15th Anna Mani Lecture

15th Anna Mani Lecture by V. Sujatha: 10 November 2022, Thursday at 4 pm

YouTube live stream link: https://youtu.be/gWKTVmR2VgI

Title: “Science, society and culture: International comparisons of gender asymmetries in science and technology”

Abstract: Studies on women in science and technology mechanically reproduce the glass ceiling theory in a linear fashion by regarding the barriers to women in science to be greater in the emerging economies of the global South than in the industrially advanced countries of the global North. International comparisons of data however, show that the countries with the most civic liberties for women such as Sweden, Germany, France, the UK and the US, ironically suffer more from the lowered presence of women in S&T at the entry level, doctoral research level and in tenured positions than the Catholic countries like Portugal, Spain and Brazil, Muslim majority countries such as Albania and Malaysia and family centered societies like India and Korea. Why is it so? It is my argument that the glass ceiling works differently in societies to produce a dynamic that is synergic with the cultural milieu of that society. Thus a culture of scientism, which we find in the global North, could create a bigger barrier than familism in the global South, by impacting the self- perception of women.

While the gender asymmetries in the appointments to higher positions and to coveted awards in S&T can be observed world over and the global South is as abysmal in this respect, the manner in which bias operates between the systems of evaluation and the systems of power in a society will have to be understood to develop suitable policy responses to the issues on the ground. Drawing on perspectives on sociology of knowledge, this lecture aims at providing an explanation for the comparative data on women in S&T through five moments in the progression of their career path. It will also touch upon on intangible qualitative issues in work roles such as working style, innovation and professional visibility and evoke a discussion.

Bio of the Speaker: V. Sujatha is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She specializes in the fields of sociology of knowledge and sociology of health and medicine. Her research focuses on the dynamic interface between knowledge, social structure and state policy. Her publications include the books: ‘Health by the people’ (2003), ‘Medical pluralism in contemporary India’ (Co-editor Leena Abraham; 2012), ‘Sociology of health and medicine. New Perspectives’ (2014) and ‘Global capital and social difference’ (2020), apart from research articles in refereed journals and writings in Tamil intellectual journals. She has been a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Sociology, University of Freiburg and the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg in Germany, FLACSO in Argentina, and the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. She received the UGC-DAAD fellowship for fieldwork in Germany and the ICSSR-NIHSS fellowship for research at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Presently, she is working on social inequality and access to medicine in rural Madhya Pradesh, with a focus on the role of unqualified medical practitioners in health care in India, on which she has submitted a book length report to the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) in 2022.