Lucy Avraamidou (University of Groningen, Netherlands):
Title: Intersectional Approaches to Exploring Identity Politics in Physics: (Un)hidden stories.
By adopting an intersectional approach, in this talk, I will present the findings of an empirical study that aimed to examine the ways in which physics identity intersects with other identities (i.e., racial identity, gender identity, Islamic religious identity, social-class, single-motherhood, and ethnic identity) and influences women’s recognition as physicists. To do that I will draw upon a life-history, multiple case-study of three women in physics: a native to Western Europe, late-career white woman; two immigrant women to Western Europe, one is an undergraduate student of colour, and the other, an early-career Muslim woman. With evidence gathered from this empirical study I will argue that a conceptualization of physics identity that does not value people for who they are in their entirety, made up of multiple and intersectional identities, but only values how people produce or consume scientific knowledge is exclusionary and only serves to create suffering. From a theoretical perspective, I will problematize a non-intersectional conceptualization of physics identity that ignores personal histories, subjectivities and diversities by idealizing certain behaviours and practices (e.g., whiteness, masculinity, individualism) and essentially cutting off others (e.g., femininity, blackness, religion, single motherhood). For an exploration of women’s participation in physics, any attempt to examine gender in isolation instead of in intersection with other multiple identities is an ill-equipped way of examining the complexities and dynamics of contemporary identity politics embedded in physics (non)participation.
Biography: Lucy Avraamidou is an Associate Professor of Science Education and the Head of the Institute for Science Education and Communication at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She currently leads a team of 8 doctoral students and 1 postdoctoral researcher and serves as the national coordinator for 6 EU-funded projects (EU-H2020 & Erasmus+). She received her PhD in Science Education from the Pennsylvania State University in the USA and upon its completion she worked as a Research Associate at the Center of Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) at King's College London in the UK. Prior to her appointment at the University of Groningen in 2016, she worked as an Assistant/Associate Professor at the Education Department of the University of Nicosia, in Cyprus. Her research is associated with theoretical and empirical explorations of what it means to widen and diversify science participation in school and out-of-school settings through the lens of intersectionality. At the heart of the account of her work is an exploration of individuals' identity trajectories and negotiations with the use of narrative and life-history methods.
Anna Danielsson (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Title: Unexpected trajectories into a ‘hard’ science: Gender, identity, and culture in physics.
Physics is considered a ‘hard’ science; hard both as in difficult and as in providing hard, objective knowledge claims. It is strongly aligned with cleverness, and also with masculinity. Not surprisingly, physics does an extremely good job at keeping people out. Almost everyone learns that physics is not for them: Patterns of low and inequitable participation are reproduced throughout most of the Global North. Yet, students from under-represented groups do find their way to higher education physics, and this talk will focus on the trajectories of some of them. The talk will also give an introduction to different ways in which the culture of physics can be understood as gendered and how this can affect students’ identity work.
Biography: Anna T. Danielsson is Professor of Science Education at Stockholm University. Her research focuses on issues of gender and identity in the context of teaching and learning science, with a particular interest in higher education physics. She recently published the co-edited book Physics Education and Gender: Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research (together with Allison J. Gonsalves) and her work has also been published in numerous international journals, including International Journal of Science Education and Physical Review Physics Education Research. Prior to her appointment at Stockholm University, she has held positions at Uppsala University, King’s College London, and University of Cambridge.
Aleksandra Derra (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland)
Title: Beyond nature/culture division. Karen Barad’s new feminist materialism
Karen Barad’s ideas and theories can be considered a paradigmatic example of the new feminist materialist approach, which constructs the complicated body of philosophical views. We can initially describe them by the complicated categories like antiessentialism, antirelativism, antirepresentationalism, realism without representation, posthumanist views of performativity, the dynamic relational ontology of phenomena that are constituted in intra-actions, denial of social constructivism (Barad 2003, 2014, 2015). Barad encourages us to use the potential of physics-philosophy of Niels Bohr with the metaphors which describe puzzling phenomena of quantum mechanics (Barad 2007). Enthusiastically sharing her persistence of understanding materiality in its natureculture continuum (Barad 2012), I want to elaborate if we can overcome nature/culture division in philosophy and science. Therefore I will problematize the relation between so-called naturalistically oriented scientific disciplines and socio-culturally oriented disciplines following Barad’s understanding of materiality and her agential realism (Barad 1998). I propose to treat humanities as a unique form of the laboratory of thinking where we can experiment on new modes of grasping and conceptualizing scientific knowledge in a philosophical and feminist way. I will argue that taking into account the changes that feministically conscious scholars have introduced to scientific culture; the feminist approach can be considered pioneering in its depiction of the complementary nature of humanistic knowledge and empirical sciences (Keller 1995, Fausto-Sterling 2000). As Donna Haraway points out, feminist theories can be seen as introducing a kind of missing link between scientific studies and political subjectivity not separated from the cognitive dimension (Haraway 1984).
Biography: Philosopher, philologist, translator. Associate professor in the Institute of Philosophy, Nicolaus Copernicus University (NCU) in Toruń, Poland. She was the research visiting fellow at Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland (2013-2017), and the visiting fellow at the Centre for Humanities Utrecht University, Holland (2011). From 2013 till 2017, cofounder and director of postgraduate gender studies at Faculty of Humanities at NCU, and from 2018 till now, managing editor of “AVANT. Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies“ (avant.edu.pl/en/). Her work focuses on gender, subjectivity, and body problems in contemporary philosophy and cognitive science. She publishes within the field of contemporary feminist philosophy and (feminist) science and technology studies. From November 2020, she has been appointed the Deputy Rector for equality at NCU. Web page: Aleksandra Derra (aleksandra-derra.eu)
Jeff Hearn (Örebro University, Sweden)
Title: What might men and masculinities have to do with physics and physicists?
My academic knowledge of physics is certainly minimal, despite walking past the Helsinki University particle accelerator most days. However, today I have been asked to talk about how debates on men and masculinities might be of interest to physics and physicists. Gender inequalities persist in universities, higher education, science – and physics. Such gender inequalities do not only concern women and girls; they also concern men and boys, as well as LGBTIQ+ people. You might imagine it is quite difficult to talk about what happens in higher education and the academy without discussing men, masculinities and men’s practices, but this appears not to be so. Many documents on gender equality in academia are strangely silent on the question of men, that is, the majority of academics working there, especially at more senior and leadership levels: men are an “absent presence”. This careless avoidance is rife in mainstream academia and “normal science”. Here, I discuss, first, some issues in contemporary critical theorising, research and debate on men and masculinities. Second, I suggest some links of science and physics to analyses of men and masculinities (everyday situations of gendered individuals, academic identities and careers; how academia and science are organised and managed in contemporary academic organisations and cultures; and, gendered knowledge, including gender in the construction of scientific knowledge itself). Third, I highlight possible actions for changing men and masculinities in science at individual, interpersonal, organisational, national and transnational levels of intervention. Men and masculinities should not be taken-for-granted in “(academic) business as usual”.
Biography: Jeff Hearn is originally from London, and studied Geography at Oxford, Urban Planning and Sociology at Oxford Brookes, Organisation Studies at Leeds Universities, before completing his PhD, teaching, and latterly becoming head of department, Bradford University. In 1995 he moved to Manchester University, the first full Research Professor in Social Sciences. He has worked many years in the Nordic region, mainly in Finland, also Professor II, Sociology, Oslo University, and Professor, Gender Studies, Linköping University. Currently, he is: Senior Professor, Gender Studies, Örebro University, Sweden; Professor Emeritus, Management & Organisation, Hanken School of Economics, Finland; Professor of Sociology, University of Huddersfield, UK; Professor Extraordinarius, Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa; Fellow, UK Academy of Social Sciences; honorary doctor, Lund University, Sweden; he was Affiliated Professor, Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund in 2019. His research focuses on gender, sexuality, violence, age, work, organisations, management, policy, ICTs, transnational processes, and social theory. He is co-managing ed. Routledge Advances in Feminist Studies and Intersectionality book series; co-ed. NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies; and was (Co-)Chair, RINGS: International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced Gender Studies 2014-2020. Recent books include: Men of the World: Genders, Globalizations, Transnational Times, Sage, 2015; Men’s Stories for a Change, co-author, Common Ground, 2016; Revenge Pornography, with Matthew Hall, Routledge, 2017; Engaging Youth in Activism, Research and Pedagogical Praxis: Transnational and Intersectional Perspectives on Gender, Sex, and Race, co-ed. with Tamara Shefer, Kopano Ratele, Floretta Boonzaier, Routledge, 2018; Unsustainable Institutions of Men, co-ed. with Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila, Marina Hughson, Routledge, 2019; Does Knowledge Have a Gender? co-ed. with Sofia Strid, Dag Balkmar, Louise Morley, 2020; and Age at Work, with Wendy Parkin, Sage, 2021.
Alexandra Kalev (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
Title: Faculty Diversity Programs: Best Practices and Worst.
Despite the importance of diversity among academic faculty for students' experience and success, and despite laws forbidding discrimination, progress on the faculty diversity has been very slow. Women and minorities still take longer than white men to climb the academic ranks; they are more likely to leave academia; and women’s academic careers are stalled or diverted by family formation while men’s are unaffected or accelerated. The Covid-19 crisis threatens to deepen these trends. There are many studies of the sources of disadvantage, but few of remediation efforts. There are many programs that leaders of universities and colleges adopt to increase diversity, but few know what actually works. In this talk I will present results from the first systematic study comparing alternative policies designed to improve opportunity for women and minorities in STEM fields, based on longitudinal data on 600 U.S. universities and colleges faculty composition and personnel practices, between 1993 and 2015. Main findings point to policy-universalism and enhancing faculty engagement as features of effective diversity programs. In contrast, targeted work-life policies, and programs that blame and threaten faculty surface as features of less effective programs that can backfire. The research is conducted in collaboration with Frank Dobbin, Kwan Kim Woo and Leroy Gonsalves at Harvard University, and Gal Deutsch at Tel Aviv University.
Biography: Alexandra Kalev, a Princeton University PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the Tel-Aviv University. Kalev studies organizations, inequality, and public policy. With Frank Dobbin, Kalev develops an evidence-based approach to diversity management in corporations and universities. Highlights from this research were featured in the July-August 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review and received the HBR McKinsey Award for 2016. Current research, to be featured in the May-June 2020 issue of HBR, looks at effective ways to reduce sexual harassment in corporations and universities. In research on Israel, Kalev studies the emergence and effects of diversity programs in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, the integration of Israeli-Palestinians in the Jewish economy, and the social construction of merit in high-tech organizations. Kalev is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Israeli Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and recently developed a Diversity Index, ranking demographic composition and pay gaps of the 20 largest private economy sectors in Israel. Kalev is also the chief editor of "Israeli Sociology", a Hebrew language academic Journal. Kalev’s research has been published in leading U.S. academic journals, and covered major media outlets.
Ioana Latu (Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK)
Title: Inclusion Really Does Matter: Improving attitudes towards Gender Equality Initiatives among STEM faculty.
We present data from six experiments with STEM academics about effective ways to design gender equality initiatives in STEM academia to increase engagement. Our findings relate to both the framing and the content of such initiatives and allow for evidence-based recommendations to improve engagement, and ultimately effectiveness of gender equality initiatives.
Biography: Dr. Ioana Latu is a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast. She obtained her PhD in Social Psychology at Georgia State University, USA in 2010. Before joining Queen’s in 2016, she was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, USA and a Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.
Ioana’s research focuses on understanding and reducing intergroup biases, with a specific focus on gender biases in organisational and academic contexts. She is particularly interested in analysing the interpersonal mechanism through which women are negatively influenced by existing implicit and explicit gender stereotypes in actual social interactions such as job interviews and negotiations. Her current research, funded by an EPSRC Inclusion Matters grant, seeks to understand and reduce potentially negative attitudes towards gender equality initiatives in STEM fields.
Ioana is a SWAN Champion in the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast, a School which renewed its gold award in 2017. She also teaches Psychology of Gender at the undergraduate level.
Tom Millar (Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK)
Title: The role of external certification in gender equality: The Athena SWAN experience at Queen’s University Belfast
Queen’s University Belfast was one of the UK universities that helped pilot the program that led to the creation of the Athena SWAN certification programme in 2005 and was one the first two UK universities to gain an Institutional Silver Award in 2007. This has recently been renewed for the first time and currently all Schools in the university hold individual awards. The SWAN experience is now embedded in the culture, if not always the practice, of the University. In this talk, I shall discuss how competition and cooperation, both internal and external, have helped shape the gender equality agenda for academic and, more recently, professional support staff and students in the university. Some major successes and ongoing challenges with the Athena SWAN process will be described.
Biography: Tom Millar is Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences from 2006-2015. His research focuses on molecular astrophysics – the use of molecules to study the physical properties and processes of the interstellar medium, with particular emphasis on star birth and star death. He holds BSc and PhD degrees from Manchester University and was Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Staffing) at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology prior to moving to Belfast. At Queen’s he was Director of the SWAN Initiative and Chair of the SWAN Steering Group (2007-2017) with primary responsibility for both Institutional and School engagement with Athena SWAN. He was involved in the recent EU-funded SAGE project and was named as Northern Ireland Diversity Champion (Education Sector) in 2018. He was elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2011.
Sigrid Schmitz (Center for transdisciplinary Gender Studies, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany)
Title: The Gendered Brain – Necessary Literacy for the Debate about Disciplinary Images and Cultures
The debate about a required change in disciplinary images and disciplinary cultures in STEM disciplines to reach out for more gender and intersectional equity, to some extent, has infiltered the targeted fields. The persistence of these images and cultures and their discriminatory impacts, however, cannot be broken up without a deeper understanding of how individual capacities are framed by myths of (neuro-)biological differences. Gendered and further devaluations of cognitive performance by brain basics often are taken for granted to legitimize who could be a successful techno-scientist and who doesn’t. In my talk I present the long-standing record of neuro-feminist analyses on the biases and distortions within neuroscientific knowledge production concerning a seemingly binary gendered brain, inseparably interconnected with racialized assumptions. Furthermore, I unfold the latest research of NeuroGenderings network scholars (https://neurogenderings.wordpress.com/) on the bio-socio development of the brain, its entanglement and contingency within powerful socio-cultural contexts. I show how these multiple perspectives prepare a ground for intersectional -STEM dialogue. The Open Access Portal Gendering STEM digital (Gendering MINT digital, https://www2.hu-berlin.de/genderingmintdigital/) provides Open Educational Resources for facilitating the development of a techno-scientific literacy within STSM fields (including physics) for students, teachers and researchers. Literacy means the competence to understand the social embeddedness of the knowledge production in the own discipline and to reflect on its outcomes on the individual as well as the societal level. With reference to some of its English translated learning units and videos on Gender & Physics, I will draw a line from the brain-gender debate to its impacts on disciplinary images and cultures in Physics, reaching out for strategies for facilitating a cultural change.
Biography: Sigrid Schmitz, PhD in biology, for more than 30 years researches and teaches on Gender in STEM. She chaired the Competence Centre for Gender in Natural and Computer Science [gin] (University of Freiburg, 2000-2009), was Professor for Gender (University of Vienna, 2010-2015), and chaired the project Gendering STEM [MINT] digital (HU Berlin, 2017-2020). Further research topics are on brain sciences, neuro-cultures and feminist epistemologies. Some of her publications concerning the topic of this talk are: Feminist neuroscience: a critical review of contemporary brain research (2014, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8, doi: 10.3389/fnhum, together with Grit Höppner); On the use of innovation arguments for getting gender research into STEM (2018, Gender Studies and the New Academic Governance, ed. Heike Kahlert), and Open Educational Resources for STEM. Stimulate Reflection on Gender in Science and Technology (2020, EASST4S Joined Conference Prague, https://www.gender.hu-berlin.de/de/forschung/GenderingMINTdig/inhalte/genderingmint-digital_en, together with Göde Both).
Mathias W. Nielsen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Title: Making Gender Diversity Work for Scientific Discovery and Innovation
Gender diversity has the potential to drive scientific discovery and innovation. Here, we distinguish three approaches to gender diversity: diversity in research teams, diversity in research methods and diversity in research questions. While gender diversity is commonly understood to refer only to the gender composition of research teams, fully realizing the potential of diversity for science and innovation also requires attention to the methods employed and questions raised in scientific knowledge-making. We provide a framework for understanding the best ways to support the three approaches to gender diversity across four inter-dependent domains — from research teams to the broader disciplines in which they are embedded to research organizations and ultimately to the different societies that shape them through specific gender norms and policies. Our analysis demonstrates that realizing the benefits of diversity for science requires careful management of these four interdependent domains.
Biography: Mathias W. Nielsen is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a sociologist by training and holds a Ph.D. in social science from Aarhus University. His research focuses on gender in science, including how gender diversity is linked to knowledge outcomes. His Ph.D. dissertation, entitled “New and Persistent Gender Equality Challenges in Academia” was defended in 2015, after which he undertook postdoctoral research in Gendered Innovations at Stanford University. Nielsen was recently a part of the European Commission’s “Gendered Innovations 2” Expert Group and has published numerous papers on the topic of gender in science.