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My experience with tackling ongoing barriers faced by Women in STEM in Canada

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Talk for Women Studies, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. March 17, 2018.
I will update this to reflect the nasty article published by Science Magazine (AAAS) containing an attack on a young woman who is a PhD student and who also does a lot of innovative science outreach and engagement.

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My experience with tackling ongoing barriers faced by Women in STEM in Canada

  1. 1. One Biology professor’s experience with raising the conversation about ongoing barriers faced by women in STEM in Canada Indira Gandhi Centre Conference Hall Women’s Studies, Visva Bharati University, West Bengal 11:00 am March 17, 2018 Dawn Bazely, Faculty of Science, York University, Toronto, Canada with huge thanks to Prof Kate McPherson, History/Women’s & Gender Studies & Equity, YorkU for situating my thoughts in a scholarly framework
  2. 2. Thank you for!! • What brings me here today to 🗣 • Old Conversations from the 1970s-90s • New Conversations from the last 5 years that shed light on ongoing systemic resistance to equity, diversity, and inclusivity in STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) • Some concrete steps for us to Take Action
  3. 3. 1980-84 — field work on Hudson Bay, Canada Toronto
  4. 4. 1980-84 — field work on Hudson Bay, Canada About 2,000 km or > 1,200 miles: similar distance from here to Bengaluru
  5. 5. 2017: Receiving honorific title of University Professor, York University
  6. 6. But, I’m still not satisfied • 1992 report from York University Faculty of Graduate Studies • I joined York University, Toronto in 1990 • I became a member of the committee supporting the Advisor on the Status of Women to the York U president • I thought we were on the right track 🚊
  7. 7. A 2013 Council of Ontario Universities Invited Sustainability Symposium at YorkU was 100% male I emailed & spoke with the Ontario Research Chair organizers, and speakers about the unacceptability of this 2015, 2 of them did it again (above, starred) http://dawnbazely.lab.yorku.ca/2015/09/open-letter-asking-the-canadian-academic-stem-community-to- improve-gender-balance-in-speaker-line-ups/ http://sciencepolicy.ca/simple-policy-will-shift-social-norms-right-direction-canadian-women-stem Proximate cause of what brought me here today
  8. 8. Proximate cause of what brought me here today
  9. 9. 2014-15: #YorkUSci50 anniversary celebrations • the organizing committee selected a keynote alumni speaker who was a white man • I proposed that they add a more diverse speaker line-up who reflect our student demographics • no luck — 🙉🙈🙊 • so, with science profs, Sampa Bhadra and Michael de Robertis, I organized an alternative conference • it featured women alumni & the retired Dean of Science & Engineering (right)
  10. 10. Old Stuff from the 1970s-90s • Women in STEM advocacy isn’t new • in1970s-90s many policies aimed to increase female intake to STEM programmes • science was gendered as being male, and simply needed to switch to being gender neutral Old Stuff
  11. 11. What’s going on? the policies didn’t bring the expected results of more women at all STEM levels (i.e. a reversal of the leaky pipeline) Old Stuff
  12. 12. –Mildred Dresselhaus, physicist, MIT, b.1930 Reflections of a woman pioneer, by Vijaysree Venkataraman, Nov. 11, 2014, Science “Q: Are there hidden barriers to women’s advancement? A: Yes. I was a great believer in the idea of a critical mass of female students. With a minimum of 15% in each class, I thought the lack of isolation would be enough. The guys would get it and everything would change automatically. In the 1980s, we were coasting toward these numbers. At the faculty level, men and women seemed to have equal chance of attaining tenure. In 1984, I became president of the American Physical Society and focused less on these women’s liberation-related issues. I genuinely believed I had done something towards bringing us closer to parity in over 15 years. A decade later, Nancy Hopkins initiated her eye-opening study on the status of women at MIT. The data on pay scales, lab space, and other resources allotted to women showed how wrong I was. I thought numbers alone could stimulate a change in attitudes. Nancy said that we’d have to beat on these guys to change things..” Old Stuff
  13. 13. Why did the 1970s-90s project to increase female intake fail to shift cultural norms? A. Research from the Social Sciences has demonstrated the systemic impacts of implicit or unconscious bias. B. Social media has led to increasing awareness that… … STEM #BoysWithToys can be sexual harassers, just like in every other segment of society … Clancy et al. 2014 New Stuff
  14. 14. Take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test • To help you to overcome your confirmation bias • I did • I discovered that I’m racist & sexist • I unconsciously defer to white males as authority figures • YES, ME 😟😳😱😤🤔 New Stuff
  15. 15. Unconscious Bias is Everywhere • Prof. Ben Schmidt, Northeastern University studies the history of #BigData • Interactive tool that analyzes how students use descriptive words to describe professors’ teaching • By discipline, gender, and whether rating was positive or negative
  16. 16. Gendered Language in Student Evaluations of Teachers Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
  17. 17. Gendered Language in Student Evaluations of Teachers Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
  18. 18. Why did the 1970s-90s project to increase female intake fail to shift cultural norms? A. Research from the Social Sciences has demonstrated the systemic impacts of implicit or unconscious bias. B. Social media has led to increasing awareness that… … STEM #BoysWithToys can be sexual harassers, just like in every other segment of society … Clancy et al. 2014 New Stuff
  19. 19. New Stuff Some other indicators of Women in STEM policy failure in 2013
  20. 20. New Stuff
  21. 21. New Stuff
  22. 22. New Stuff October 2017 #TimesUp #MeToo
  23. 23. There are also calls for more films by women, about women, including women of colour (and men, too). Hidden Figures is about the black women mathematicians who were integral to NASA’s space race. INTERSECTIONALITY is an important concept.
  24. 24. What’s going on? Published: July 16, 2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102172 New Stuff
  25. 25. The infamous results… • internet survey of 666 field scientists (anthropology to agriculture) • codes of conduct & sexual harassment policies weren’t regularly encountered • 72% had observed or been told about inappropriate remarks/ behaviours • 64% had experienced sexual harassment (verbal) • 21.7% had experienced sexual assault • were discussed in the New York Times, and in journal clubs across the world • Clancy et al. crystallized a watershed moment… New Stuff
  26. 26. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose? But… 1. The focus of activism around women in STEM has changed from increasing pipeline intake, to increasing retention. 2. Title IX, old USA legislation, is being used in new ways to address sexual harassment of Women in STEM by senior male faculty (see my SWEEET 2016 talk). UK has Athena SWAN & Australia has SAGE Pilot. 3. Social Media is game-changing in connecting previously isolated Women in STEM activists and their allies. New Stuff
  27. 27. The Social Media Game-Changer • creates the critical mass of women in STEM and allies imagined by Mildred Dresselhaus • overcomes isolation • allows networking and the sharing of stories • leverages & magnifies local, individual action Take action
  28. 28. Networking uncovers allies • Some Twitter women in STEM advocates: • Mel Thomson & Jenny Martin in Australia • Victoria Metcalfe in New Zealand • Hilary Lappin-Scott in Wales, UK Take action
  29. 29. Networking uncovers allies • In 2015, we learned that Dr. Mel Thomson, @DrMel_T, was visiting New York City from Australia • We invited her to take a side trip to Toronto • She spoke about SAGE Pilot Australia, which was modelled on Athena SWAN Take action
  30. 30. Networking uncovers allies • nearer home: Laurier University doctoral student, Eden Hennessey • her sociology research examines barriers faced by Women in STEM through a photographic art lens • #DistractinglyHonest & #DistractinglySexist are travelling exhibits Take action
  31. 31. Bringing regular, annual International Ada Lovelace Day events to Canada • In 2013 I started discussing the idea of Ada Lovelace Day with Science & Engineering Librarian, John Dupuis (right, centre) • In 2015 we held our first event at YorkU in October • Lassonde School of Engineering had just hired an Assistant Dean of Inclusiviety & Diversity, Marisa Sterling • John & got Marisa involved • http://dawnbazely.lab.yorku.ca/2016/07/ six-steps-to-making-your-very-own-ada- lovelace-day-in-fall-2016/ Take action
  32. 32. About Ada Lovelace Day #ALD • An International celebration of Women in STEM • Named for the first computer programmer, Countess Ada Lovelace (1815—1852) • Founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson • YorkU inaugural ALD speaker, Prof. Imogen Coe, Dean of Science, Ryerson University (right) Take action
  33. 33. #ALD2016 #YorkU: Astrophysicist & Canada Research Chair, Professor Bryan Gaensler Bryan’s talk on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JB9BMIE6WI Take action
  34. 34. #ALD2017 #YorkU: Science communicator & social justice activist, Elly Zupko #WomenAreAllOverIt T-shirt Elly’s talk on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W- JWLsaXp2g&t=311s Take action
  35. 35. Wikipedia Edit-a-thons • A popular Ada Lovelace Day activity • Recognizes that women are under-represented in Wikipedia • Edit-a-thons edit and create Wikipedia pages for notable women in STEM • Judy Myers from slide 9: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Judith_H._Myers Take action
  36. 36. Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Visva Bharati, March 20, 2018 • There’s lots of “how-to” advice • It’s easier than it looks • PROOF: I learned to do it • Find a friendly STEM librarian to help you • My Prof. Kathy Martin page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Judith_H._Myers Take action
  37. 37. Educate senior STEM academics & get them to be Active Bystanders • students cannot be expected to bear the burden of change • senior academics must create the space for the conversation & be held accountable for not taking appropriate action • https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/academic-gossip-network-fails-punish- senior-scientists Take action
  38. 38. Prof. Michael Kimmel TED talk
  39. 39. This includes nominating women for prestigious awards In 2016, my colleague, Prof. Imogen Coe, Dean of Science at Ryerson University, Toronto, was named as one of: Take action
  40. 40. Imogen brought Soapbox Science to Canada in 2017 Since giving the Inaugural Ada Lovelace Day lecture in 2015, Imogen speaks weekly, nationally & internationally on Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity and Women in STEM
  41. 41. In 2017, Dean Imogen Coe co- hosted a roundtable: EDI in STEM, forging paths to enhanced innovation Ass’t Dean Marisa Sterling, P. Eng. organizes the annual Dec. 4th remembrance of the 1989 Montreal Massacre
  42. 42. Post-Truth Fake News Proximate cause of what got me here today
  43. 43. I was also an organizer of Toronto’s March for Science 2017
  44. 44. Toronto’s March for Science 2017
  45. 45. As actions supporting women in STEM & equity, diversity & inclusion for under-represented minorities snowball, I support emerging leaders, like Prof. Sapna Sharma, below. Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Federal Science Minister is listening: New Canada Research Chairs must take account of Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity research
  46. 46. TAKE HOMES 1. The focus of activism by women in STEM has changed from increasing intake to the pipeline, to increasing retention (Clancy et al. address this). 2. Title IX, old USA legislation (under threat), is being used in new ways to address sexual harassment of Women in STEM by senior male faculty. UK has Athena SWAN & Australia has SAGE Pilot. 3. Social Media is connecting previously isolated Women in STEM and their allies & supporting and extending involvement to push for policy changes.
  47. 47. Thank you to Kate McPherson

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