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Writing Women Back Into the History of STEM

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University of Toronto is holding a Wikipedia Editathon to make the 2019 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Here is my keynote talk from the event on Thursday, February 7th, 2019.

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Writing Women Back Into the History of STEM

  1. 1. Writing women back into the of history STEM Gerstein Science Library University of Toronto 4 pm, Thursday February 7th, 2019 Dawn Bazely, Faculty of Science, York University, Toronto, Canada with many thanks to Professor Kate McPherson Department of History, York University Marking the International Day of Women & Girls in Science Monday February 11th, 2019
  2. 2. I’m not doing this alone Prof. Kate McPherson (L) & former Dean of Science, Ryerson U, Imogen Coe (R)
  3. 3. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & feminist history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 4, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  4. 4. Women Nobel Laureates 853 men, 51 women & 24 unique organizations (Wikipedia) Figure screen capped from the Nobel Org. webpage
  5. 5. I wrote a WaPo oped about Women in STEM in Wikipedia after Donna Strickland was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics • her wikipedia page was originally rejected for “technical” reasons • even though she clearly met the notability criteria • read my oped here: • https://www.washingtonpost.com/ outlook/2018/10/08/why-nobel- winner-donna-strickland-didnt- have-wikipedia-page/?utm_term=. 10fe2d3c8fce
  6. 6. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & feminist history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 4, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  7. 7. 1980-84 field work on Hudson Bay, Canada
  8. 8. About 2,000 km or > 1,200 miles from U of T! I did my BSc (Biogeography & Environmental Studies) & MSc (Botany) here, at U of T
  9. 9. 1990 — Back to Canada • I joined York University, Toronto, in 1990, after doing a doctorate (1988) at Oxford University, and post-docs at Oxford & Cambridge Universities • I became a member of the committee supporting the Advisor on the Status of Women to the York U president • I read this 1992 report from York University Faculty of Graduate Studies ➡➡➡ • I thought we were on the right track 🚊 • But, like the students back in 1992, in 2019, I’m not satisfied yet
  10. 10. 2017: Receiving the title of University Professor, York University With Faculty of Science Dean Ray Jayawardhana
  11. 11. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & feminist history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 4, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  12. 12. 2016: Prof. Emerita Rusty Shteir invited me to participate in a history of botany conference! • Rusty was interested in Wikipedia editathons for Women in STEM • I was: 🤩 • Then: 🤔 • Then: 🥵😱 • So I enlisted a history professor’s help • Kate is the former chair of Women’s Studies (now Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies) YorkU • She is my co-author and has been invaluable in helping me to situate my advocacy in a scholarly framework
  13. 13. Expert women’s botany in the de- feminized post-Flora’s Daughters’ World Ontario 1870-1915 Dawn R. Bazely Biology with Kate McPherson History A huge HT to Erin Aults & Stephanie Bellissimo RBG Library & Archives Dr. Janet Friskney, LAPS
  14. 14. With help from #ActualLivingHistorians & librarians, we explored: • how disruptive technologies in Ontario (1870-1915) enabled women’s participation in public & professional (paid) botanical activities — natural history and horticulture • inexpensive (colour) print technology • free public education, which is a kind of social technology that increased literacy • I hypothesized that they were a key driver of women participating in public botany
  15. 15. Why 1870-1915? • 1871 Ontario Comprehensive School Act for free schools (Egerton Ryerson) • 1912 Canada’s first female science professor (Carrie Derick appointed Professor in Botany at McGill) • I rounded up and down to the nearest 0 or 5 years! Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6937887
  16. 16. (White) women…1870-1915… were • writing & illustrating: • field guides • gardening books • for horticultural magazines • participating in “professional” horticultural societies • breeding new varieties of plants • running profitable garden businesses • advocating for public education about botany
  17. 17. 1895
  18. 18. 1895
  19. 19. 1895
  20. 20. 1895
  21. 21. still in print in 1973 Methodist & Steward of Methodist Book & Publishing House, later Ryerson Press 1899 1894 1885
  22. 22. The Canadian Horticulturalist Mags; 1904 Recommended Book List •Only 1 of 18 popular gardening books on the list was ), the others * + •Mrs. Annie L. Jack •Pocket Help for the “Amateur” 1903 •free with a subscription to The Canadian Horiculturalist magazine
  23. 23. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & feminist history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 5, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  24. 24. I knew, from being a student in the 1970s-80s… • That awareness of gender gaps in STEM advocacy had led to many policies • in1970s-90s the policies aimed to increase female intake to STEM programmes • science was gendered as being male, and simply needed to switch to being gender neutral • there were pushes for more publicly-funded daycare, for example UBC Prof. Judy Myers
  25. 25. Biology programmes have been 50:50 undergraduates since my day the policies didn’t bring the expected results of more women at all STEM levels (i.e. a reversal of the leaky pipeline)
  26. 26. In the 1980s & 1990s feminist historians were re-writing women back into the historical timeline… what happened?
  27. 27. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 5, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  28. 28. Here’s what brings me here today
  29. 29. A 2013 Council of Ontario Universities Invited Sustainability Symposium at YorkU was 100% male I emailed & spoke with the Ontario Research Chair organizers, and speakers about the unacceptability of this 2015, 2 of them did it again (above, starred) http://dawnbazely.lab.yorku.ca/2015/09/open-letter-asking-the-canadian-academic-stem-community-to- improve-gender-balance-in-speaker-line-ups/ http://sciencepolicy.ca/simple-policy-will-shift-social-norms-right-direction-canadian-women-stem Another proximate cause of what brought me here today
  30. 30. –Mildred Dresselhaus, physicist, MIT, b.1930 Reflections of a woman pioneer, by Vijaysree Venkataraman, Nov. 11, 2014, Science “Q: Are there hidden barriers to women’s advancement? A: Yes. I was a great believer in the idea of a critical mass of female students. With a minimum of 15% in each class, I thought the lack of isolation would be enough. The guys would get it and everything would change automatically. In the 1980s, we were coasting toward these numbers. At the faculty level, men and women seemed to have equal chance of attaining tenure. In 1984, I became president of the American Physical Society and focused less on these women’s liberation-related issues. I genuinely believed I had done something towards bringing us closer to parity in over 15 years. A decade later, Nancy Hopkins initiated her eye-opening study on the status of women at MIT. The data on pay scales, lab space, and other resources allotted to women showed how wrong I was. I thought numbers alone could stimulate a change in attitudes. Nancy said that we’d have to beat on these guys to change things..” Wow!
  31. 31. 2014-15: #YorkUSci50 anniversary celebrations • the organizing committee selected a keynote alumni speaker who was a white man • I proposed that they add a more diverse speaker line-up who reflect our student demographics • no luck — 🙉🙈🙊 • so, with science profs, Sampa Bhadra and Michael de Robertis, I organized an alternative conference • it featured women alumni & the retired Dean of Science & Engineering (right), Professor Gillian Wu • ps I recently met the author of her Wikipedia page Another proximate cause of what brought me here today
  32. 32. Why did the 1970s-90s project to increase female intake fail to shift cultural norms? A. Research from the Social Sciences has demonstrated the systemic impacts of implicit or unconscious bias. B. Social media has led to increasing awareness that… … STEM #BoysWithToys can be sexual harassers, just like in every other segment of society … Clancy et al. 2014 New Stuff
  33. 33. An essential read for all in STEM Published: July 16, 2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102172 New Stuff
  34. 34. Take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test • To help you to overcome your confirmation bias • I did • I discovered that I’m racist & sexist • I unconsciously defer to white males as authority figures • YES, ME 😟😳😱😤🤔 New Stuff
  35. 35. Unconscious Bias is Everywhere • Prof. Ben Schmidt, Northeastern University studies the history of #BigData • Interactive tool that analyzes how students use descriptive words to describe professors’ teaching • By discipline, gender, and whether rating was positive or negative
  36. 36. Gendered Language in Student Evaluations of Teachers Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
  37. 37. Gendered Language in Student Evaluations of Teachers Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
  38. 38. Women whose contributions are known to STEM are continuously being written out of history • Lorrie Dunington-Grubb’s contribution to Canadian landscape architecture is know, but her husband is featured prominently in a recent history book & she’s not there • the major contribution of maps, by Virginia Marie Peterson, to the iconic field guides (a genre pioneered by women) is all but forgotten — the significance of her work is not mentioned on the Peterson’s Field Guide Wikipedia page • women in STEM whose Wikipedia pages are being flagged for deletions • … Prof. Donna Strickland is not alone…
  39. 39. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 5, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  40. 40. The Social Media Game-Changer • creates the critical mass of women in STEM and allies imagined by Mildred Dresselhaus • overcomes isolation • allows networking and the sharing of stories • leverages & magnifies local, individual action Take action
  41. 41. Bringing regular, annual International Ada Lovelace Day events to Canada • In 2013 I started discussing the idea of Ada Lovelace Day with Science & Engineering Librarian, John Dupuis (right, centre) • In 2015 we held our first event at YorkU in October • Lassonde School of Engineering had just hired an Assistant Dean of Inclusivity & Diversity, Marisa Sterling P. Eng. • John & I invited Marisa to help us • http://dawnbazely.lab.yorku.ca/2016/07/ six-steps-to-making-your-very-own-ada- lovelace-day-in-fall-2016/ Take action
  42. 42. About Ada Lovelace Day #ALD • An International celebration of Women in STEM • Named for the first computer programmer, Countess Ada Lovelace (1815 —1852) • Founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson • YorkU inaugural ALD speaker, Prof. Imogen Coe, Dean of Science, Ryerson University (right) Take action
  43. 43. #ALD2016 #YorkU: U of T Astrophysicist & Canada Research Chair, Professor Bryan Gaensler Bryan’s talk on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JB9BMIE6WI Take action
  44. 44. #ALD2017 #YorkU: Science communicator & social justice activist, Elly Zupko #WomenAreAllOverIt T-shirt Elly’s talk on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-JWLsaXp2g&t=311s ps her Wikipedia page was rejected “not notable” “a one-off” yet another “one- off” got to keep HIS wikipedia page 🤔 Take action
  45. 45. Wikipedia Edit-a-thons • A popular Ada Lovelace Day activity • Recognizes that women are under-represented in Wikipedia • Edit-a-thons edit and create Wikipedia pages for notable women in STEM and are Open Access • Judy Myers’ page https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Judith_H._Myers Take action
  46. 46. Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Visva Bharati, March 20, 2018 • There’s lots of “how-to” advice • It’s easier than it looks • PROOF: I learned to do it • Find a friendly STEM librarian to help you • My Prof. Kathy Martin page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Kathy_Martin_(scientist) • But, be prepared for push- back and drive-by deletions Take action
  47. 47. Thank you! to staff of the Visva Bharati Computer Science Office for giving us access to this excellent computer workspace!
  48. 48. Networking uncovers allies • nearer home: Dr. Eden Hennessey did her Phd at Laurier University in social psychology • her research examined barriers faced by Women in STEM through a photographic and art lens • #DistractinglyHonest & #DistractinglySexist are travelling exhibits Take action
  49. 49. 🗣A timeline for my talk⏳ 1. Women Nobel Laureates • the case of Donna Strickland’s Wikipedia page 2. My mini-timeline in STEM 3. Women have always done STEM 4. 1970-90s: policy & history 5. Why those policies failed 6. Current actions for countering this 7. Strategies for the future October 5, 2018 at an NSERC consultation on developing an Athena SWAN programme for Canada, I met Donna Strickland who asked me to add her children to her Wikipedia page. Photo credit: Naomi Adelson
  50. 50. There are calls for more films by women, about women, including women of colour, and men. E.g. Hidden Figures is about the black women mathematicians who were integral to NASA’s space race. INTERSECTIONALITY is a vital concept. We need to write them BACK into the historical record, where they WERE previously known!
  51. 51. Diann Jordan’s 2006 book Take action
  52. 52. Keep Networking to find allies • Some women in STEM advocates that I have met via Twitter: • Dr. Mel Thomson & Dr. Jenny Martin in Australia • Dr. Victoria Metcalf in New Zealand • Dr. Hilary Lappin-Scott in Wales, UK Take action
  53. 53. Keep Networking to find allies • In 2015, we learned that Dr. Melanie Thomson, @DrMel_T, was visiting New York City from Australia • We invited her to take a side trip to Toronto • She spoke about SAGE Pilot Australia, which was modelled on Athena SWAN • We are now having a national conversation about this Take action
  54. 54. Educate senior STEM academics & get them to be Active Bystanders • students cannot be expected to bear the burden of change • senior academics must create the space for the conversation & be held accountable for not taking appropriate action • https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/academic-gossip-network-fails-punish- senior-scientists Take action
  55. 55. Prof. Michael Kimmel TED talk
  56. 56. Nominate women for prestigious awards This helps them to meet the Wikipedia page notability criteria — which will probably STILL be challenged for deletion — see Jess Wade’s recent tweets In 2016, Prof. Imogen Coe, Dean of Science at Ryerson University, Toronto, was named one of: Take action
  57. 57. In 2017, Imogen brought Soapbox Science to Canada Since giving the Inaugural Ada Lovelace Day lecture in 2015, Imogen has given 100s of talks advocating for Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity and Women in STEM
  58. 58. In 2017, Dean Imogen Coe co- hosted a roundtable: EDI in STEM — forging paths to enhanced innovation Ass’t Dean Marisa Sterling, P. Eng. organized the annual Dec. 4th remembrance of the 1989 Montreal Massacre at YorkU
  59. 59. Advocate for diverse, inclusive speaker line-ups: as when I co- organized Toronto’s March for Science, 2017
  60. 60. Toronto’s March for Science 2017: everyone turned out
  61. 61. October 2017 #TimesUp #MeToo Take action
  62. 62. Recognition for Dr. Rosalind Franklin • Involves putting a woman back into her rightful place in the historical record, even though she didn’t win the Nobel Prize: • see Dr. Mark Lawler’s article in The Conversation • and also, re-evaluating the actions, including, those up to the present, of Dr. James Watson
  63. 63. TAKE HOMES 1. The focus of activism by women in STEM has changed from increasing intake to the pipeline, to actions aimed at increasing retention (Clancy et al. address this) 2. The role that systemic biases play in driving out and erasing the contributions of Women in STEM is being analyzed by social sciences colleagues 3. Social Media continues to connect previously isolated Women in STEM and their allies. 4. Open Access platforms such as Wikipedia, despite the hostility of some segments of the community, are key to the re-writing of women in STEM back into history.
  64. 64. “Thank you for inviting me, Farah and Heather!”

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