Polis Perspective 03/07/2015: Gender and power in science and development: gender discrimination is not a joke

Posted by / 3rd July 2015 / Categories: Polis / -


Stephanie Halksworth: Gender and power in science and development: gender discrimination is not a joke

Polis Perspectives are weekly perspectives of our team on Polis-related topics. We also share our favourite articles and tweets. This week’s perspective is written by Stephanie Halksworth on Tonya Blowers’ article “Focus on Gender: Sex, power and scientific influence” SciDev.Net, 24/6/2015.

In the article ‘Focus on Gender: Sex, power and scientific influence’ Tonya Blowers reflects on some pressing questions about gender, power and influence in the global scientific community, and considers the implications of Tim Hunt’s words and why we need policies that favour women’s inclusion as decision-makers.

In the case of Tim Hunt’s sexist outburst, such comments cannot be taken lightly, especially from a notably influential voice in the scientific community. His words are reflective of an antiquated and seriously detrimental attitude towards women and women’s role in science, an attitude that needs to be expunged at all levels. The fact that Hunt insists it was said in jest makes matters worse – gender inequality and discrimination are still a tragic reality, a reality all too often considered inconsequential and inferior in the list of priorities.

Women leaders in both the scientific and political spheres are still underrepresented to say the least. The article’s data conveys dismal figures with regard to the gender split of parliamentarians globally. As Blowers emphasises, we need to ‘bring more women into influential societies and committees that traditionally have been dominated by men’. This would lead to a fundamental shift in priorities and gender policies that would significantly benefit the scientific community as well as society as a whole.

The inclusion of women research leaders in community projects is imperative, asserts Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for environment, water and natural resources. For example, as water has been traditionally women’s responsibility, conferring with women has lead to bringing clean drinking water to many Kenyan villages. Blowers hits the nail on the head with the key message: ‘if scientific research is to benefit local communities and economies, women’s needs and experiences must be built into both the design and the implementation process’. The inclusion of women as decision-makers and leaders in all spheres, including the scientific, political and developmental fields is not just a matter of fair representation, but a necessary move that will advance society at all levels.

Polis Star Articles of the Week

Tonya Blowers: ‘Focus on gender: sex, power, and scientific influence’, SciDev.Net, 24/06/2015

Mark Malloch-Brown: ‘The UN is an under-funded bureaucratic labyrinth – and a force for good in the world’, The Telegraph, 26/06/2015

Chris Blattman: ‘Migration is the most effective development intervention on the planet, part XXVI’, Chris Blattman Blog, 17/06/2015

Polis TweetOur Favourite Tweets @polisproject

@meowtree: 9 Annoying Non-Profit Trends that Need to Die.

@rakidi: The 9 countries with the most entrepreneurs; #Uganda comes top. #Entrepreneurship

@polisproject: “Africa’s story isn’t one of chronic slow growth, but of boom bust & boom again” – A must read review #globaldev


For more in-depth articles and research, visit our Polis Publications page.


Related Posts

Connecting Local Realities: The case of women’s groups in Kenya
Stephanie Halksworth / 1st June 2015
The Dark Side of International Volunteering: shedding light on its negative impact
Stephanie Halksworth / 7th April 2015
About the author
Stephanie Halksworth is a core team member at ReSeT. She specialises in transnational relations with a special focus on the Latin American and Caribbean regions.

Comments are closed.