A headshot of Professor Rebecca Jordan-Young

Rebecca Jordan-Young

Ann Whitney Olin Professor


Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies



I am an interdisciplinary feminist scientist and science studies scholar whose work explores the reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, and race. My recent book, Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, coauthored with Katrina Karkazis (Harvard 2019) upends a lot of entrenched thinking that props up hormone folklore as if it is established fact. So familiar that it can go by a single initial, T is at once a mercurial cultural figure and a specific molecule. We take aim at received wisdom about T in six domains: female reproduction, aggression, risk-taking, power, sports, and parenting. Along the way, we show how “science-y” stories about T are used to recycle stereotypes—not just about gender differences, but also class and racial distinctions. There are also quite a few good stores about how preconceived ideas about this so-called “sex hormone” can sometimes make it hard for scientists to see evidence that’s right under their noses. Testosterone won the Gold Medal in Science from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Brocher Foundation, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship.

My first book, Brain Storm: The flaws in the science of sex differences (Harvard 2010), was the first systematic analysis of the idea that early hormone exposures “hardwire” sex differences into the human brain. Tracing definitions and measures across hundreds of studies, I found that the research overall doesn’t support the idea that human brains are “organized” for gender and sexuality by early hormone exposures. Brain Storm was awarded a Distinguished Book Award from the Association for Women in Psychology (2011) and has been translated into French (Belin Press, 2016). My essay “Homunculus in the Hormones” summarizes the argument and main findings. You can download it here.

I’m on the Board of the international Neurogenderings Network, and enjoy collaborating with colleagues in fields that range from cognitive and developmental neuroscience, developmental biology, and physical chemistry to cultural anthropology, political science, history, and sociology. I’ve published in a wide range of scholarly journals, such as Feminist Formations, Nature, Science, Neuroethics, BMJ, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, and the American Journal of Public Health, as well as popular outlets like the New York Times, The Guardian, and Discover Magazine.

Feminist/Intersectional Science and Technology Studies

Science and Social Differences

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Health Research and Practice

Introduction to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Introduction to Women and Health

Feminism and Science Studies


Science and Sexualities

Senior Seminar in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2016-17)

American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2016-17)

Tow Professorship for Distinguished Scholars and Practitioners, Barnard College (2013-15)

Visiting Professor Award, Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Radboud University (2013-14)

Health Disparities Scholar, National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities (NCMHD) (2003-04)

Disability Access Recognition Award, Barnard College (2003)

Marisa de Castro Benton Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in the Sociomedical Sciences; Ph.D. dissertation with Distinction (2000)

John and Kathleen Gorman Public Health Humanitarian Award, Columbia University School of Public Health (1993)

Society for Social Studies of Science

The Endocrine Society

National Women's Studies Association


Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, coauthored with Katrina Karkazis. Forthcoming from Harvard University Press (tentatively Spring 2020).

Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010 (in paperback 2011).

·       Winner, Distinguished Publication Award, Association for Women in Psychology (2011).

·       French translation (Belin),  2016.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

Karkazis, K. and Jordan-Young, R.M. The Powers of Testosterone: Obscuring Race and Regional Bias in the Regulation of Women Athletes. Feminist Formations 30(2):1-39 (Summer 2018).

Rippon, G. Jordan-Young, R., Kaiser, A., Joel, D. and Fine, C. Journal of Neuroscience Research Policy on Addressing Sex as a Biological Variable: Comments, clarifications and elaborations. Journal of Neuroscience Research 95(7):1357-1359.

Karkazis, K., and Jordan-Young, R.M. Debating a “Sex Gap” in Testosterone. Science 348:6237. May 22, 2015, 2-4.

Rippon, G. Jordan-Young, R., Kaiser, A., and Fine, C. Recommendations for sex/gender neuroimaging research: Key principles and implications for research design, analysis and interpretation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:650. August 2014. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00650.

Jordan-Young, R., Sonksen, P. and Karkazis, K. Sex, Health, and Athletes. BMJ 28 April 2014; 348:g2926 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g2926.

Fine, C., Jordan-Young, R., Kaiser, A., and Rippon, G. Plasticity, plasticity, plasticity ... and the rigid problem of sex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, November 2013 17(11): 550-551. 

Karkazis, K., Jordan-Young, R.M., Davis, G., and S. Camporesi. “Out of Bounds? A Critique of Policies on Hyperandrogenism in Elite Female Athletes.” The American Journal of Bioethics 12(7): 3-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2012.680533. Published online June 14, 2012.

Jordan-Young, R. and R. Rumiati. Hardwired for Sexism? Approaches to Sex/Gender in Neuroscience. Neuroethics, 5:3 December 2012, pp 305-315.

Jordan-Young, R. Hormones, Context, and “Brain Gender”: A Review of Evidence from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Social Science & Medicine 74:11, June 2012, Pages 1738-1744.

Springer, K., Stellman, J. and Jordan-Young, R. Beyond a Catalogue of Differences: A Theoretical Frame and Good Practice Guidelines for Researching Sex/Gender in Human Health. Social Science & Medicine, Volume 74:11, June 2012, Pages 1817-1824.

Cheslack-Postava, K. and Jordan-Young, R.  Autism Spectrum Disorders: Towards a Gendered Embodiment Model. Social Science & Medicine, 74:11, June 2012, Pages 1667-1674.

Jordan-Young, R. (guest editor and contributor). Critical Conceptions: Technologies, Justice, and the Global Reproduction Market. The Scholar & Feminist Online 9.1-9.2: Fall 2010/ Spring 2011.

Nehm, R.H. and Young, R.M. “Sex Hormones” in Secondary School Biology Textbooks. Science & Education. Online First DOI 10.1007/s11191-008-9137-7, March 2008.

Young, R. and Meyer, I. The Trouble with "WSW" and "MSM”: Erasure of the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Person in Public Health Discourse. American Journal of Public Health 95:1144-1149, 2005.

Young, R. and Balaban, E. Psychoneuroindoctrinology. Review of The Female Brain, by Louanne Brizendine. Nature. 443(12): 634, 2006.

Young, R., Friedman, S. and Case, P. Exploring an HIV Paradox: An Ethnography of Sexual Minority Women Injectors. Journal of Lesbian Studies. 9(3): 103-133, 2005.

Young, R., Weissman, G., and Cohen, J. Assessing Risk in the Absence of Information: HIV Risk Among Women Injection Drug Users Who Have Sex with Women. AIDS and Public Policy Journal, 7(3):175 183, Fall 1992.

2013 - National Science Foundation, Science, Technology, and Society Division, "Collaborative Research - Discordant Models of Testosterone Function" (R. Jordan-Young, PI); collaboration with Helen Longino (Co-PI) and Katrina Karkazis, Stanford University; NSF Award # SES-1331123

2012 - Presidential Research Award, Barnard College, "Out of Bounds? Ethical and Scientific Issues in “Gender Verification” of Elite Female Athletes"

2010 - Foundation for Worker, Veteran, and Environmental Health, "Gender, Sex, and Human Health"

2001 – 2004: Principal Investigator, "Measuring Sexual Minority Status Among Women Drug Users"
National Institutes of Health (NIDA)
Grant # R03 DA14399-01

2001 - 2002: Principal Investigator, "Pilot Studies of Analytic Dialogues with Women Drug Users"
Center for Drug Use and HIV Research, NDRI, Inc.
Grant #P30 DA11041

1997: Co Investigator, "HIV Risk Among Women Injectors Who Have Sex with Women" NDRI, Inc.
National Institutes of Health (NIDA)
Grant #1 R01 DA10870 01

1997 - 1998: Dissertation Fellow, Sexuality Research Fellowship Program, Social Science Research Council