GENDER

Male viewpoints

Mini-survey among a number of professionals who have experienced and studied Gender diversity.

SUBJECTIVITY

“The main problem seems to be that of power sharing. I coordinated a project on women and engineering that included women researchers involved in gender studies who were motivated by militant feminism. Working in a team within which the scientific authority was exercised by a man was a problem for them, an aberration even. The question of the reconciling of a commitment to the cause and the purely scientific approach that seeks objectivity remains a subject for debate.”


André Béraud, former professor at the Insa (FR), member of the ESCHIL (Insa) research team



VANISH BOX

“Our research on Women in Science and Technology began with the insight of a female student, Carol Kemelgor, who was interviewing academic Research Group directors for a study exploring the hypotheses of research groups as ‘quasi-firms.’ Her finding that women were organising their groups more collegially, less hierarchically than their male counterparts, limiting time at the workplace to carve out a private sphere, inspired the Athena Unbound research programme. Carol’s life experience prepared her to recognise that taken-forgranted aspects of research group organisation were cultural artefacts derived from male experience rather than cultural universals essential to the conduct of science. Our follow-up European Union sponsored study on women in technology transfer, incubation and entrepreneurship professions has identified a ‘Vanish Box’ mechanism through which highly-trained women who have ‘disappeared’ from academic bench science have reappeared in technology transfer offices at the interface between science and the economy.”


Henry Etzkowitz, Creativity and Enterprise Director, Newcastle University Business School (UK)


BALANCE

“The contribution of diversity to a working group becomes real when certain conditions are met: it must be founded on equality, find its natural balance at all levels, and be given the opportunity, the means and the time to express itself. I experienced this change at my company with first of all cultural diversity and, since 1994, gender diversity, both of them founded on a strong desire for equal opportunity in careers. More recently, I worked on diversity with groups and at forums dominated largely by women. I learned a lot and my ideas evolved, but I never ceased to find the absence of men – and thus of real debate – regrettable.”


Pierre Bismuth, Senior Advisor – Human Resources, Schlumberger



POWER

“It is not simply a question of numbers but of power. Thus, in mixed research teams where all the leaders are men there are likely to be resistances to examining gender and related issues in a critical way. This is not to do with any fixed biological determinism but rather with different people’s social positions and experiences. I would equally argue that most research teams comprising only the dominant ethnic group rarely address questions of race and ethnicity in a very critical way. The dominant social category or group is often strangely invisible to itself. These issues can be especially important when the research itself is on questions of social power, control of resources or violence.”


Jeff Hearn, professor at the Hanken School of Economics (FI), University of Linköping (SE) and the University of Huddersfield (UK)



CHEMISTRY

“I have had every possible combination of gender mix in my lab. I have to say that I found no real difference in the chemistry.

Occasionally there is somebody whose chemistry is different to that of the others in the laboratory but my experience is that that can be either a male or female. I also have not noted any of the classical caricatures of behaviour, such as women having more forthright opinions. I have had a number of long-term postdocs who became cornerstones in my laboratory and again on reflection it turns out that two of these were male and two were female. I recall greater intensity in the push by males to have a higher ranking on publications than females but the number of occasions where this occurred was relatively small so I am not quite sure if it is a good measure.”


Frank Gannon, Director-General of the Science Foundation,(IE)


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