Gender studies and intersectionality

Joanne Cole, Brunel University London, UK

Shohini Ghose, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

Eden Hennessey, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

Prajval Shastri, Indian Institute of Astronomy, India

Physics remains dominated by those who may enjoy privileges based on gender, class, race and other social factors. Data from the National Science Foundation shows that in the United States over the last 40 years about 22,000 physics PhDs were awarded to white men, whereas only 66 were awarded to black women. This 1:333 ratio reflects that not all paths to STEM are created equal. Instead, aspects of a person’s identity may cross or intersect, ultimately creating challenges or obstacles not encountered by the majority. Intersectionality is often described as a crossroads – a point at which gender, race, class, age, culture, religion, and other categories meet and create unique circumstances for each individual. If such circumstances are not acknowledged, it is unlikely that we will attract and retain diverse and highly-qualified physicists. It is therefore crucial for physics to recognize how intersectionality impacts education and career trajectories. In this workshop, participants will learn about the research on gender studies and intersectionality in the context of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with a focus on physics specifically, given gender and racial disparities are most pronounced in this discipline. Using presentations, research data, group dialogue, and interactive activities, workshop attendees will be active participants who contribute to discussions centered on how to view physics and physicists through an intersectional lens.

The first two sessions will each start with a presentation to set the scene for the discussion involving workshop participants that will follow.  The third session will be used to bring together the key points of the discussion from the previous two sessions and agree a series of recommendations for presentation at the final General Assembly of ICWIP2017.  As each session builds upon the previous one(s), we recommend that participants attend all three sessions associated with this workshop.

Keywords: Gender, Intersectionality, Physics, Diversity, STEM.



Monday 17th July, 11:15-12:45

Overview of gender studies & intersectionality

Eden Hennessey, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada

What is intersectionality and why does it matter? In the context of physics, very little attention has been paid to how different aspects of identity intersect to create unique experiences. Compared to the stereotypical white, male physicist, the road to a career in physics differs for women, racial and sexual minorities, and people with disabilities. In this workshop, attendees will learn about intersectionality and apply concepts from empirical research to an activity that highlights where and how their own identities intersect.

Tuesday 18th July, 10:45-12:15

Intersectionality – good practice

Jo Cole, Brunel University London, UK

Although there is a significant body of literature available relating to gender studies in Physics, only a relatively small fraction of it addresses intersectionality. Despite this, progress is beginning to be made in developing initiatives to both perform the multidimensional analysis of gender data and to develop initiatives to address the resulting findings. This presentation will summarize some existing examples of good practice in this area.

Wednesday 19th July, 10:30-12:00

This session will be used to consolidate the discussions from the previous workshops and to agree a series of recommendations for the final conference report.

Key dates

  • Abstract submission deadline:
    31 May 2017
  • Early registration deadline:
    31 May 2017
  • Proceedings deadline:
    30 June 2017
  • Registration deadline:
    7 July 2017
  • Paper reviews deadline:
    14 August 2017