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Sexism in Science to be examined in Public Lecture

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 5:42pm

Nicola-Gaston-small-image
Associate Professor Nicola Gaston of the University of Auckland.

Persistent gender inequalities in science, and academia in general, must be taken seriously, says Auckland physicist and author Nicola Gaston who will give the 2017 Patricia Coleman Lecture at the University of Otago tomorrow evening.

Nicola Gaston is an Associate Professor in Physics at the University of Auckland, the Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and was President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists in 2014 and 2015. She recently wrote a book Why Science is Sexist in which she examines questions such as: Why are there more men than women at senior levels of scientific disciplines, and why are some of those disciplines so much worse than others?

Associate Professor Gaston insists gender inequality is real and important.

“There is plenty of scholarship out there that we should be looking to, as scientists, in order to understand the problem of gender inequality, and how to fix it,” she says. “There is a lot of harm that can be done by people opining about the issue, based on their personal experience, and dismissing the experiences of others – we should be able to do better.”

Importantly, she says gender equity is not just an issue for women.

"There is a lot of harm that can be done by people opining about the issue, based on their personal experience, and dismissing the experiences of others – we should be able to do better."

“There’s a lot of work that gets given to women in science on the basis of a perceived need for ‘role models’ and ‘mentoring’; men need to step up and do their part. Step one, in my opinion, is doing the minimum amount of reading in the literature to understand what the problem actually is: why science is sexist.”

As well as her Public Patricia Coleman Lecture Science and Equity, which will be held at the St David Lecture Theatre at 5pm, Associate Professor Gaston will also speak to the TEU Women in Science Network in Burns 7 at 12noon on Why Science is Sexist. This talk, which be livestreamed for staff in Wellington and Christchurch, has been organised by the TEU but organisers say non-members are welcome.

Associate Professor Gaston is looking forward to speaking at Otago.

“I’m always delighted to meet new people with relevant experiences and other perspectives than mine. Most of what I’ve learned about gender equity, on the whole, has been from these kinds of conversations.”

Come along:

TEU Women in Science Network Talk – Why Science is Sexist
Thu 23 Feb, 12noon to 1.30pm
Burns 7 (and livestreamed for Christchurch and Wellington staff)
Organised for members of the TEU, but non-members welcome
Contact Kris Smith to register interest, Email: kris.smith@teu.ac.nz

Patricia Coleman Lecture – Science and Equity
Thu 23 Feb, 5pm
St David Lecture Theatre
All welcome