I’m going to stop marvelling at how much time has passed since the last time I posted updates about my professional life, as it’s clearly been unforgivably way-too-long! A gentle reminder that my research blog, The Other Sociologist, has more regular posts about my research outside my paid work. My updates here are more about my public sociology. Nevertheless, I’m eternally sorry that I update here far less frequently than I hope to.
Happy lunar new year and happy 2019! The end of last year flew by in a whirl. October 2018 was busy as I geared up to leave on a six-week secondment. I worked with Barang Regional Alliance on their Youth Summit and Three-Year Youth Plan. Barang is the backbone for Aboriginal-controlled organisations in the Central Coast of New South Wales. I lived in the Central Coast from the end of October to early December. You can see some of my adventures on my Instagram and hopefully more soon on my research blog.
After some lovely rest and interstate travel, it’s been back to work on scaling up our vocational education trials and scoping other exciting new projects.
In January 2019, Lady Science published a podcast about my career and feminism. I talk about what sociology is and how Indigenous and other minority sociologists continue to challenge Western and colonial methods and ideas in sociology and in social policy. I also discuss the concept of ‘otherness,’ which unpacks how ideas of difference position dominant and less powerful groups. Take a listen to see how we can improve societies by being more aware of power and fighting institutional inequality.
A new textbook on Social Deviance lists my research blog as a resource for the sociology of mundane deviance. This is not quite how I would categorise what Professor Philomena Essed calls ‘everyday racism.’ This is the connections between routine interactions which reproduce racism and institutional discrimination. Still, Professor Henry sees a connection between microaggressions and social deviance.
When the Journal of Mundane Behaviour closed down in 2004, it left a gap in the field, which was filled in 2011 by Zuleyka Zeallos, an applied sociologist of Latin-Australian background, and her blog site: https://othersociologist.com. This site is worth exploring for the everyday, unremarkable practices in which humans engage that are “common, unexciting or ‘humdrum’ and provides a glipse at mundane deviance, with which it often overlaps when observing the irreverent aspects of social life. Yet the site also shows how the mundane practices and a series of “microaggressions” can socially construct consequential stereotypical categories sucha as “race.”
Professor Henry lectures in criminal justice and is Director of the School of Public Affairs, San Diego State University.
You can read other textbooks which reference my work under Citations.
It’s almost the end of July; where have the past three months gone? In May, I was interviewed by Newsweek about the sociological considerations of colonising space. Specifically, the exploitation of human labour required to build new colonies, and the ongoing impact and intergenerational trauma of colonisation that still need attention on Earth.
Last week, I was interviewed by SBS News on how to deal with microaggressions. This is the routine harm done to minorities through so-called ‘jokes’ and comments that undermine, stereotype or belittle differences and make minority people feel excluded.
In case you missed it on my research blog, I wrote up my previous talks I delivered earlier in the year, on women in tech and eliminating racial discrimination. You can also watch a video of the talk I gave at the Science Pathways conference. I spoke about using intersectionality to make science more inclusive (I’m on from 1:57 minutes onward and again in the last 20 minutes for the panel Q&A).
I’ve also published a few ‘how to’ resources you might find useful:
If you’re wondering about the header image, which shows giant people on a raft, this is the masterful work by Ai Weiwei, Law of the Journey. It is made from inflatable lifejackets that wash up onshore when refugees land by boat seeking asylum. It was the highlight of this year’s Biennale art festival in Sydney. I will put this and my other photos from the festival on my research blog eventually.
Update time! Since we last caught up last month, I’ve spoken at a couple of events and given some interviews. I have a panel coming up today that you can join remotely (it’s free!). In case you missed it, on my research blog, I’ve written some reflections on the March for Science and provided tips to make science events and protests more inclusive.
On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018, I spoke at Redify, a software company, about strategies to increase the recruitment and promotion of minorities and White women in the tech sector.
On 20 March, ahead of Harmony Day, I was one of the speakers at an internal policy event celebrating multicultural inclusion in the public event. I spoke about how to respond to racism in the workplace and in other public places.
In late March, I gave a couple of interviews on Professor Terry Speed, a Fellow of the Academy of Science and sponsor of a gender equity program I used to manage. An investigation found that he sexually harassed a woman postdoc for two years. This case has been handled poorly by many organisations, including his employers and the Academy. I spoke with The Australian about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in higher education. I was also featured in the ABC Radio National’s Background Briefing, in their excellent but chilling expose that detailed the harassment by Professor Speed. I discussed the action I took trying to encourage the Academy to act as soon as the harassment case was made public.
Coming up, I’ll be on a panel at the Science Pathways conference today, on 23 April 2018, in Brisbane, from 1pm to 2.30pm AEST. The panel is titled, ‘Making Science Inclusive.’
More on the event and how to watch for free online, check out my blog!
And if you check out my blog just before 1pm, you’ll be able to access a description of the slides (don’t tell anyone else but you can see the post slides on my blog from 1pm, shhhhh!).
On Tuesday, I’m giving a keynote talk for Research Equity in New Zealand Aotearoa: A Suffrage Day Conversation. The event is held at the Royal Society Te Aparangi in Wellington, New Zealand, on 19 September 2017. I’ll talk about how to improve equity and increase diversity in research communities. The event is free to the public. Light refreshments from 5pm. Come along and say hello!
From the event description:
In this Suffrage Day event, Dr Zevallos will reflect on national approaches to improving the hiring, promotion, retention, recognition and participation of all women, specifically including Indigenous and transgender women, as well as other under-represented minorities in science. She will then be joined by panelists for a discussion of the specific needs of the NZ research community.
Dr Zuleyka Zevallos will then be joined by the following panelists (full panel TBC) for a discussion of the specific needs of the NZ research community. Audience questions will also be taken.
Chair: Craig Stevens, President of the NZ Association of Scientists
Anita Brady, Associate Dean (Teaching and Equity), Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington; Queer and Gender Area Chair, Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand
Di Tracey, Fisheries Scientist, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA); Women’s Network Coordinator for NIWA
Izzy O’Neill, National Coordinator – Thursdays in Black, NZUSA The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations; Researcher of the tertiary student (especially LGBTQIA) experience of sexual violence.
Joanna Kidman, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa; Associate Professor, Kaihautū, Te Kura Māori, Victoria University of Wellington, and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Researcher.
Richard Blaikie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, The University of Otago, and Vice-President (Physical Sciences) the Royal Society Te Apārangi
I was interviewed by Buzzfeed, about a new study by Professor Kate Clancy and colleagues, showing women of colour scientists are more likely to experience race and gender harassment. Women of colour scientists are also excessively critiqued for being either too feminine or masculine enough, they have their physical abilities questioned, and they are more likely to miss professional opportunities like conferences, fieldwork, classes and meetings because their workplaces are unsafe. My comments from the interview:
“The study really reinforces a lot of what the literature already tells us — that women of colour are more likely to experience multiple forms of harassment and feel more acutely the impact of a hostile work environment in the sciences,” Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia, told BuzzFeed News.
Although this isn’t the first study to show evidence of the “double bind” of racial- and gender-based harassment, some critics continue to deny that the effect is real.
“A lot of the pushback that we see in the individual scientific communities —astronomy or any other science — is that scientists want data,” Zevallos said. “And even though there’s a plethora of data, it’s like they need to see more data for themselves.”
The following is an excerpt; the second of a two-part interview with me on Mendeley Careers, first published on 17 May 2017. (Find part one here.)
Everyone knows how hard it is to get a tenure track role, but we maintain this illusion that this is the only way we can have a fulfilling job. I advise researchers to look beyond the stigma: once you step off the academic track, there’s a world of opportunities. I’ve done work with government, I’ve led a research team investigating environmental health and safety, I’ve worked with nonprofits. I come to my career with the knowledge that there is a lot of fluidity in what I can do. I may do a lot of consulting for a while, and then go back into working for a traditional research organisation.
Researchers should know: our skills are highly valued outside academia, we need to learn how to market them. We should find a way to show to clients and employers how those research skills can be useful. If you can master that, potential employers and clients will give you amazing opportunities. For example, I once went to a job interview for a role as a researcher, and based solely on the questions I asked, the employers in question offered me a management role on the spot.
A non-academic career role is nothing to be ashamed of; it is a source of pride that strengthens research impact on society, as it brings knowledge to new sectors. There are many, many organisations which are in dire need of scientific skills and expertise; in the process, you can achieve great progress for a variety of communities.
Last week, I was interviewed on Triple J radio for the program, The Hook Up. The show explored listeners’ experiences of sexual fetishisation and prejudice in relationships, as well as what it’s like being partned with people from minority backgrounds. A few minority background callers described feeling reduced to only one facet of their identity due to sexual racism. An Indigenous woman talked about the explicit and implicit racism she faces as someone perceived not to look and act like a “typical” Aboriginal woman (despite the diversity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). A woman of Indian background felt no strong cultural connection to India but was often placed in the position of being tokenised because of her heritage.
The discussion featured the talented Zambian-Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker Santilla Chingapie. She reflected on her SBS documentary Date My Race, where she shared her personal experiences being discriminated against as a Black Australian woman on dating apps. White Australian counsellor Sue Pratt talked about the challenging patterns that interracial couples experience as they attempt to work through cultural differences, as well as strategies to manage intercultural respect in relationships. Andy Trieu, Australian-Vietnamese co-host of the SBS TV show, Pop Asia, discussed how the only women who respond to him on dating apps are from similar Asian backgrounds. He expressed a curiosity about dating White women and why they may not be interested in him as an Asian man. Shantan Wantan Ichiban discussed the racist implications of the question “Where are you from?,” which is often used as opening line in bars and other pickup situations.
I discussed how people often try to frame sexual fetishes as a positive compliment, but that this is misguided. Racial fetishes are the twin side of the same coin of racism; on the one side are stereotypes that emphasise exotic otherness and on the other side are those same people who must navigate multiple experiences of being discriminated against as they go about their daily lives. I note that one thing we can collectively do to start tackling sexual racism is to start having broader conversations about race and racism in Australia. Most of the people who have racial fetishes and those who exclude being open to dating particular groups have never had to think about their race. There are many resources available, including on social media, that are produced by minority groups, that help us all to better understand other cultures without fetishising differences and which break down negative biases.
The following is an excerpt; the first of a two-part interview with me on Mendeley Careers, first published on 17 May 2017.
Your speciality is the “Sociology of Work” – what are your sociological observations of the research workplace?
My focus is on gender equity and diversity. I have worked with many different organisations as a consultant and project manager; I’ve instructed them on how to review, enhance, and evaluate effectiveness of different policies. I’ve also provided consultancy on how to provide training at different levels so organisations can better understand their obligations and responsibilities.
My work includes enhancing workplace culture, particularly, the everyday cultural dynamics that impact on working life. For example, by offering more flexibility for workers, and looking at where there may be gaps or opportunities to enhance existing procedures. I also study how everyday interactions can enhance productivity. In other words, I don’t just look at how organisations can meet their legislative requirements, which are merely the minimum standard. I also work with teams to see how they interact and how organisations can create policies to suit their unique workplace needs.
In the course of my career, I have worked with a number of research organisations, mainly here in Australia, such as the Academy of Science. I helped them implement their gender and diversity programme. I have also worked with several other national and state research programmes, looking at how they can meet the challenges of intersectionality issues; that is, how they can better understand how gender equity and racism intersect along with other diversity needs, including those associated with class, sexuality, and disability.
I’m sad to say that the research community is far behind other sectors: bullying is much higher in academic and research contexts. Although there ought to be a better understanding of diversity, minorities report they are targeted via a variety of forms, including microaggressions – everyday comments and “jokes” that exclude or demean differences. Furthermore, compared to industry and government, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) people in the research sector are more likely to remain “in the closet.” Studies indicate people working in universities feel less safe in disclosing their sexual identity to their managers, and they feel more susceptible to harassment and homophobia. This is particularly prevalent in Australia and English speaking countries including the UK and USA.
My latest article is now on The Humanist (first published 15 May 2017). Below is an excerpt.
In his latest podcast episode titled “Forbidden Knowledge,” atheist author Sam Harris guides political scientist Charles Murray through an extensive defence of Murray’s widely debunked body of work, focusing mostly on The Bell Curve. Co-authored with psychologist Richard Herrnstein (who died around the time it was published in 1994), the book was universally critiqued as an example of modern-day scientific racism.
The Bell Curve was founded on a flawed premise that inferred a correlation between intelligence, socio-economic achievement, and genetics, without accounting for the effects of discrimination. The research was funded by the eugenics-promoting Pioneer Fund, while academics like Stephen Jay Gould showed that The Bell Curve obscured data.
Time has proven the book to be scientifically “reckless.” It enjoys a resurgence in 2017, the era of Trump, specifically because it is read as proof that White people are superior to racial minorities, especially Black and Latin people. […]
Harris’s characterizations of Murray’s critics are a projection of the push back he feels he’s unfairly faced. “You were one of the canaries in the coal mines,” Harris tells Murray. Having previously dismissed Murray, Harris now feels an affinity due to facing rebuke for racism (while continuing to espouse similar views).
The atheist movement has changed. Once the almost-exclusive domain of White men, calls for equality have challenged conversations, as diverse groups of women and minorities seek a more inclusive vision for atheism. It is telling that aggrieved White men feel more comfortable hosting uncritical discussions on scientific racism than engaging in anti-racism practices to reform the movement.