Gender-in-the-body: Infant-Mother Motor Interactions during Months 3-12 of Infancy​​​​​​​ -- talk by Anne Fausto-Sterling


Thursday, March 29, 2018, 4:00pm


Plimpton Room, Barker Center 133, 12 Quincy St.

Anne Fausto-Sterling


This talk proposes to understand gender development through the lens of embodiment, interweaving decades of empirical work from the field of gender and development with current theories of embodied cognition, feminist theory, and the emerging study of infant connectomics. To concretize this framework, we analyze data from our longitudinal investigation of motor interactions in 15 mother-son and 15 mother-daughter dyads during months 3-12 of infancy.  In the discussion we offer a larger framework that potentially reaches from the level of the developing brain to the emergence of specifically gendered patterns of play behavior and preferences in toddlers. We posit that barely visible differences in dyadic interactions might be precursors to the emergence of embodied gender. 


Harvard's 2017-18 Gender and Sexuality Seminar Series - Sex/Gender: Theory into Practice - engages feminist theorists, science studies scholars, and practicing scientists in conversation about the constructs of “sex” and “gender” in biological and health science research, highlighting the work of researchers who devise innovative ways to analyze gender in intersectional biomedical research.

 A  pre-seminar reading group will meet a week before each speaker. For details and readings, or with other questions, please email

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies, Brown University, is the author of pioneering work on gender and sexuality, the nature/nurture divide, intersexuality, homosexuality and the role of race and gender in science. Fausto-Sterling’s works applying a dynamic systems approach to the study of human development are widely referenced in feminist and scientific inquiry. Fausto-Sterling is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and provides frequent commentary bridging science and current affairs for high profile media outlets.


Future series events:

April 19, 2018 – Sari van Anders (University of Michigan) Gender/Sex, Social Neuroendocrinology, and Feminist/Queer Science