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Challenging the March for Science


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This is the first of two talks I was invited to give in New Zealand in September 2017. It is fitting to share this today, on the second March for Science event happening in over 200 cities around the world, including Australia. I introduce a diversity framework to take you through a few examples of how White women and underrepresented minorities challenged the March for Science. This talk includes discussion of four social science concepts to organise some of the issues that emerged in the March: equity, inclusion, access and intersectionality. I show how we can use this diversity framework in planning more inclusive science movements.

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Challenging the March for Science

  1. 1. Challenging the March for Science Dr Zuleyka Zevallos @OtherSociology Intersectionality at the Coal Face
  2. 2. Overview • Background to the March • Diversity • Equity • Inclusion • Access • Intersectionality • Discourses • Science • Anti-diversity in the march
  3. 3. Background • Announced 24 January 2017 • Protest on 22 April 2017 • Created and largely promoted on social media • No social movement leadership experience • Equity and diversity were afterthoughts
  4. 4. Equity • Equity: barriers, issues & solutions to structural disadvantage • Undermining women’s contributions • Flamed racism towards people of colour • Ignored disabled researchers • Erased LGBTQIA scientists
  5. 5. Challenging equity issues Ask ourselves: who should lead? • Indigenous leadership • Other people of colour • Disability experts • LGBTQIA representatives • Social movement organisers • Equity & diversity practitioners • Specialist members
  6. 6. Inclusion • Inclusion: actively seeking out, valuing and respecting differences • Indigenous Science Declaration • Predates Western models • Memories, wisdom & deep knowledges • Cultural frameworks of respect, reciprocity, responsibility, healing • Communities abused as research subjects & still suffer • Symbiosis of collaboration Drafted by Native Amercian scientists, Robin Kimmerer (Potawatomi), Ph.D., Rosalyn LaPier (Blackfeet/Métis), Ph.D., Melissa Nelson (Anishinaabe), Ph.D. and Kyle Whyte (Potawatomi), Ph.D (2017) ”Indigenous Science Statement for the March for Science.” Last accessed 14 April 2018:
  7. 7. Challenging inclusion issues How can I remove barriers? • Embrace inclusion in event coordination • Publicise equity & diversity statement • Clear anti-harassment policies • Address safety • Form partnerships with experienced social movement organisers • Promote event with minority communities in mind • Seek feedback from vulnerable groups • Craft a communication strategy
  8. 8. Access • Access: opportunities to enhance participation • “Forgot” disabled people in first diversity statement • Delayed accessibility strategy • Refused leadership of disabled scientists • No accessibility plan • Lacked disabled speakers
  9. 9. Challenging access issues When can I help enhance participation? • Demonstrate active commitment • Decision-making by disabled experts • Accessibility planning from Day 1 • Test venue or protest path • Consult diverse minority groups • Accessible promotion materials • Hearing loops, closed captions, sign interpreters • Schedule disabled speakers • Consider timing, rest, quiet areas
  10. 10. Intersectionality • Intersectionality: gender and racial inequalities are interconnected & compound other forms of disadvantage • Abused leadership of Black, Indigenous and other women of colour • Demanded emotional labour • Centred Whiteness
  11. 11. Challenging issues of intersectionality Where do race & gender interconnect? • Active management • Leaders address structural inequities • Use visuals & language that reflect diversity • Reward the work of volunteers • Consider training • Moderate online discussions • Reduce emotional labour for minorities • Apologise & reflect for mistakes • Address underrepresented scientists • Use White privilege constructively
  12. 12. Discourses of science • Discourse: use of language to establish & justify dominance • Reinforces status quo • Normalises existing power • E.g. Stories we tell about science focus on White men • Organisers said the march is: • “Not political;” & • “Not about scientists, but about science”
  13. 13. Anti-diversity discourse in the March for Science Discouraging diversity (N=188) Example comments Politicising (N=88) 57 men, 90 women, 1 gender unknown “Stick to the science.” “Identity politics.” “This is what we are marching against.” Dividing N=49 (30 men, 19 women) “Diversity is divisive.” “Stop pandering.” “This happened with Women’s March….” Depreciating N=27 (10 men, 17 women) “Science is already diverse!” “Science is equal and inclusive by nature.” “Science is neutral. It doesn’t discriminate.” Distracting N=24 (10 men, 14 women) “Diversity is important but don't let it derail your message.” “Please don't put diversity over merit.” “All are welcome but don’t let it fracture us.” Z. Zevallos (2017) Analyzing the March for Science Diversity Discourse, DiverseScholar, 8:1
  14. 14. Anti-diversity discourse in the March for Science Encouraging diversity (N=148) Example comments Informing N=3 (3 women) “Science is dominated by straight White men.” “Science has been unwelcoming to many groups.” “As a marginalised woman in science, thank you!” Enhancing N=145 (57 male, 87 women, 1 gender unknown) “Diversity is making steps to be inclusive.” “Intersectionality matters to the whole protest.” “Diverse thinking needs diverse people.” Z. Zevallos (2017) Analyzing the March for Science Diversity Discourse, DiverseScholar, 8:1
  15. 15. Challenging anti-diversity discourse • Organised using social media • Collective action • Changed the discourse: #marginsci (Dr Stephani Page) • Public & private support • Used science • Discussed empirical data • Documented discussions • Published research • Mainstream media • Op eds • Interviews
  16. 16. Challenging anti-diversity discourse Peggy McIntosh (1989) 'White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,' Peace and Freedom Magazine, July/August, pp. 10-12. Ijeoma Oluo [@ijeomaoluo] (2017) ‘Look for where your privilege intersects…' Twitter, 9 February. Last accessed 14 April 2018:
  17. 17. Questions for us • Would I know true equity when I see it? • How can I better support inclusion? • How I can make my next event accessible? • How can I begin to practice intersectionality in event planning? • What discourse do I contribute to? • What will I do to lesson racism inequity? • Where does my privilege intersect with someone’s oppression? Dr Zuleyka Zevallos/ @OtherSociology Accessible version of handout: