Charikleia Tzanakou, Christina Efthymiadou, Alison Rodger
University of Warwick
Charikleia Tzanakou, Christina Efthymiadou, Alison Rodger
University of Warwick
The case study “Developing teaching material for studies on gender issues in research projects” will show how to develop material to train scientists to consider gender aspects in their research and will include training about how to gain ethical approval via the Warwick Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Sub-Committee of the University Research Governance and Ethics Committee which ensure university activities take place in accord with legal requirements. The goal is to establish a training programme that can be taken as a module/unit/course by two types of people (i) students on a range of different degree programmes for which it is accepted as an optional module will be recruited from those on eligible courses who wish to take the module for credit and (ii) students and researchers who are interested in the question or need the skills but will not gain formal credit towards any degree programme. All participants will be required to participate in the assessment methodologies but no level of personal commitment will be required. Initially most students will be from category (ii). There are no personal data involved in this case study.
Aims: To develop a module (unit/course) for postgraduate students, researchers and interested undergraduate students who will be trained in understanding the importance of integrating sex/gender analysis into research. As part of this module participants will also be trained in getting multiple disciplinary perspectives (sociology, history, neuroscience, engineering, biomedical sciences) in terms of scientific research and gender.
Methodologies: A full unit was developed after a phase of using seminars, lectures, and workshops with PhD candidates and other early career researchers to test the material. Feedback on the material and presentation methods of the preliminary phase enables understanding of how early career researchers in the local context endorse or resist such insights. Material focuses on multidisciplinary perspectives and the relevance of gender as a variable in research. The concept of Gendered Innovation (employing methods of sex and gender analysis as a resource to create new knowledge and stimulate novel design) is a key part of the programme.
Gendered results: Since this is a pedagogical case study, gendered research results are not expected, apart from potentially feedback on the webpage about how useful this content is.
A literature review was conducted to assess relevant material and develop an outline for the curriculum.
A 2-hour workshop on objectivity and bias including sex/gender in research was organised and delivered to 40 doctoral candidates from the faculty of science. The advertised summary of the workshop was:
Summary: In this workshop, we will discuss how science is seen and framed and the biases that can be implicit in the scientific research process. We will also talk about how rethinking research design and methodologies can lead to innovative outputs. There will be a couple of practical exercises and discussions.
Feedback from Warwick students: The students in general enjoyed the workshop, though there was a lot of resistance to accepting that the institutions and cultures of scientific research are not objective. A key issue for the next phase of the project was to recognise that this was largely due to different definitions of science.
The module is comprised of 9 units (an introduction and eight 30-minute podcasts plus individual work) with additional group tasks and associated individual work relating to participant’s own projects. All sessions are tailored to show the benefits of considering sex/gender in research in their respective fields.
The module is comprised of the following sessions:
Most of the sessions have integrated a few exercises/questions to enable group discussions within a classroom and/ or facilitate reflection to the viewers.
Once the sessions have been uploaded, they could be used together as an online module within degree programmes. However, each one of them could be utilised as part of a lecture or a seminar or ‘a reading list’ within different disciplinary programmes and modules. If local rules require credit points for a module, then the above programme could be supplemented by an individual essay on the significance and impact of the module material for their discipline and own past, current on planned research. At Warwick our sustainability route is to hand the module to the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning to run it for the wider University community.
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MODULE- Warwick- Podcast contributions
Dr Charikleia Tzanakou provides a brief introduction to the PLOTINA project and PLOTINA module.
Dr Elizabeth Ablett provides a sociological perspective on the relationship between science and gender. She challenges the scientific discourse of objectivity and provides examples of gendered assumptions and stereotypes along with biases in the scientific Research Process. She also refers to how science can contribute to reproduction of social inequalities and the exclusion of women within the scientific institutions.
Dr Michael Bycroft shows ways in which science has been shaped by society through historical examples. Newton’s mechanics for example is a mirror of the time and place in which he lived. Perspectives, prejudices and assumptions about gender have affected the practice of science. Dr Bycroft gives us food for thought (and action) since his history of science perspective shows us that while historically the then world of science might seem naive and unjust we should be thinking how our world (include science) might seem to historians in 100 years from now.
Professor Cordelia Fine demonstrates in this podcast the complexity of investigating sex and the brain providing insights from neuroscience and behavioural science. She suggests ways and questions to ask oneself next time you see claims (in scientific papers, media etc) about sex differences in the brain and what they mean about how males and females think, feel and behave.
Dr Erin Hengel presents one of her fascinating papers which explains that the publishing paradox for female authors in economics might not really be a paradox looking on the readability of academic papers and time spent on the peer review process by female authors.
Dr Anne Laure Humbert talks about gender statistics, gender indicators and gender sensitive indicators and how these can be useful tools towards understanding and measuring progress towards gender equality. She also highlights the significance of gender statistics to develop gender sensitive data, analysis and actions.
Dr Antonia Sagona demonstrates how the consideration of sex/gender in biomedical research can foster and nurture scientific innovations through a wealth of examples at different levels: individual, institutional and symbolic.
Anastasia Stavridou provides a sociolinguistic perspective and demonstrates the crucial role that language plays when discussing and researching gender. In this podcast she talks about the theorisation of gender, the distinction between sex and gender and studies that focus on gender speech styles and gender discourses.