MAKE THE DIFFERENCE: LIVING THE EXPERIENCE OF MARGINS IN TECHNOSCIENTIFIC FIELDS
Sapienza University, Italy
This contribution aims to explore the intersection between practices related to gender, learning and science in educational environments. More specifically, we would like to focus on two related research questions: what happens when women enter the fields of science and technology? What processes do inform their personal trajectories, work, and choices?
Starting from the assumption that science and technology, like all domains, are not neutral fields, we present a number of stories of female professionals that show how gender disparities are (re)produced and overcome.
Many important studies have focused on the gender asymmetries in science and technology in terms of numbers, describing those structural mechanisms that keep women “out” of technoscientific fields as well as the statistic trends that register phenomena of differentiation, distribution and diversification (Fornari e Giancola, 2009; De Vita e Giancola, 2017). Other studies have underlined the invisibility or the lack of recognition of women’s contribution in scientific and technological achievements (Rossiter, 1993).
Against this backdrop, this contribution examines the trajectories of female professionals working in STEM fields by combining the theoretical lenses of practice-based studies (Schatzki et al., 2001; Gherardi, 2009) and feminist studies of science and technology (Suchman 2007; Åsberg, Lykke, 2010). This double lens has allowed us to focus on the experiential trajectories of women in a number of STEM sectors (computer science, biotechnology, mathematics), so as to examine not only the experiences of discrimination and marginalization, but especially those dynamics of affirmation and transformation of the same scientific fields that the presence and the work of women trigger. Using narrative methods (Poggio, 2004; Bertaux, 2003), we aim to show how the different experiences that associate human and non-human actors, spaces, times, knowledges, and practices can contribute to producing gender differences in doing science. Our gaze focuses, in particular, on how the experience of the margins (being it in terms of power, knowledge, practices) is felt and reconfigured, by creating new hybrid spaces through sociomaterial assemblages (Orlikowski, 2017), which include human and non-human actors, spaces, times, knowledge and practices, that can pave the way for positioning and trajectories of autonomy.
RETHINKING DIGITAL SPACES THROUGH FEMINISM: INSTAGRAM AS AN EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
Sapienza University of Rome, Italia
In the last ten years, social platforms have become a fruitful space for those that are defined as "new feminisms". Some studies refer to the so-called fourth wave of feminism, which is distinguished by the use of social media as a space for claims of gender-related political instances (Pruchniewska 2019) and which transforms platforms into pedagogical environments in which to challenge forms of daily discrimination (Retallack, Ringrose, Lawrence 2016). A further element that characterizes the spread of digital feminism is the possibility of transforming, through the use of social media, being a feminist into something desirable among the younger generations (Gill 2016). This proposal seeks to analyse Instagram as a sociomaterial space of sharing in order to question the learning processes with/in social networks (Ranieri and Manca 2014). Learning processes are enacted by the interaction with Instagram profiles and Instagram pages that create feminist complaint contents, thus rethinking the way of seeing and experiencing genderized bodies and social relations (Savolainen, Uitermark, Boy 2020). Online spaces shape, constrain and perform the emergence of a feminist sensibility situated in daily practices of activism whereby ‘difference’ becomes a functional category to make visible the social and material experience of marginalised bodies (Braidotti 2019; hooks 2000). This is an ongoing research, that starts with an initial empirical inquiry carried out to analyse some Instagram pages (collective and individual) dealing with feminist issues. After that, we will try to disseminate an online survey to investigate whether Instagram can become an educational and/or informal learning space in which to share and shape new forms of feminist experiences aimed at questioning assumptions, and gender stereotypes and constraints often taken for granted in everyday life.
Braidotti, R. (2019). Materialismo radicale: itinerari etici per cyborg e cattive ragazze. Mimesis editore.
Gill, R. (2016). Post-postfeminism?: new feminist visibilities in postfeminist times. Feminist Media Studies, 16 (4), 610-630.
hooks, b. (2000). Feminist Theory. From Margin to Center. Pluto Press.
Pruchniewska, U. (2019). “A group that’s just women for women”: Feminist affordances of private Facebook groups for professionals. New Media & Society, 21(6), 1362–1379.
Ranieri R., Manca S. (2014). Social network e dimensioni educative. Bricks, Anno 4, Numero 4.
Retallack, H., Ringrose, J., Lawrence, E. (2016). “Fuck Your Body Image”: teen girls’ Twitter and Instagram feminism in and around school, in Coffey, J., Budgeon, S., Cahill, H. (eds) Learning Bodies. Singapore: Springer, 85–103.
Savolainen, L., Uitermark, J., & Boy, J. D. (2020). Filtering feminisms: Emergent feminist visibilities on Instagram. New Media & Society, Online First.
GENDER BIASES IN MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE. FROM EDUCATION TO DAILY MEDICAL PRACTICES
Università degli Studi di Milano, Italia
Since the 60s feminist critique of science’s neutrality (Longino 1990; Haraway 1991; Harding 1996) has contributed to questioned medical knowledge by arguing how the so called “male medicine” (Amoretti e Vassallo 2017) was solely based on male standard physiology and values (Oertelt-Prigione & Regitz-Zagrosek 2012).
The construction of medical knowledge exclusively calibrated on a male body and on a male life experience has produced, in addition to a problem of adequacy of care, a multiplicity of biases in clinical practices and research (Hamberg 2008), i.e., forms of distortion of thought and analysis. In fact, in everyday life activities, physicians are doing gender, not only in the relation with patients and collogues, but also when producing knowledge and using technologies.
Historically, biomedicine refers to a cultural dominant form based on rationalism, distance and objectification which are foundational values of medical education (Verdonk et al. 2009; Miller et al. 2013; Mann & Ariyanayagam 2020). Biases in medical education are expressed through the contents studied, through the under-representation of female physicians in top management positions (Gaiaschi 2019) and through gender segregation in specialties (Pelley & Carnes 2020).
In this proposal we would like to discuss the role of education and professional training in redefining medical knowledge towards a gender-sensitive epistemology. The inclusion of a gender approach in medicine not only enables to build a more democratic and ethical healthcare but it fosters evidence-based and high-quality scientific knowledge, in so far as medical evidence from clinic and research no longer stems from partial population samples (Legato 2015).
Amoretti, M. C., & Vassallo, N. (2017). Introduction: Philosophy of Sex and Gender in Gender Medicine. Topoi-an International Review of Philosophy, 36(3), 473–477.
Gaiaschi, C. (2019). Same job, different rewards: the gender pay gap among physicians in Italy. Gender Work & Organization, 26(11), 1562-1588.
Hamberg, K. (2008). Gender bias in medicine. Women’s Health, 4(3), 237–243.
Haraway, D. (1991) Situated knowledges: the science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In D. Haraway (eds.) Simians, cyborgs, and women: the reinvention of nature. Routledge.
Harding, S. (1996) The science question in feminism. Cornell University Press.
Legato, M. J. (2015). Gender-specific medicine in the genomic era. Clinical Science, 130, 1-7.
Longino, H. (1990) Science as social knowledge: values and objectivity in scientific inquiry. Princeton University Press.
Mann, S., & Ariyanayagam, D. (2020). Gender bias in medical education: Stop treating it as an inevitability. Medical education, 54(9), 863.
Oertelt-Prigione, S., & Regitz-Zagrosek, V. (eds) (2012) Sex and gender aspects in clinical medicine. Springer.
Pelley, E., & Carnes, M. (2020). When a Specialty Becomes "Women's Work": Trends in and Implications of Specialty Gender Segregation in Medicine. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 95(10), 1499–1506.
Verdonk, P., Benschop, Y. W. M., de Haes, H., & Lagro-Janssen, T. L. M. (2009). From gender bias to gender awareness in medical education. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 14(1), 135–152.
GENDER DIFFERENCES IN WORK AND LIFE PATHS AMONG PHDS HOLDERS IN ITALY
Università di Roma "Sapienza, Italy
The present proposal follows in the wake of previous works that have shown changes and stability regarding female educational and working participation in STEM. Our previous analyzes (De Vita & Giancola, 2017, 2021), have shown several solid evidence. First, we could observe how the paths (both study and work) in STEM are formed at a very early age (with important implications for policies aimed at reduction in gender inequalities). We then saw that the gender variable does not act autonomously but acts combined with the social background, creating further differentiation effects "within" the STEM areas. Finally, we have been able to observe that having a high degree in STEM has a relative protective effect for women (in terms of positioning in the labor market) but that a still substantial salary differential persists. In this paper, using the latest ISTAT data produced as part of the survey on the professional insertion of PhD's holders, we will focus on the observation of the previously estimated trends (female participation and differentiation "within" STEM) after graduation at higher level in the education system. The survey (whose data were published in 2019 and refer to the cohorts of PhD's holders who obtained the title in 2012 or 2014, interviewed in 2018) allows precise comparability, a feature that makes the previously listed analyzes possible. Starting from the database, a specific focus will then be directed to the "University-work transition" and "Social and territorial mobility" processes, developing a differential analysis with respect to gender and ascriptive factors. The basic idea is to estimate if and to what extent women are more or less “inclined” or “forced” to mobility paths to reach a high employment goal, with a specific focus on the STEM field. Another aspect of interest is to investigate parenthood, having as a control parameter other data on compatible populations (by age and survey period). The paper therefore aims to investigate continuities and discontinuities but also to investigate specific thematic aspects that allow a more in-depth and detailed analysis of social mechanisms and dynamics with respect to differences and inequalities at the highest level of education and in the following life and work paths.
AIMING FOR GENDER EQUALITY IN MATHEMATICS: BRAZILIAN EXPERIENCES
University of Campinas, Brazil
This presentation brings partial results from a Ph.D. thesis based on the grounded theory method. It analyzes interviews made with Brazilian mathematicians. Although in Brazil there is gender parity in the scientific community in general, in Mathematics, women do not make up to one-third of the participants. This fact has recently caught the attention of the mathematicians’ community itself, and they have started taking action to address gender gap issues. Supported by the International Union of Mathematicians, a seminal meeting took place at the University of Campinas in 2016, and attendees concluded that there were no gender inequalities in the field. However, a series of round-tables and seminars discussing the gender gap in Mathematics took place in different universities all over the country in the following years. The goal was to prepare the community for the World Meeting of Women in Mathematics, which happened in Brazil, in 2018, during the International Congress of Mathematicians. Along, the two major Brazilian societies in the field created a committee to address gender gap issues. Competing and problem-solving stimulate the pursue of a career in Mathematics. Therefore, to arouse female participation, there has been a first attempt to make a women-only Mathematical Olympiad at the national level. From the perspective of women coordinating these initiatives, this study aims to reflect on: what have mathematicians learned about gender? What practices have changed in this community? How do the national and international levels affect each other?
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Schiebinger, L. (2007). Getting More Women into Science: Knowledge Issues. Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, 30(2), 365–378. https://harvardjlg.com/past-volumes/
Schiebinger, L., & Schraudner, M. (2011). Interdisciplinary Approaches to Achieving Gendered Innovations in Science, Medicine, and Engineering. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 36(2), 154–167. https://doi.org/10.1179/030801811X13013181961518
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FEMINIST AND ECOLOGICAL PRACTICES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: TOWARS NEW PERSPECTIVES IN THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF INNOVATION
University of Naplese Federico II, Italy
In recent years European policies in research and technological development have been encouraging gender equity in science and innovation, funding and sustaining projects aimed to promote human well-being and gender equity in the design of new products, processes, infrastructures, services and technologies. This paper explores the concepts of “gendered innovation” (European Commission, 2013) in the development of scientific research and technological innovation promoted by European policies in the last decade, while positioning at the intersection of epistemology of practice (Cook and Brown, 1999) and feminist studies in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) frameworks. The analysis focuses on the documents provided by the European Commission about gender equality in research and innovation and their impacts in driving scientific and technological knowledge building processes in last years.
The study of collective practices in research and technological innovation aims at understanding processes of change in innovation practices, conceived as the product of situated, located and incorporated activities. The key analytical perspectives developed by STS have allowed to examine “gender” as informing technology and technoscientific knowledge and, reciprocally, “technoscience” as informing gendered practices in social institutions (including scientific and research institutions), in a dense intertwining of social aspects and material and technical dimensions. From this point of view, as argued in Judy Wajcman’s technofeminist approach (2004, 2010), technological artefacts are both conditioning and reproducing gender relations. From this perspective the paper describes recent developments in the gendered innovation approach, analysing the interactions between knowing subjects and objects of knowledge (Haraway 1988, Lenz Taguchi 2013) while focusing on socio-material practices (Orlikowski 2007, 2009) as enacted in the negotiation and assemblage of ideas, established theories and practical activities within expert communities, whose work contributes to define the framework within which gender and inclusive technology are interpreted and developed. Finally, potentialities of affective (Gherardi, 2019) and ecosystemic approaches and intraspecies alliances between humans and non-humans (Haraway, 2016) in the development of innovation and research are explored. These perspectives aim at coping with the impact of globalisation and at promoting methods able of going beyond cultural and technological standards whose alignment with presumed economic imperatives and corporate demands is de facto - and notwithstanding so-called disruptive technologies - impeding any real innovation.
Gherardi, Silvia (2019). Theorizing affective ethnography for organization studies. Organization 26(6), 741-760.
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Lenz Taguchi, Hillevi (2013). Images of thinking in feminist materialisms: Ontological divergences and the production of researcher subjectivities. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 26(6), 706-716.
Orlikowski, Wanda J. (2009). The sociomateriality of organizational life: Considering technology in management research. Cambridge Journal of Economics 34(1), 125-141.
Wajcman, J. (2004), Technofeminism, Cambridge, Polity Press.
Wajcman, J. (2010), “Feminist theories of technology”, in Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1) 143-152.
GENDER & SOCIAL BARRIERS TO STEM EDUCATION AND TRAINING AMONG CHILDREN IN SITUATIONS OF EDUCATIONAL POVERTY IN ITALY
1Independent researcher, Italy; 2Università degli Studi di Milano; 3Save the Children Italy
Educational poverty limits Next Gen children’s right to education and deprives them of the opportunity to learn and develop the technical and human skills, as well as the growth mindset needed to succeed in school, work and life in a rapidly changing world. Before the COVID-19, in the EU approximately 18 million children (22.5%) were living at risk of poverty or social exclusionand the situation might have worsened due to it. The child poverty reduction target set by the UN 2030 Agenda will need a strong EU commitment to ensure that at least 9 million children would exit poverty by then. The situation is even worse for girls at risk of marginalization, who lack work and life opportunities. The situation is exacerbated when it comes to STEM subjects which also amount to the areas of greatest expansion in the future. In Italy, girls are underrepresented in STEM study fields and professions; therefore, they are missing opportunities created by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Studies show that girls and boys have similar level of capacities in using digital technology but girls have limited access to educational and professional pathways in technology and science fields, due to gender stereotypes and social environment. In this scenario, we aim to present the Gender and Power Analysis – carried out in the frame of the project “Equip Today to Thrive Tomorrow” developed by Save the Children Italy – which primarily explores the gender barriers preventing particularly marginalized children in situations of educational poverty from accessing and advancing in STEM study and careers. The aim of the qualitative research is to highlight how the intersecting individual, relational, socio-cultural, and structural factors – taken alone and jointly – contribute to the gender gap in STEM. The GAP analysis is based on focus groups with children (5); parents (3) educators (3) for a total of 62 participants; and interviews with fathers (4) and teachers (5). The data were analyzed separately for each target group, focusing on the individual, relational, contextual and structural levels. The analysis process revealed convergences in the different focus groups and interviews, as well as specific issues linked to contexts. Findings explain how gender intersects economic background in vulnerable contexts. They also confirm other quantitative data collected at the European and Italian levels: families’ cultural and economic backgrounds strongly affect their children’s future opportunities and choices, due to the reproduction of traditional gender roles, lack of awareness of study options and workforce development of future societies. Sometimes, trust in public institutions lacks. The research findings were integrated, in an intersectional perspective, in all the activities foreseen by the project, through a Strategy and an Action Plan, namely: training of trainers; training of children and awareness raising activities with parents. Facilitators, educators, project staff and gender experts collaborated throughout all the process of planning, implementation and MEAL in order to integrate a gender and intersectional perspective in terms of content of the activities and inclusive ways to develop them.
In partnership with Accenture Foundation andStC US
GENDERED LEARNING EXPERIENCES IN COLLABORATIVE DESIGN PROJECTS WITH VEHICLE INDUSTRY
Middle East Technical University, Turkey
This paper examines industrial design students’ experiences in two vehicle design projects that are carried out collaboratively with industry in the final year design studio course, to answer the following research questions: 1) To what extent and how does designing products for a traditionally masculine and male-dominated industrial sector result in gendered learning experiences? 2) How do these experiences shape students’ perception of automotive industry where they can choose to work as a designer? The empirical basis of the research comes from the interviews carried out with 20 women and 11 men students. The findings of the study confirm the discussion in the literature: The stronger the relationship of a design field with technology and industrial production, the more distant women see that field and they approach that field hesitantly in their career choices. However, the findings also demonstrate that by providing students with the opportunity of encountering such stereotypically male-dominated and masculine fields during undergraduate education, design educators create a safe environment in which students can “test” their interests, skills and knowledge in light of their real-life project experiences rather than the popular images of these industries. Although having carried out these projects did not seem to significantly affect the tendency of students to enter the automotive industry, it is equally important that women students, who felt incompetent and insecure at the beginning of the project, gained self-confidence and overcame their anxieties regarding vehicle design. This is an important achievement regardless of whether they would seek positions in automotive industry or not.