GradImpact: Complicating a Binary Definition of Sex through Skeletal Studies

    Alexandra Kralick, a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, studies the growth and development of sex differences in great apes and humans. Kralick recently spent time examining orangutan bones in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s mammal collection to understand how orangutan growth and development differ from humans.


    Kralick wrote an article published in The Atlantic last November, which has been featured in other online publications, including Pacific Standard and Slate. In her article, Is Gender Written Into Your Skeleton? Kralick argues that based on her research, our bodies are too complicated to fit a legal, binary definition of sex. “Skeletal studies, the field that I work in as a doctoral student in anthropology, and the history of this field show how assumptions about sex can lead to profound mistakes, and how acknowledging that things are not really as binary as they may seem can help resolve those errors.” She summarizes the recent history of the binary and outlines instances that have proven it does not exist.


    Kralick is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She received her bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from George Washington University, where she investigated the dental development in Virunga mountain gorillas in Rwanda. To learn more about Alexandra’s work visit the University of Pennsylvania website.


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    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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