WISE@QMUL video discussion: “A Chemical Imbalance”

WISE@QMUL members and newcomers gathered for a lunchtime discussion following a viewing of A Chemical Imbalance, a documentary made by the University of Edinburgh to “highlight some of the persistent challenges still faced by women, and to contribute to the wider debate about how we can progress towards equality.”

We were glad to meet so many new faces at our first event of the academic year. Everybody remarked how much they enjoyed the video (and the complimentary lunch, of course!)

Many men as well as ladies attended.

Many men as well as ladies attended.

If you’d like to watch the video again, please visit http://chemicalimbalance.co.uk/project/watch-the-film/.

Joanne moderated the discussion session after the viewing, during which the following comments were made:

  • Women may be more reluctant to “show off” their own achievements, possibly due to implicit social standards on which confidence in men is admired but confidence in women is seen as pushy and aggressive.
  • Gender quotas for promotions are not likely to be a fair or even useful way of dealing with gender imbalances in the senior academic circles. A more important priority is to ensure that the decision-makers are not subconsciously biased towards any one gender.
  • As shown in the (in)famous Yale study, women are just as likely to exhibit negative bias towards women, so there is a need for all of us to evaluate our own habits.
  • In fact, female supervisors may be more likely to be undervalued, even by female subordinates. (Note that there is no data to support this hypothesis!)
  • Although there is a significant tailing off of female participation after postdoctoral fellowships, it should be remembered that male researchers also face the same bottleneck for permanent academic positions.
Joanne moderated the discussion after the video.

Joanne moderated the discussion after the video.

It was a fruitful start to the year and we hope to see as many men and women attending our next panel discussion on 20th November to explore how four female academics at QMUL forged their own career paths.

A final note, if you are interested in suggesting or helping to run future events, please email us to join our organising committee. We really need as much help as possible!

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