Chair of ITARSA and member of MCAA GEDI WG and Italy Chapter
The ITARSA (Italian Research Staff Association), www.italianrsa.org member of ICoRSA (International Consortium Research Staff Associations) www.icorsa.org and the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) www.mariecuriealumni.eu with its Working Group GEDI (Gender Equity DIversity and Inlucion) and its Italy Chapter, have organised the Workshop above with the aim of understanding better some bottlenecks on Gender Gap of Researchers’ Careers of Women in STEAM, as follows:
- Understanding the stereotypes and the obstacles in general to be removed to make more attractive and easier the careers of the women in the scientific research and innovation;
- Exploiting the type of contribution given by the women in the field of innovation and technological and scientific research;
- Underlining the novelty that the women viewpoint introduces in teh science and in the innovation processes;
- Highlighting the Role Models of women in STEAM from the past and the present.
The Workshop has been dedicated in the final version to the memory of Prof. Luigi Borzacchini, husband of Gianna Avellis, and Dr. Patricia Charlton, both passed away last months for the same cancer disease.
Prof. Luigi Borzacchini was a professor and teacher in Mathematical Logics, Graph Theory, Combinatorics at Departments of Computer Science, and History of Mathematics in Philosophy Department. His interests in research span from logics, history of mathematics, AI, graph theory, physics and computer science, mainly investigating the origin of the formal languages at the basis of current computers. Luigi Borzacchini with his large cultural background and scientific accuracy that he applied to his research activity, was an excellent historian and a fine thinker. In a period where “humanistic culture” and “science” were very separated, Luigi believed in the central role of the relationship among “science”, “philosophy and science” and “history” and the necessity to link the historical and philosophical aspects to the teaching and science dissemination and communication. His “professional philosopher” being and his autonomy in the scientific research have signed his books that reflect the tradition of greatest mathematicians, from the antiquity to our time, being always keen to the scientific and philosophical values of the tradition, of which he was a faithful keeper. He did not hide to declare to be a religious believer, mentioning openly and frankly in his book “La Scienza di Francesco”. Numerous are the essays which he published in national and international journals, several are the books edited by DEDALO (The Computer of Plato, 2016, The Computer of Ockham, 2010, The Computer of Kant, 2015, The science of Francis, 2016, The solitude of Leonard, 2019, The meaning of algebra, 2021) He was a role model for many of his students in 50 years of teaching at University of Bari, dedicated leader in teaching and researching for the philosophy of formal thinking. Great value has for the academic scholars his historical appendix to the Enciclopedia Garzanti della Matematica, on the History of Mathematics edited in 2013.
Prof. Annamaria Candela (Head of Dept. of Mathematics, University of Bari) writes “Professor Luigi Borzacchini, Gigi for his friends, was one of the most valuable thinkers of our department. His main feature was the deep knowledge of different fields of Science: Logic, Graph Theory, History of Mathematics and Philosophy, Computer Science and even Physics and Religion. His scientific curiosity made him one of the main points of reference for colleagues, students, and society. We will really miss him and will treasure his legacy”.”.
His friend Gianni Ingravallo, says “Emeritus historian of the scientific thought, his work will remains on the future decades a pillar in the reconstruction of the Christian roots of the European science. ”
Dr. Patricia ‘Trish’ Charlton was a researcher, teacher, and innovator in computer science, AI and Analytics, tangible computing, Internet of Things, Human Centred Design and Interaction Design.
She was a leader in outreach in Education, convening broad, diverse, and international coalitions of partners around key themes in the innovative areas of teaching and learning (Maker communities, hackathons, Internet of Things), women in STEM, and technology to empower humanitarian development and global health work.
Trish was a dedicated academic scholar, whose philosophy was very much driven by her desire to help and support students in their studies. This included her PhD students in the School of Computing & Communication at the Open University, as well as those who were involved in the many outreach and engagement activities she organised with schools. She was also a mentor to many colleagues in the school and beyond, helping them develop their research ideas and actively collaborating in bringing these to fruition in the form of papers and successful research projects.
Robin Laney (Head of School, C&C) writes “We will really miss Trish, she was a great academic who had a fantastic ability to bring people together to deliver results for our students and society. It was such a joy to work with her and we will remember her fondly”.
In 2014 Trish co-founded Creative Digital Solutions (CDS) – a consultancy company advising on design and evaluation of effective, inclusive, and sustainable online and blended learning for all. She worked with clients and partners such as Tate Britain and BBC Learning and its renowned microbit initiative.
Her friend and a co-founder of CDS, Joanna Wild, says “Trish was a great scholar with passion to change the world to become a better place for everyone. She had this incredible ability of bringing the best in everyone she worked with. She left them uplifted, empowered and confident that they will succeed”
Gianna Avellis started in 2010 to work with Patricia Charlton in gender studies. Her research was mentioned in her first presentation to the workshop in the keynote speech, addressing how to make STEM more gender inclusive, namely working on two projects mGENDER and iCHAT-gender. “My work in research with Patricia Charlton was in collaboration with Yujin YU Prof. at Open University UK in Software Engineering and AI: we were studying the application of intelligent chatbots (ALEXA like) to design software and to this end we published a research paper at ICMSE International Conference in Mobile Software Engineering in 2016 and presented the paper in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then we moved to investigate in two projects entitledmGENDER ( mobile and wearable technologies for GENDER diversity and inclusion) and iCHAT-GENDER (An Intelligent Chatboat for Gender Inclusive Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Finally, we worked together with Dr. Sam Scott to a position paper entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Systematic Review of the Literature on the Impact of Culture on Women’s Careers in STEM and Wall of Silence Surrounding Equality in STEM”.”
Our aim is to make STEM education gender more inclusive for the younger women, especially NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) women, to achieve their career aspirations through the application of mobile technologies, in particular chatbots.
The first speaker was Dr. Rosarii Griffin, addressing mainly the issues raised in the position paper of Patricia Charlton, Gianna Avellis and Sam Scott. Namely, she addressed the topics of Gender Gap : according to the UN “At the current rate of change, the global gender gap will not close for another 100 years” (UN, 2022). ‘Individual strategies are not the solution to the structural problem of inequality; equality of opportunity does not lead to equity and equity is not enough what is needed is social justice’ (Charleton, 2022), i.e. Woman ‘change thyself’ has been the mantra (more training, do this, less of that, etc.) instead of focusing on the structural issues which prevent or mitigate against change.
If we consider justice to be “structural solution-building” (Fielding-Miller et al, 2020) so we might think of social justice as restructuring subjective judgement about what is considered to be a just and fair distribution of power.
The first step is to encourage those who hold power to acknowledge and unpack their “invisible knapsack” (McIntosh, 1989, pp.1) of unearned privilege and give away some of their power.
Unconscious acceptance [of bias] can explain the more implicit rules of an unjust society, whilst explicit barriers are in place as a result of a conscious effort to maintain the existing division of power.
This goes some way to explain the unconscious acceptance and internalisation of barriers by women and a lack of realisation by men as to the barriers women encounter.
Furthermore, these rules are fluid, there appears to be an ebb and flow of progress towards a more just society.
One such area where social justice appears to be both advancing and retreating is on all social media platforms where we have simultaneously witnessed the ‘MeToo’ Movement and the continuation of explicit abuse towards women.
Rosarii Griffin also addressed the Irish background policy context in gender equality, the EU context and finally the 10-recommendations made by the EU project GENOVATE. The ATHENA SWAM Charter was illustrated: it is adopted by UK, Irish and Australian Universities and is now linked to research funding.
The issues raised in the Gender Research Ireland Symposium, held just some days before the Workshop in Bari, were underlined such as intersectionality and to unpick how current system is maintained in order to tackle institutional, structural barriers ‘hidden in plain sight’ in order to achieve social justice
Gianna Avellis introduced the Aim of the Workshop that is understanding the role of Identities (intersectionality) and stereotypes to break through the hidden cultures in STEM/STEAM that are preventing women’s career opportunities
The problems, challenges and research questions were explained during the Workshop presentation of Gianna Avellis, as well as the objectives of the research:
The scope of our research is to tackle diversity and inclusion of women and girls in science through the digital living mentoring and learning hub based on mobile technologies and sharable wearable IoT applications. The two objectives defined in the research are the following:
- O1) Discover and identify the hidden phenomena and reasons for younger women, especially NEET (Not in Education Employment and Training) women and girls, to quit the pursuit of technological greatness during the process of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics(STEM) education. To do so, we aim to understand the obstacles in achieving the aspirations of learners in the current STEM education system by ethnographic study (i.e., non-intrusive systematic observations).
To address the gender divide we will promote role models supporting a more inclusive environment for women and girls in STEM.
- O2) Intervene the STEM education to promote women and girls engagement with appropriate measures and find recommendations to rectify these trends. To do so, we aim to instrument the current delivery of education inside and outside the school by innovative pedagogy approaches and evaluate the effectiveness of such intervention through engaging activities such as via sharable wearable IoT applications and mobile technologies such as intelligent chatboat.
This will result in a reduction of the barrier to engaging with STEM through design.
To achieve these two objectives, we bridge the silos of educators and learners through a mobile communication channel implemented as a chatbot (we call “Mobile Twin Peaks”). It continuously monitors the insights and recommends / suggests progressive actions to take in iterative education processes.
Chatbots are computer programs used to conduct auditory or textual conversations and are becoming a ubiquitous trend in many fields such as medicine, product and service industry, and education.
We discussed two substantial barriers for women: a culture of injustice that is hidden in plain sight and a wall of silence that ensures injustice can continue. This is a different perspective building on the work of others to move the focus from equality/equity to social justice.
The position paper addressing the issues below, define and explain the impact hidden in plain sight and the wall of silence by examining the explicit and implicit challenges women face with the society, STEM related education and careers and more specifically ICT careers.
Gianna mentioned two books of reference for this workshop, namely the LEAN IN book of Cheryl Sandberg and the INVISIBLE WOMEN book of Caroline Criado Perez.
LEAN IN book poses a set of ambitious challenges to women: to creates the lives we want, to be leaders in our work, to be partners in our homes, and to be champions-role models of other women. LEAN IN is an important book that companies for example can use to get the most out of their talents. Sheryl provides practical suggestions for managing and overcoming the challenges that arise in the “jungle gym” of career advancement. As FACEBOOK COO Sheryl Sandberg has first-hand experience of why having more women in leadership roles is good for business as well as the society. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make you inferior without your permission” and with stories form her own life and carefully researched data, Sheryl Sandberg reminds women that they have to believe in themselves and reach for opportunities.
INVISIBLE WOME book shows us how in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the Gender Data Gap – a Gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual systematic discrimination against women, has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect in women’s lives. Caroline Criado Perez brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories, and new research from across the world that illustrate the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the impact that this can have on their health and well-being. From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, urban planning and the media, INVISIBLE WOMEN book reveals the biased data, the stereotypes that excludes women.
Gianna Avellis strongly suggested reading these book as in making the case for change, these powerful and provocative books will make you see the world anew.
Gianna concluded her keynote speech by pointing out the Educational Gender Equality Paradox, that is“Countries with lower levels of gender equality had relatively more women among STEM graduates than did more gender equal countries”: more gender-equal countries support educational and empowerment opportunities and generally promote girls’ and women’s engagement in STEM fields resulting in the identified paradox. This is because the higher level of equality the more choices are available. Females could take more risk in their careers and consider a more life work balance. Essentially, the perceived social and cultural context to achieve a successful career, in certain science fields, require long working hours, an antisocial competitive working environment that often appears to lack or explicitly identify with community values (social good) and is portrayed as isolating rather than collaborative.
Then the conclusion is that culture and values, either perceived or real, impact females’ decision, especially in more gender-equal countries where other equally fulfilling careers are an option.
The second speaker Prof. Carla Petrocelli from UNIBA and ITARSA presented an extract of her book The Computer is Women by illustrating the role model of Hedy Lamar, precursory of the current GPS and WIFI. Other role models were presented by Prof. Angela Agostiano, UNIBA and ITARSA and President of the European Chemistry Society, presenting her true success story, and Dr. Jenny Elmanco, MCAA ASEAN Chapter and GEDI WG, illustrating several role models in STEAM (Computer software – Grace Hopper, Caller ID and call waiting – Dr Shirley Ann Jackson
Caller ID and call waiting – Dr Shirley Ann Jackson, Space station batteries – Olga D Gonzalez-Sanabria – to mention some of them) and addressing the more general issue of Gender in Science, Education and Research.
The STEAM approach in research and innovation has been underlined by the speaker Angela Bellia, member of MCAA Italy Chapter and member of ITARSA. She has highlighted the approach in the specific field of Sonic Heritage where the contribution of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme has been evaluated.
Further, the workshop discussed the Gender Gap in the recommendations of the Women20, the engagement group of G20 on gender equality in the speech of Elvira Marasco, chair of AW20 (Association of Women20), Delegate of Women20.
Prof. Serenella Molendini, President of CREIS and National Parity Counsellor in Italy, illustrated in her talk the Italian situation on the Gender Gap in the STEAM, with very interesting data on the percentage of women researchers and professors in Italian Universities.
Finally, Carlo Antonini, MCAA GEDI WG and Italy Chapter, introduced the work of MCAA GEDI WG and Corinne Portioli, MCAA Communication WG, presented a session on MCAA in general and, more specifically, provided to the students of the University of Bari and researchers of the university some hints on how to write a successful application of Individual Fellowship of MSCA. The target group of researchers and students from UNIBA were very happy to be informed of the MSCA grants and as feedback underlined the necessity of having some help from the local university and MCAA in the process of applying to the MSCA IF.
Dalton Gordon, chair of ICoRSA and PLOCAN project manager, illustrated the projects currently undertaken by ICoRSA and PLOCAN such as RRING, GRRIP, MUSICA, OPUS, RAISE, and SECURE, in which MCAA plays a role.
The networking among the several associations such as ICoRSA, STEMIAMOCI, ITWIIN, MCAA; ITARSA has been facilitated then by a short presentation of the aims and activities of each association in the final session.
The site of the workshop, that is the Sala A.Leogrande, kindly offered by the local University of Bari, near to the Atheneum has made more straightforward and smoother the contacts with the students, researchers and professors and has guaranteed the possibility to make in a more efficient and immediate the involvement of these “privileged actors” in the initiatives programmed by ITARSA and MCAA.
We had in total about 150 persons, more precisely 49 registered persons attended the workshop in person (but the hall was full of people at the least at the beginning and it was of 130 places) and 83 registered persons attending the event online.
The Coffee Break and the Networking Cocktail kindly offered by ItalianRSA were an opportunity to link the different actors of the workshop.
During the final session of the workshop Dalton Gordon from ICoRSA launched a proposal for a joint statement from ICoRSA, EURODOC and MCAA on Researchers at Risk in Iran, Ukraine and Afghanistan, especially women, and identified as a possible action to identify Sanctuary Universities to host these researchers at Risk in Europe.