Darwin on Race, Gender, and Culture

Stephanie A. Shields, Sunil Bhatia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Darwin's theories of natural selection and sexual selection are significant scientific achievements, although his understanding of race and gender was defined and limited by his own life circumstances and the sociohistorical context within which he worked. This article considers the ways in which race, gender, and culture were represented and explained by Darwin and the ways in which his observations and opinions on gender and race were taken up by others and, more often than not, misapplied. Whereas the challenge of race (for Darwin) was to demonstrate the fundamental similarity and, hence, the common origin, of human races, the challenge of gender (for Darwin) was to identify a mechanism that could account for differences between women and men that, to him, were obvious, fundamental, and significant. The article concludes by considering the implications of Darwin's views for contemporary scientific psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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