 – Nov 30, 2013)
Research Project:
Beyond the Male and Female Binary: Research on Sex Variability
Feminists have criticized for decades the assumed gender differences between men and women and the biological justifications for them. However, Feminist approaches within Science and Technology Studies (STS) in the last 15 years have deepened the criticism to the “biological part” of the sex/gender distinction, that is, to the idea that there are only two biological sexes, male and female. Feminist STS has been key in showing how cultural assumptions shape scientific research on “differences”, and also in offering new epistemological frameworks that can open the space to new forms of doing science.  Most of the current sex research -including the study of the so-called “intersex conditions” or “disorders of sex development (DSD)”- is done under the paradigm of the binary model (male and female as two distinct categories). However, recent research in molecular biology, genetics, endocrinology and neuroscience shows that the process of sex development and sex differentiation is not as clear and as dichotomous as originally thought. Focusing on studies about the intersex conditions, some authors have proposed alternatives to the “two sexes model” in favor of non-binary models such as “the five sexes” (Fausto-Sterling) or the “sexual continuum”. This project is rooted in this feminist tradition of questioning dichotomies and offers a new framework for sex research. The goal of this project is to analyze different biological and medical literature about sex variability (including genetic/chromosomal classification, hormonal distribution, anatomical sexual characteristics and neurological differences in the brain) with the aim of rethinking  binary sex categories. In order to represent this phenomenon I use the theory of Fuzzy Logic, a mathematical tool that allows managing non-discrete categories (fuzzy categories), to understand sex as a multi-dimensional space with blurred borders that do not necessarily follow a lineal order.
Veronica Sanz received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University Complutense of Madrid (Spain) in February 2011 with a dissertation titled "Contextual Values in Science and Technology: the case of Computer Technologies". She received her Masters Degree in Philosophy of Science at the same university in 2002. Her main interests are Philosophy of Technology, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Gender Studies of Technology, particularly focusing on Computing Technologies and new paradigms in Artificial Intelligence. During her graduate student period she was an Assistant Researcher at the Department of Science, Technology and Society within the National Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), the main research institution in Spain. During that time she was the coordinator of the permanent Seminar of Junior Researches(SIJI) and the Seminar of Science, Technology and Gender (STG) and has been very active in organizing STS and STG conferences and other scientific events both in Spain and internationally. Along these years she has participated in five research projects such as "Practis: Philosophy of Social and Human Techno-sciences", "Social Perception of Technologies of the Body" and "The Situation of Women in the Education System of Science and Technology in Spain and its International Context". During 2003-2004 she received a scholarship from University of California to study at the Office for the History of Science and Technology (OHST) at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2008 she was a Fellow Researcher at theInstitute of Advances Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS)in Graz (Austria). And from December 2008 to October 2010 was Visiting Graduate Student at the European Centre for Soft Computing in Mieres (Asturias) where she helped launch a new field of research called "Soft Computing in Humanities and Social Sciences". At the end of this year it will appear a book she has co-edited with that same title. Veronica Sanz is currently a visiting scholar in the Center for Science, Technology and Medicine at UC Berkeley, and is jointly affiliated with BBRG.