How science got women wrong explored by award-winning science journalist

Posted by pt91 at Oct 10, 2017 12:48 PM |
Angela Saini discusses her latest book for University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy on 18 October

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 10 October 2017

Download a photograph of Angela Saini at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jg05h8j880ubbid/AS_Trees01_Small-3469x5398.jpg?dl=0

The long history of gender bias in science research and the work being done to correct it will be explored in a talk by award-winning science journalist Angela Saini for the University of Leicester.

She will be speaking about her new book Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story at a free public lecture on Wednesday 18 October at 5.30pm in Bennett lecture theatre 1. It will be followed by a book signing and drinks reception in the Department of Physics and Astronomy foyer where copies of her book will be for sale.

Broadcaster and author Angela Saini is taking her new book, Inferior, on a tour of UK universities to talk about the themes it explores and what it means for women in science.

In her book, she examines the mistakes and bias that have infiltrated scientific research on women for more than a century and in doing so she uncovers how science has been influenced by misguided historical and cultural perceptions about men and women. By uncovering new international research, Angela Saini begins to transform how we think about women and their place in the human evolutionary story.

Understanding how cultural misconceptions have perpetuated the mind-set that ‘men are better at critical thinking and leading’ and that ‘women are better in nurturing and caring roles’ is necessary. Such assumptions often discourage girls from pursuing STEMM subjects in higher education or female scientists from furthering their scientific careers and reaching leadership roles.

Dr Harjinder Sembhi, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and co-organiser of the event, said: “Angela’s book provides some much needed evidence to debunk the idea that women are intellectually or physically less-equipped to excel in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). The arguments that Angela present should drive us to actively encourage women pursuing careers in science but also think about how we conduct ourselves as scientists.

“Many believe that the scientific method is free of bias, but even the celebrated scientist Charles Darwin believed that women were intellectually inferior, and that they always would be, and perpetuated these beliefs in his published work.”

Higher education has a number of initiatives that aim to address the under-representation of women in STEMM such as the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network) charter and Aurora, the higher education leadership programme for women, as well as the University of Leicester’s role as a HeForShe IMPACT Champion. The Institute of Physics (IOP - East Midlands Branch) who are co-sponsoring this event have their own initiative to improve the gender balance in physics, Project JUNO.

These initiatives often celebrate the achievements and increase the visibility of female scientists, such as the University of Leicester’s Dr Suzie Imber from the Department of Physics and Astronomy who recently won the BBC Two programme Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?.

Rosie Johnson, PhD student and event co-organiser, said: “Suzie is an incredible role model, not only does she use her scientific skills to find unnamed and unclimbed peaks in the Andes but she goes out there and climbs them! It has been really empowering to see Suzie win Astronauts and it’s fantastic to see her now reaching out to the general public, doing outreach and inspiring the next generation of scientists.”

The talk by Angela Saini will take place on Wednesday 18 October at 5.30pm in Bennett Lecture Theatre 1. Angela will be signing copies of Inferior available on the night from a pop-up bookstall provided by The Bookshop Kibworth. Students will be offered a 10% discount especially for the event. This event is being co-sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute of Physics East Midlands Branch.

The event has free registration and tickets can be booked at:

https://www.iopconferences.org/iop/1170/home

https://uol_how_science_got_women_wrong.eventbrite.co.uk

Ends

Notes to editors:

For more information contact Dr Harjinder Sembhi (hs32@le.ac.uk) or Rosie Johnson (rej17@le.ac.uk)

Additional Information:

Angela Saini is an award-winning British science journalist and broadcaster. She presents science programmes on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service, and her writing has appeared all over the world, including in New Scientist, the Guardian, and Science. Her first book, Geek Nation, became a bestseller in India and an Independent book of the year. She is the winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism (2015), the Association of British Science Writers’ award for the best news story (2012) and was named European Science Journalist of the Year by the Euroscience Foundation (2009). Follow her on Twitter @AngelaDSaini or find out more at angelasaini.co.uk.

Harjinder Sembhi is a research scientist in the Earth Observation Science group at the University of Leicester and was recently supported by the University to participate in the Aurora Leadership programme for women, commissioned by the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education (LFHE). Aurora provides training and skills development for future leaders in higher education to help address the under-representation of women in senior leadership roles.

Rosie Johnson is a final year PhD student studying Jupiter’s northern lights. Recently Rosie was supported by the Department of Physics and Astronomy to attend the IUPAP International Conference of Women in Physics. This conferences attracts delegates from all around the world, coming together to form recommendations to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) regarding gender equality.

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