Interview: Many Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

Women of colour sit in a meting room. Above them is the title: Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

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.”

Continue reading Interview: Many Women Of Colour Feel Unsafe Working In Science

Event: Race and Dating, 26 April, Sydney

I’ll be on a panel in Sydney, on 26 April, talking about the sociology of race and dating!Details about the event from the promoter.

Conscious Dating – Race and Dating

Conscious Dating Co explores what it means to date consciously in a series of panels and workshops.

What influences attraction? Is racial bias affecting your dating life? How do you deal with being fetishised? And can we all expand our dating pool by mindfully inspecting our own racial biases?

Conscious Dating Co-founder Kaila Perusco will host a panel discussion with award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker and host of SBS’s Date My Race, Santilla Chingaipe; writer and equal rights advocate Andy Quan; and applied sociologist Dr Zuleyka Zevallos.

Join us for a fascinating insight into modern dating!

Get tickets.

Details
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
7:00pm 8:30pm
107 Redfern Street Redfern, NSW, 2016 Australia

Conscious Dating - Race and Dating

The Walking Dead: Gender, Race & Sexuality

Rosita and Tara from The Walking Dead

This article was first published on Medium, 2 April 2015

Warning: analysis and spoilers for Seasons 1 to 5.

Like millions of fans around the world, I love The Walking Dead, and I’m an avid horror aficionado. Yet after five seasons, with breathtaking plot twists and turns, The Walking Dead’s treatment of gender, race and sexuality remains stagnant. For a show that takes many liberties when asking the audience to suspend disbelief, there’s one area it has no trouble maintaining a familiar narrative: the dominance of White, heterosexual men.

Since it launched, the show has focused on relationships and character development. This proved a novel way to bring horror to popular TV. Anthropologist, Professor Juan Francisco Salazar and Dr Stephen Healy, a geographer, argue that Season Five “reflects on the meaning of group solidarity in a brave new world.” The researchers demonstrate how various social science readings of the show centre on social anxiety. In their view, this most recent season was concerned with “Rick’s communitarian family.” That is, the other characters on the show who have bound together supposedly through Rick’s leadership, even when there have been long periods (notably Season 3) when Rick provided little guidance.

The show invites its audience to consider their own bravery under zombie duress. Would we panic and leave sweet Noah stuck in a revolving door swarming with zombies? Would we become “weak” within the walls of Alexandria? Should this frustrating person or that annoying character be killed? The show does not encourage us to think about why the writers persist on upholding White men as leaders, and why White women, people of colour and other minorities are notably absent from the narrative landscape.

It’s no accident that the diplomatic and inclusive leadership of Deanna (a White woman), flawed as it may be, is presented as fundamentally irrational because of its inclusive ideals. Meanwhile, Rick, a White man, is presented as the only model for viable leadership in spite of his flaws.

Michonne looks at her sword as she runs moves it through the air
Michonne from The Walking Dead

Continue reading The Walking Dead: Gender, Race & Sexuality

Sociology for Diversity

Diversity has been an ongoing theme of my research, since I conducted my Honours and PhD theses and my subsequent research on migration, intercultural communication and how gender affects industrial practices. Lately I’ve been working on diversity issues in science and business. This includes how social science can be used to improve management of multicultural workplaces, and how gender diversity is important to the Internet. There is a lack of diversity in sociology that also needs attention. Our traditions still privilege the knowledge of White researchers from Europe and North America (more on this another time), but we also have a narrow academic vision of what it means to practice sociology. Similarly other sciences are structured around the skills and knowledge of White middle class men. Here’s an overview of my recent writing on these issues.

Sociology for Diversity
Sociology for Diversity

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Enhancing Community Development in Adelaide by Building on the Social Capital of South Australian Muslim Communities

Co-authored by Lauren Tolsma and Zuleyka Zevallos
This report was first published in 2009 by the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. I republish the summary and one of the findings chapter. The study can be read free and in its entirety via the link below.

Summary

This report provides a sociological analysis of the settlement and support services available to Muslim migrants living in the suburbs of Greater Adelaide, in the state of South Australia. In particular, we seek to learn how existing Muslim organisations address the collective needs of Muslim migrants in Adelaide. We present a critical analysis of the literature on community development with specific focus on the provision of services that aid economic development.

Broadly, we use the term ‘community development’ to refer to the process of organising, educating and encouraging the participation and collaboration of local residents and stakeholders in order to improve their collective outcomes and objectives. Stakeholders might include practitioners who work in the social welfare sector, community leaders, businesses and government agencies who work with Muslim communities. These stakeholders are able to provide funds, or exchange their skills, services, prestige or other forms of support in order to achieve social change. As a pilot case study of community development, we incorporate previously unpublished data on South Australian Muslim community organisations. This includes interviews with service providers, representatives and religious leaders, as well as field notes during visits to organisations and the public events that these groups hosted around Adelaide in 2008.

Our report considers different forms of social capital in relation to Muslim community development and service provision. Social capital refers to the norms, knowledge and status enacted by social actors through their participation in social networks in order to become more socially mobile, particularly by tapping into the resources and capacities of other groups who are better off. This concept is used to examine the power dynamics in negotiations of social and economic exchange among different Muslim organisations and other groups, including mainstream service providers and government officials.

Photo by Nur Alia Mazalan. Via Flickr. CC
Photo by Nur Alia Mazalan. Via Flickr. CC

Our study finds that many newly arrived Muslim migrants do not understand the breadth of government-sponsored services available to them, and so they largely rely on a couple of the smaller and widely trusted Muslim community organisations for all of their needs, rather than approaching mainstream organisations for specialised services. In this connection, because some Muslim organisations have stronger visibility among new arrivals, some groups are struggling to manage their members’ requirements, especially given their limited resources. Consequently, a small number of over-worked volunteers deliver targeted assistance for which they have no formal training or qualifications. This includes crisis counselling, occupational assistance and educational advice.

We suggest that an asset-based community development (ABCD) approach would strengthen the social network ties and resources both within and external to the Muslim organisations studied. The ABCD framework is an evaluation methodology which first identifies the social and material capacities that presently exist within particular organisations. This information is used to establish practical ways in which those resources might be used to enhance their service delivery. In order to mobilise the existing assets of Muslim organisations around South Australia, the report proposes the establishment of a South Australian Muslim Community Corporation (SAMCC) which would consist of Muslim community service providers, volunteers and their Muslim clients from around South Australia. We propose a number of recommendations regarding the SAMCC including:

  • Assisting equitable decision making among Muslim organisations via the SAMCC.
  • Rather than solely privileging religious leaders, the SAMCC is set up to encourage the inclusion of a broader range of Muslim ‘voices’ that would contribute to community development activities;
  • Recruiting a SAMCC media liaison to help disseminate important information via a multi-lingual, regularly updated Muslim community newsletter and website. This includes promoting non-Muslim participation in community events, focusing on secular activities, and making available a list of culturally sensitive, mainstream service providers to Muslim community groups;
  • Restructuring the existing grants scheme of community funding. This is with a view to supporting the long-term self-sustainability of a wider range of ‘grassroots’ Muslim community organisations;
  • Funding training and hiring professional staff. This would ease the burden of Muslim organisations that are widely used and trusted but currently overextended, while still allowing them to continue providing specialised services for Muslim migrants.

The idea of the SAMCC is to provide sustainability for the Muslim community groups currently in operation, by pooling together and taking better advantage of their existing resources. In this way, it complements the asset-based approach to community development, by mobilising existing social networks and the value that those networks have for ordinary Muslims living in South Australia.

The next section presents our findings from Chapter 5 of our report.

Continue reading Enhancing Community Development in Adelaide by Building on the Social Capital of South Australian Muslim Communities

“Because We Live in a Multicultural World”: Multiculturalism as a Lived Ideology

This article was first published in 2006 as part of the Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings

Introduction

Photo by DIAC Images on Flickr. CC.

This paper argues that Australian multiculturalism represents an ideology that migrants can draw upon in order to make sense of their everyday social experiences, their identities and their relationship to the nation.  Ideology is a widely contested concept and it has various meanings.  Generally, ideology refers to a normative set of beliefs that ‘tell us what we ought to do’ or how things should be, they are built upon central values and they have political value (Drucker 1974: 43).  A narrative of national identity which is based on multiculturalism could be seen in terms of dominant and contested ideologies.  For example, constructions of an Anglo-Celtic majority identity in Australian society could be seen as a dominant ideology, because such constructions maintain Anglo-Celtic hegemony despite our policies of multiculturalism (cf. de Lepervanche 1980; Hage 1998; Stratton 1998; Vasta 1996).  Alternatively, constructions of the nation based on cultural pluralism could be seen as competing, or contested, ideologies because they challenge Anglo-Celtic dominance.  Ideas are constructed by those in power as well as by less powerful people going about their everyday lives and so ideology can be challenged through social interaction and social discourses.

I am not looking at multicultural ideology in terms of dominant/competing ideologies, although I do discuss some hegemonic processes related to multiculturalism, such as the concept of race.  I am more interested in looking at the ideology Australian multiculturalism as a set of normative beliefs that argue Australian society should be organised around a principle of cultural plurality, and what this entails, from the point of view of the women that I interviewed for my research (for definitions of multiculturalism as an ideology see Lopez 2000: 3; Vasta 1993: 212).  I will also look at the benefits and costs that the ideology of multiculturalism has for my participants.  Looking at multiculturalism as ideology allows us to ask, why do some people believe what they do about multiculturalism?, or as Betts put it, ‘what’s in it for them?’ (1999: 30).  First, this paper describes the women’s constructions of Australian multiculturalism.  Second it investigates issues of identity.  Third, it discusses the impact of racist constructions of the Australian identity on the women’s sense of belonging to the nation.  I conclude with a discussion of Australian multiculturalism as a lived ideology in relation to the data generated by my research.

“It’s Like We’re Their Culture”: Second-Generation Migrant Women Discuss Australian Culture

This article was first published in 2005 by People and Place.

Abstract

Young women of Latin and Turkish origin living in Melbourne find it hard to see any Australian culture. Some see a vacuum; others see a bland milieu populated with ‘average-looking’ people. In contrast, they feel that their own migrant cultures are strong. They ‘get through more’. If there is any Australian culture it is, in their opinion, losing ground to migrant cultures.

Introduction

Academic and public debates about Australian culture are often centred on the tensions between ‘traditional Australian’[1] and multicultural ideas about national identity. This paper considers Australian culture as described by 50 second-generation migrant-Australian women aged 17 to 28 years.

A second-generation migrant is defined in Australian Census statistics as a person with at least one parent who was born overseas.[2-3] My sample includes both types of second-generation migrants. All 50 women were Australian citizens. Thirty women were Australian-born and the 20 women who were born overseas arrived between the ages of six months and 10 years (average age of arrival was six and all women had spent at least half of their lives living in Australia).

The social experiences of second-generation migrants are pivotal to understanding issues of multiculturalism because such migrants negotiate multiple ideas of cultural identity in their everyday lives, both from their families’ countries-of-origin and mainstream Australia. Melissa Butcher and Mandy Thomas argue that, ‘The relationship between migration heritage and the wider form of Australian society is the crucible of second generation identity formation’.[4] The data presented are drawn from a larger qualitative study about the intersections of ethnicity, gender, sexuality and nationality for 25 women from South and Central (or ‘Latin’) American backgrounds and 25 women from Turkish backgrounds. This paper draws from one aspect of the broader research study:What are the women’s attitudes towards their family’s country-of-origin culture and Australian culture?
Continue reading “It’s Like We’re Their Culture”: Second-Generation Migrant Women Discuss Australian Culture

Introduction: Community/Identity: Latin Americans in Australia

This article was first published in 2005. It is the introduction to a special edition of the Journal of Iberian And Latin American Research.*

Abstract

This special section of JILAS is dedicated to the dual issues of community and identity and their impact on Latin Americans in Australia.  Academic research on Latin American migrants in Australia is scarce.  This special section of JILAS will shed light on this important, yet relatively neglected, aspect of Latin American scholarship.  Issues related to migration are quintessential in exploring the historical, cultural and political intersections of Latin American studies on a global scale.  The Australian multicultural context provides a fascinating social milieu to investigate such intersections.

The following six articles critically examine what it means to ‘be Latin’ in the Australian context and the authors reflect upon the political and social influences related to the creation of Latin community identities in Australia.  More specifically, the articles share two common themes: first, the understandings of community and the celebration of community by Latin migrants; and second, the influences of multiculturalism on the formation of Latin identities in Australia.  While the authors come from diverse academic backgrounds, their work is complementary due to their methodological approaches.  The articles are based on qualitative research studies into specific Latin groups from around Australia. 

“Todos Somos Latinos”: Ethnic Identity Constructions of Second Generation Latin-Australian Women

This paper was first published in 2005 by the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research.

Abstract

The concept of a ‘pan-ethnic’ Latin identity is theoretically problematic, but its social significance is worthy of empirical attention. This paper presents a sociological analysis of the social construction of a pan-ethnic Latin identity using data from qualitative interviews with 25 young second generation women of South and Central American backgrounds living in Australia. This paper focuses on the way these women discussed the value of family in pan-ethnic Latin culture, their ideas about a pan-ethnic Latin ‘persona’, and the way they diminished differences between individual country-of-origin Latin groups in Australia, while emphasising their collective differences to ‘Australians’. Throughout their interviews, the women used the term ‘Australian’ to mean ‘Anglo-Australian’ (or, in their words, an ‘Anglo’ or ‘white Australian’), and I often had to clarify this with them when they spoke. In this paper, wherever the participants make reference to ‘Australians’ and ‘Australian culture’ the reader should be aware that the participants are referring to Anglo-Australians.

Continue reading “Todos Somos Latinos”: Ethnic Identity Constructions of Second Generation Latin-Australian Women

Where Are “Wogs” From? Exploring Subjective Understandings of Racism

Where are wogs from? Exploring subjective understandings of racism

This article was first published in 2004 as part of the refereed proceedings of The Australian Sociological Association Conference.

Abstract

This paper examines subjective understandings of racism expressed by fifty second generation migrant-Australian women. Twenty-five participants came from Turkish backgrounds and 25 participants came from Latin American backgrounds.  The paper focuses on three examples of everyday social interaction and considers how these examples might be connected with racist practices. The three examples include the question ‘where are you from?’, the ‘wog’ identity, and the women’s ideas about racism in Australian society.

The women believed that racism was a product of a minority of individuals who did not adhere to Australia’s multicultural spirit. This paper argues that the taken-for-granted assumptions informing the women’s everyday social interaction are better understood in terms of ‘everyday racism’ rather than as ‘individual racism’. The women’s subjective understanding of racism at an individual level prevented them from recognising racism as a social problem that might exist within Australian society.

Continue reading Where Are “Wogs” From? Exploring Subjective Understandings of Racism

“I’m Not Your Typical Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Skippy”*: Second Generation Australians and Multiculturalism

 

This chapter was first published in 2003 by Peter Lang. It is part of an edited book, Social Exclusion: An Approach to the Australian Case.

Abstract

This chapter explores the experiences and identities of second generation migrants in the context of multicultural policy. It first provides a profile of second generation Australians and their origins. It then addresses the changing policy context, and the extent to which policy has influenced popular understandings of national identity. Next the chapter considers the social mobility of second generation Australians, focusing upon educational and occupational outcomes; their marriage and family practices, highlighting issues of cultural integration; and their sense of identity and belonging. In exploring identity and belonging, the chapter considers qualitative research concerning diverse second generation groups of non-English speaking background. Finally, the chapter considers the meaning of multiculturalism for second generation Australians, its limitations and strengths.

Continue reading “I’m Not Your Typical Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Skippy”*: Second Generation Australians and Multiculturalism