Sharon Traweek

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Sharon Traweek
Sharon Jean Traweek
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of California at Santa Cruz
ThesisUptime, downtime, spacetime, and power: an ethnography of the particle physics community in Japan and the United States (1982)
InfluencesRobert O. Paxton, Vartan Gregorian, Hayden White and Gregory Bateson
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Main interestsGender studies and history
Notable worksBeamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists

Sharon Jean Traweek[1] is associate professor in the Department of Gender Studies and History at University of California, Los Angeles.


Her book Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists, which explores the social structures of particle physicists, has been cited in a number of books relating to the sociology of science.[2][3] In it she is critical of how much time is spent by male physicists talking about the particle detector's which they had to build rather than focusing on the results that the detectors produced.

When experimentalists present papers at seminars and conferences, they always begin with a detailed description of their detector and devote at least a third of their talks to these machines before introducing the data generated in their experiments and reporting how those data were analyzed in order to produce "curves" (interpretations which have an acceptable degree of "fit" with the data). [...] It is the theorist who is more likely to see detectors as scientific instruments which simply record nature, as transcription devices which themselves leave no trace.

— Sharon Traweek, Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists[4]

Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge criticized her comments as being illustrative of the anti-scientific biases in feminism, e.g. Traweek's genital metaphorizing of scientific instruments at SLAC.[5]


  • Amara, Roy; Lipinski, Hubert; Spangler, Kathleen; Sharon Traweek (1978). Communication needs in computer modeling (Report). Menlo Park, California: Institute for the Future. Research Conducted for the Division of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, National Science Foundation. Published in Conference proceedings 1978 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC 1978). Pdf.
  • Beamtimes and Lifetimes
  • Traweek, Sharon; Reid, Roddey (2000). Doing science + culture. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415921121.


  1. ^ Traweek, Sharon (1982). Uptime, downtime, spacetime, and power: an ethnography of the particle physics community in Japan and the United States (Ph.D thesis). OCLC 680612278.
  2. ^ Latour, Bruno; Woolgar, Steve (1986) [1979], "Postscript to second edition (1986)", in Latour, Bruno; Woolgar, Steve (eds.), Laboratory life: the construction of scientific facts, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, pp. 273–286, ISBN 9780691094182. Originally published 1979 in Los Angeles, by Sage Publications
  3. ^ Rosser, Sue V. (2004), "Life in the lab", in Rosser, Sue V. (ed.), The science glass ceiling: academic women scientists and the struggle to succeed, New York, New York: Routledge, pp. 45–46, ISBN 9780415945134.
  4. ^ Traweek, Sharon (1992), "Epilogue: Knowledge and passion", in Traweek, Sharon (ed.). Beamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780674044449.
  5. ^ Quote: "The language used by physicists about and around detectors is genita: the imagery of the names SPEAR, SLAC, and PEP is clear as is the reference to the "beam" as "up" or "down." [...] One must see the magnets at LASS to appreciate the labial associations in the detector's name, Large Aperture Solenoid Spectrometer [...] Ironically, the denial of human agency in the construction of science coexists with the imaging of scientists as male and nature as female [...] Detectors are the site of their coupling: standing on the massive, throbbing body of the eighty-two-inch bubble chamber at SLAC while watching the accelerated particles from the beam collide twice a second with the superheated hydrogen molecules made this quite clear." – Traweek p. 158 (1992)

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