The F Word
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Scientific research and development have helped arm the case for gender equality – and in some cases, advances in science have helped escape gender-based pigeonholes and restrictions. (Think: the development of The Pill and its role in women’s liberation.) But science can also work to entrench prejudice, with studies interpreted to back up long-held assumptions of inherent differences (and differing abilities) according to gender. And science is still largely dominated by men, despite recent efforts to encourage women into the field.
What are the experiences of women working in science? Is there a new generation of scientists interested in equality? And what are the concerns and focuses for feminists in science?
Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of six books, including the ABIA and Indie award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil (2014), and the critically acclaimed memoir The Hate Race (2016), which is currently being adapted for the Australian stage. Her poetry collection Carrying The World won the 2017 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry.
Kate White is an internationally recognised researcher on gender and higher education. She is Adjunct Associate Professor at Federation University Australia and Co-director of the nine-country research consortium, the Women in Higher Education Management Network.
Professor Sharon Lewin is an infectious diseases physician and basic scientist.
She is the inaugural director of the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne; consultant physician, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; and an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellow.
Her laboratory focuses on strategies to cure HIV infection and the pathogenesis of HIV-hepatitis B co-infection.
Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical cosmologist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales.
The official fight for equal representation for women is over a century old. You might think the battle would be won by now, but in 2015, the ‘f’ word is as personally and politically charged as ever. And despite great leaps forward – equal pay (on paper), paid maternity leave, our first female prime minister – we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
The F Word asks where feminism is at, in culture and society, with a series of events that question our assumptions (Can romance be empowering? How can you be a religious feminist?), and highlight areas for change and inclusion, like disability and science.
We begin the series with ‘Bad Feminist’ Roxane Gay, who argues that feminist values can co-exist with contradictions: nursing a childhood affection for Sweet Valley High and wearing heels that hurt your feet doesn’t weaken your dedication to ending domestic violence.