The Philosophists

Ep 8 - The Challenges Women Researchers Face - Part 1 (with Mohammad Hosseini and Shiva Sharifzad)

February 28, 2023 The Philosophists | Declan McGrath, with special guests Mohammad Hosseini and Shiva Sharifzad Season 1 Episode 8
The Philosophists
Ep 8 - The Challenges Women Researchers Face - Part 1 (with Mohammad Hosseini and Shiva Sharifzad)
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Research in academia is a wonderful intellectual pursuit, but are the fruits of that pursuit equally available to all? What if you are a woman? Do you have the same opportunities and outcomes as your other colleagues? In this episode, we talk to Mohammad Hosseini and Shiva Sharifzad, authors of Gender disparity in publication records: a qualitative study of women researchers in computing and engineering (linked below), a highly illuminating paper interested in the answers to these questions. This research was carried out at Dublin City University (DCU) in Ireland and found that, during a 5 year window, "women researchers had fewer publications, received fewer citations per person, and participated less often in international collaborations". Their paper offers a fascinating insight into some of the underlying challenges that contributed to this - and contains more than a few surprises. If you care about understanding and redressing the challenges that women in research face, which has implications for society more broadly, then listen in on this important conversation.

This episode supports a "Chapters" feature, which is available in the web player and many podcast apps.

About Mohammad Hosseini (Full Bio)
Born in Tehran (Iran), Mohammad acquired a B.A. in Business Management and an M.A. in Applied Ethics in the Netherlands (2009-2016). Fascinated by the ethics of scholarly authorship and publication issues, he completed a PhD in Research Ethics and Integrity in Ireland (2017-2021). He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago. Mohammad's professional goal is to cultivate fair and inclusive working cultures and improve the ethics and integrity of research.

About Shiva Sharifzad (@Shiva_Sharifz)
Shiva Sharifzad is a Gender and Gender-Based Violence Analyst. She has a Bachelor in Law and an LLM in Human Rights Law from Iran, and an MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law from Geneva.  Originally from Tehran (Iran), now she is based in Geneva (Switzerland) working with the UN, and other International Organizations.

Main Talking Points

  • The barriers women face when publishing
  • Citation quality and its importance
  • The fight for the authorship byline
  • The Women in Leadership plan at DCU
  • The burden that gender balance policies can impose
  • Initiatives to help those taking and returning from maternity leave
  • The need for more men to be involved in gender-related research
  • The vast majority of our discussion is on the research itself, though we do relate some of the work in the paper to the ideas of Simone De Beauvoir

Links To The Paper and Related Work

Other Links

  • Simone de Beauvoir and The Second Sex  - We mention De Beauvoir's work describing woman as an "other" in relation to man. The opening paragraph of this article by Nasrullah Mambrol provides an excellent overview of this topic

Show Info, Contact Details & Credits

About Mohammad Hosseini and Shiva Sharifzad
The challenges facing women when publishing papers and how Mohammad and Shiva's paper came to be
Citation quality and why it's important to someone working in academia
Comparing citation metrics - how citations rates differ across academic disciplines
The difference between being a first named author and a subsequent author
Irish governmental policies and EU directives to encourage greater participation of women in science
The burden that gender balance policies can place on those they are designed to help
Simone de Beauvoir and the difficulty of viewing women as a single unified group
How the 'othering' of women can manifest - social factors, nationality and social class
Misperceptions about returning to work after pregnancy
Initiatives to help those availing of maternity leave, such as the extension of funding deadlines
Different treatment - the seemingly hidden workload that can hinder women in academia
The advantages of autonomy, project picking and funding clout that some researchers may enjoy whilst others may not
Using positions of employment privilege to help those lower down the ladder equitably
The need for more men to be involving researching how to improve the research publication opportunities and outcomes for women