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Nobel Prize should be just the start of making women scientists more visible

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Darren Baker/Shutterstock

Shelley Thompson, Bournemouth University

Until this year, only 19 women had won a Nobel Prize for science – just 3% of the total winners. But the Nobel Committee’s decision to recognise Donna Strickland and Frances Arnold, respectively, with the 2018 chemistry and physics prizes, suggests this imbalance is finally being addressed.

The Nobel recognises outstanding contributions to humankind, so it should go without saying that the outstanding women working in the fields of science and medicine should be recognised for their contributions. And there are many who deserve to be seen through awards and media representations. But perhaps more importantly, the image we see of women in science from things like the Nobel Prizes can make a difference to what happens within the field.

Women laureates are grossly underrepresented in all of the Nobel Prize categories, especially when you consider their participation in these areas today. Globally, women still represent less than a third of the science workforce, but that’s far more than the 3% recognised by the Nobels.

Even in the last few years, as more women have entered scientific fields, they have been notably absent among Nobel prize winners. The last woman to win the chemistry prize was Ada Yonath in 2009. And before Donna Strickland there hadn’t been a female physics laureate since Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963. The Nobel Committee has said it is taking steps to improve its record on women but that it would likely be five to ten years before we see a significant change in distribution.

The reality is that women are still under- and misrepresented in almost every facet of science. The numbers start with a lower proportion of female science students at secondary level and gradually decline at every stage of education and leadership. For example, women are underrepresented as first authors of scientific research papers and their papers are much less likely to be cited by others. By the time it gets to candidates for the Nobel Prize, there are very few women left to choose from.

You can add to that the persistence of outdated ideas around gender differences within science. Just recently, a CERN professor was suspended for sexist comments linked to debunked science made to a room full of women scientists. In many ways, it made Strickland’s winning of the physics Nobel all the more sweet but demonstrates the lingering mischaracterisation of women in science both inside and outside of the profession.

Representation matters

With all this mind, it’s important to remember that media representation matters. It gives women and girls opportunities to literally see themselves, in this case, as scientists. We know from research that female role models can make a difference to women’s decisions about whether or not to start a scientific career. And more generally, media representations help us to understand ourselves and others. So, if images of successful women are missing from the picture girls and women have of science through the media, it can limit the extent to which they will see themselves as scientists.

We need to normalise the representation of all women in science. More women winning the Nobel Prize, and more news articles celebrating those women’s achievements, are just the start. Changing how women scientists are seen can also be achieved through film and television representations, news articles, Wikipedia entries and so on.

Globally, for example, women made up only 19% of experts appearing in television, radio and print news reports. When women scientists are made less visible in this way, they are, in the words of feminist thinker Gaye Tuchman, “symbolically annihilated”. In other words, they are effectively omitted, trivialised and condemned by the mass media.

Women scientists are moving to the centre.
Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

While there are many examples of women scientists in film and television, they’re now starting to appear more often as lead characters rather than as sidekicks to men – for example, Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone in Gravity. Recent films such as Hidden Figures and the reboot of Ghostbusters have made the female leads’ role as scientists a key focus and driver of the storylines. This kind of change is important for moving women scientists from, as feminist critic bell hooks puts it, the “margins to the centre”.

Even the number and content of Wikipedia entries about women scientists is important, as the crowd-edited encyclopedia helps document what society values and exposes people to cultural heritage. But research shows that Wikipedia has a poor record on gender equality in terms of including women’s biographies.

This was highlighted when it emerged that, before her Nobel win, Strickland’s contributions to science had been deemed not significant enough to warrant her own Wikipedia page. Such examples underline the importance of efforts like those of Jessica Wade to increase the number of Wikipedia entries about women scientists’ contributions.

Changing all these media representations together can help more people to see women as scientists and to value the contributions that they make. This will empower women scientists today and inspire more girls to join the next generation. Perhaps then, a Nobel Prize winner being female won’t be such big news and the focus will be on their science rather than their gender.The Conversation

Shelley Thompson, Head of School of Journalism, English & Communication, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Congratulations to Dr Terri Cole for receiving this year’s BPS Textbook Award

Dr Terri Cole’s co-written book Forensic Psychology: Theory, Research, Policy and Practice (2015), with Jennifer Brown (London School of Economics) and Yvonne Shell, has won the British Psychological Society Book Award 2018 in the Textbook category. The Society’s Book Award recognises excellent published work in psychology and recipients will be presented with a commemorative certificate at the Society’s Annual Conference.

The book was nominated by her publishing company, SAGE: “It is such an honour and I’m absolutely over the moon to have even been nominated for the Awards”, says Dr Cole. “It is a subject all of us have spent our careers working in and we are all very passionate with a variety of experience.”

Image result for Forensic Psychology: Theory, Research, Policy and Practice by Brown, Shell and Cole (2015)

Forensic Psychology: Theory, Research, Policy and Practice (2015) is primarily targeted towards Masters students studying Forensic Psychology, as well as practitioners and those already qualified who need to keep up with the CPD (Continuing Professional Development). It is also a useful companion to professionals in allied criminal justice professions.

Students of Forensic Psychology need to learn how to combine practical skills such as report writing or assessments with a critical understanding of both theory and the wider political and policy landscape that surrounds the profession, and Dr Cole’s book will help them to understand how these crucial areas of the profession interact and how they can shape one another.

The text provides a detailed analysis of key concepts, debates and theories while weaving in insights and reflections from key professionals working in practice from all fields amidst the text, ensuring readers have the necessary knowledge and skills to pass assignments and get past the stage 2 supervised practice requirements en-route to becoming a qualified forensic psychologist.

“Rather than just summarising the theory, we have incorporated ours and others’ practical experiences and lessons learnt adding a human element and discussing wider points from the political framework in which our work is based, to the personal toll of working in such a domain,” says Dr Cole.

Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of the British Psychological Society, says: “I congratulate all the award winners whose varied expertise emphasise the depth and diversity of psychology. The fact that we were able to recognise three such distinguished and appealing books shows that psychology publishing is in good health. What shines through in each of these books is a relentless focus on good science and an insistence on following the evidence.”

For more information on this book, contact Dr Terri Cole here.

Congratulations on timely editorial in Nepal

Congratulations to FHSS academics Dr. Pramod Regmi and Dr. Nirmal Ayral who published an editorial yesterday in a scientific journal in Nepal.  The paper ‘Experts warn Nepal Government not to reduce local Public Health spending’ [1] was co-authored by Dr. Bibha Simkhada who has just been offered a post as Lecturer in Nursing in the Department of Nursing & Clinical Sciences, she shall be starting with us on November 1st.  Further co-authors include FHSS Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada and Dr . Sujan Marahatta, the journal’s editor.  He is based at Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences (MMIHS) in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Bournemouth University has a long-standing research collaboration with MMIHS.

The editorial warns about the risks of losing the focus on public health and its wider national and global perspective in the recently changed political arena of Nepal.  Since 2015 Nepal has moved from a central state to a federal republic, whereby the seven new Provinces have gained much more power and control in the decentralisation process.  Moreover the first local elections for two decades in 2017 meant a lot of new and inexperienced local politicians were voted in.  Many of these local people had little prior experience of political processes, governing health systems, the notion of priority setting, running sub-committees of elected representatives, political decision-making at local level, etc.  The paper argues that Public Health can easily disappear of the radar.  The untrained newly elected representatives with no political experience are most likely to be drawn into proposing and supporting popular measures including developing new buildings, black-top roads, hospitals, etc., rather than measures that increase the local or regional budget for teachers, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for community health workers, and preventative public health measures in general.  Buildings and roads are immediate demonstration to voters that politicians have done something useful, reducing maternal mortality by 2.6% or employing two additional health workers doesn’t give politicians neither the same publicity, nor do such policies have immediate signs of success, and hence are unlikely to be vote winners.

The Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences is part of the Open Access publishing of Nepal Journals OnLine (NepJOL) supported by INASP.  The editorial also illustrates the kind of work conducted in Bournemouth University’s Integrative Wellbeing Research Centre (iWell).

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

 

Reference:

Simkhada, P., Teijlingen van, E., Simkhada, B., Regmi, P., Aryal, N., Marahatta, S.B. (2018) Experts warn Nepal Government not to reduce local Public Health spending, Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, 4(1): 1-3.

New BU publication on maternity care and culture in Afghanistan

Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Arnold on the acceptance by Social Science & Medicine (published by Elsevier) of the second paper based on her PhD on maternity care in Afghanistan [1].  This interesting ethnography explores the experiences, motivations and constraints of healthcare providers in a large public Afghan maternity hospital. Arnold and colleagues identify barriers and facilitators in the delivery of care. Under the surface of this maternity hospital, social norms were in conflict with the principles of biomedicine. Contested areas included the control of knowledge, equity and the primary goal of work. The institutional culture was further complicated by pressure from powerful elites. These unseen values and pressures explain much of the disconnection between policy and implementation, education and the everyday behaviours of healthcare providers.

Improving the quality of care and equity in Afghan public maternity hospitals will require political will from all stakeholders to acknowledge these issues and find culturally attuned ways to address them.  The authors argue that this notion of parallel and competing world-views on healthcare has relevance beyond Afghanistan.   The paper co-authored by (a) Prof. Kath Ryan, Professor of Social Pharmacy at the University of Reading and Visiting Professor in FHSS, and BU’s Professors Immy Holloway and Edwin van Teijlingen.

 

References:

  1. Arnold, R., van Teijlingen, E., Ryan, K., Holloway, I. (2018) Parallel worlds: An ethnography of care in an Afghan maternity hospital, Social Science & Medicine [online first] doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.09.010.

 

Dr Paul Whittington attends Life Beyond the PhD 2018 Conference

Dr Paul Whittington pictured front far left

Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cumberland Lodge – an educational charity which tackles social divisions by promoting creative thinking and inclusive dialogue – held its 11th annual ‘Life Beyond the PhD’ conference.

Held over 5 days, the conference brought together PhD students and early career researchers for thought-provoking workshops, presentations and activities which explored the value of doctoral research both inside and outside of academia. Underpinning each of the activities was the Cumberland Lodge’s ethos of inclusivity, and insightful, interdisciplinary discussion.

Dr Paul Whittington, who completed his PhD in 2017 in the Faculty of Science & Technology, attended and benefitted greatly from presentations which included a variety of topics: Research Culture in the UK, Self-Leadership for Researchers, Techniques for Impact through speaking and writing, Public Engagement and Writing Interdisciplinary Research Proposals. These were presented by a variety of academics from institutions, including The University of Cambridge, Guardian Higher Education Network, Government Equalities Office and the University of London.

Paul also had the opportunity to collaborate with PhD students from around the country and to discuss and present his research to other delegates. On one day, he participated in an interdisciplinary team project which involved producing and presenting a research proposal tackling some form of social exclusion to a panel followed by a Q&A session. Paul presented a slide and subsequently his team won the challenge and received the “funding” – a box of chocolates that was then shared amongst the other teams.

Paul said: “Thank you very much to the Doctoral College for providing me with the opportunity to attend the Life Beyond the PhD Conference at Cumberland Lodge. It was very valuable to me and greatly appreciated.”

BU research is featured by the Times

We, Elvira Bolat and Parisa Gilani, are quite pleased to see the article, published by the Conversation on 7th August, quickly picked up by Mark Bridge, technology correspondent of the Times. Article titled “It’s depressing to be slightly influential on social media” was published both in online and paper versions of the major national newspaper on 9th August.

Dr Parisa Gilani was interviewed prior to the publication and addressed all questions of the correspondent. It is critical to highlight that the research itself is based on BU’s BA (Hons) Business Studies with Marketing final year student Claudia Wilkin’s research project. Although the CEL-funded co-creation project focused on understanding what makes social media influencers successful businesspeople, one of the finding was quite fascinating and contributing to literature around FOMO, cyberbullying and leader-followers relationships.

As Mark Bridge noted, there is a need for responsible behaviour and actions within online space and as most of us consume content online, we need to be much more thoughtful on how we express our reactions to various types of content.

Read full article online via: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/it-s-depressing-to-be-slightly-influential-on-social-media-xf75sztff 

Photo of the Week: Understanding Digital Immersion within Streaming and E-Sports

Digital Tethering: Understanding Digital Immersion within Streaming and E-Sports

Our Photo of the Week series features photo entries from our annual Research Photography Competition taken by BU academics, students and professional staff, which gives a glimpse into some of the fantastic research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week is by Charlie Simmons, a final year undergraduate student on a BA (Hons) Business Studies with Marketing programme. This project was co-created with Dr Elvira Bolat, Senior Lecturer in Marketing in the Faculty of Management, and won a prize for the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) co-creation awards. Charlie’s work is around digital tethering, particularly in understanding digital immersion.

Immersion is used outside of digital space as a term to measure the degree of involvement in a specific activity. Digital immersion is now a ubiquitous phenomenon that can be observed in all human activities starting with consumption of services and products as well as professional tasks. Overall academic literature, in particular business and management literature, lacks understanding of digital immersion, perhaps due to methodological challenges associated with researching this area. Using the context of e-sport, this research study revealed that in the context of digital connectivity immersion is not only a feeling but a state of mind; it causes behavioural changes in its e-sport players and keeps them habitually absorbed. At the heart of digital immersion are people, streamers (influencers) and community whom have the power to manipulate individuals’ behaviour.

At the heart of digital immersion is community; the more an individual is experiencing community and feels part of that community, the more likely they are to be immersed in the digital environment. Entertainment within content is also irrelevant to the digital immersion, which is contrary to existing research. Content allows users to escape from reality and forget about real world problems, and learning in combination with community factors found to have a strong and positive impact on digital immersion. Findings of this research have implications beyond its contextual focus, e-sports. Businesses can utilise learning, escape and community effects to improve online presence and stimulate much more meaningful engagement with a digital content.

For more information about this research, please contact Dr Elvira Bolat here.

Digital Me is an online collection of research publications/narratives within the domain of digital, written by BU academics and students. This research covers various disciplines, i.e. management and marketing, health and social science, computing and media, education and more; and spreads through various topics, i.e. digital consumption, digital business, education and digital and more. Find out more here.

How farms can help improve the lives of disadvantaged young people

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A visiting farmer tends the animals. Future Roots, Author provided

By Dr Sarah Hambidge (Post-Doctoral Researcher), Bournemouth University.

A couple of years ago, I met Adam (not his real name) at a farm in Dorset. Adam was 14 and had been excluded from mainstream education due to behavioural difficulties and a disruptive home life. He had consequently become involved in regular underage drinking and antisocial behaviour. Adam was being exploited and groomed as a drug runner for a London drug gang infiltrating rural areas. He told me that he had been given a knife by gang members and encouraged to use it to protect himself if necessary against rival gangs or local drug dealers.

The farm where I met him is not a normal farm, but a social one, where the therapeutic use of farming practices and animal assisted therapy is used to provide health, social and educational care services for disadvantaged young people that have become disengaged with mainstream education. Stories such as Adam’s are growing increasingly familiar to staff at the farm he attended, who see other vulnerable young people referred to their service.

Learning new skills. Sarah Hambidge

Many of the young people living in rural Britain who are being exploited by these gangs are, like Adam, those who are disengaged with mainstream education and are at risk of becoming, or currently are, NEET (not in education, employment or training). There are 808,000 young people (aged 16-24) in the UK who are NEET.

Being NEET has a long-term impact on a young person’s life, leaving them vulnerable to substance misuse, offending behaviour, physical and mental health problems, academic underachievement and reduced employment. These young people are subsequently regarded as a concern to the police, health, education and social care professionals.

Yet current interventions are failing to reduce the number of young people becoming NEET. These interventions typically focus on providing the young person with vocational education, despite the fact that the most common vocational qualifications in the UK have very little or no relevance to the labour market.

Interventions that offer a restorative approach, with therapeutic support and a focus on learning, however, are acknowledged to be more successful.

Farm animal therapy. Sarah Hambridge

A green future

Earlier this year, the government launched a 25-year environment plan. The plan acknowledged the importance of connecting children and young people to nature through learning, as well as the benefits of a physical, hands-on experience as a pathway to good health and well-being. The government has pledged £10m to support local strategies which use the natural environment and has further committed to a national expansion of social farming by 2022. This will treble the number of available places to 1.3m per year for children and adults in England.

On social farms, health, social or specialist educational care services for vulnerable people are delivered through structured programmes of farming-related activities. Social farming is established in numerous European countries. Norway currently operates 1,100 social farms, compared to 240 in the UK.

Taking a break on the farm. Sarah Hambidge

Young people participate in a variety of seasonal farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management. Social farming has been found to have a positive impact on physical and mental health along with the opportunity to develop transferable skills, personal development, social inclusion and rehabilitation.

Social farming

When I met Adam, I was in the midst of a research project evaluating whether a year-long farming intervention can prevent disengaged young people from low-socioeconomic backgrounds becoming NEET. Participants typically attend a four-hour session once a week at the farm.

Future roots, the farm I researched, employs a mix of teachers, youth and social workers and therapists. It offers a different model of learning for those struggling in mainstream education. My research demonstrated that the use of the natural environment as a mechanism for change was effective in reducing the risk of becoming NEET.

The young people learn to care for a variety of animals. Sarah Hambidge

The young people I followed displayed a significant reduction in self-reported mental health risks and behavioural regulation difficulties; improved social relationships and coping; improved life and work skills; and re-engagement with learning. All of the young people were in employment or training six months after their time at the social farm finished.

Indeed, the social farm was the only place where Adam said he felt safe. He was able to develop a sense of belonging and trust which enabled him to talk about the difficulties he was experiencing in his life. Without the social farm intervention, staff said that Adam would likely have proceeded to harm himself or others. The farmer refers to the changes seen in the young people as a “chrysalis butterfly effect”: the positive transformation seen in these young people as they turn their lives around to look to the future are truly inspiring.


Dr Sarah Hambidge, Postdoctoral Researcher, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Photo of the Week: Welcome to BU from China!

Welcome to BU from China! From the beginning to the end of your studies at BU, let’s focus on the middle bit and the all-important ‘sandwich placement’!

Our Photo of the Week series features photo entries from our annual Research Photography Competition taken by BU academics, students and professional staff, which gives a glimpse into some of the fantastic research undertaken across the BU community.

This week’s photo of the week is a selfie taken by Vianna Renaud (Placement Development Advisor and Postgraduate Researcher, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice) with our Chinese students from Beijing Normal University Zhuhai (BNUZ). BU works closely with BNUZ to give students on a number of undergraduate courses the opportunity to complete their studies with us. In an increasingly global business environment, having the opportunity to study in an international community of academics and students is invaluable in helping to develop global perspective and gain a better understanding of how business is conducted across borders and elsewhere in the world.

With the idea of attending Bournemouth University planted in the minds of Chinese students who have attended the Global Festival of Learning on their home campus, the dream becomes a reality when they find themselves in the UK a few months later. Along with having to adjust to the British higher education system, they must begin looking for a sandwich placement suitable for their academic course which can be a challenging time for them.

Vianna is currently trialling a pilot project where she regularly engages with our BNUZ students on a monthly basis and will research to what degree an impact has been made from this intervention, which will include having coaching conversations, using the GROW Model & informational handouts signposting BU services, as well as encouraging the students to engage in peer-to-peer learning in their preparation for placement year.

“By building upon the relationship BU currently has with BNUZ, combined with the feedback from these students, I am confident we can build our own innovative approach to best support those students that choose BU,” says Vianna.

For more information about this research, please contact Vianna Renaud here.

Remembering Srebrenica, more than 20 years on

EPA/Jasmin Brutus

By Dr Melanie Klinkner, Bournemouth University and Giulia Levi, Bournemouth University.

One of the darkest hours in recent human history, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, has plenty of unpleasant parallels in today’s world, from Syria to Myanmar. 23 years after the massacre in and around the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, remembrance of what has been described as “scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history” is as important as ever.

The events in and around Srebrenica between July 10-19 1995 are well known. In those few days, an estimated 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces. Efforts to find, recover, identify and repatriate the victims’ remains are ongoing – and the task is a hugely complex one.

Every year at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre and Cemetery, more victims are laid to rest. This year, 35 people have been identified and will be buried. Of the 430 Srebrenica-related sites where human remains have been recovered, 94 are graves and 336 are surface sites with human remains scattered on the ground. Pathologists and anthropologists examined more than 17,000 sets of human remains related to Srebrenica, resulting in around 7,000 identifications, most of them via DNA. To gather enough DNA to make those identifications, more than 20,000 DNA samples had to be collected.

Slow justice

It was only in autumn 2017 that Ratko Mladić, a former general of the Bosnian Serb forces, was convicted of the crimes that took place in Srebrenica – genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer. Mladić is one of relatively few defendants to have appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged with genocide.

This is because for a conviction on the grounds of genocide, the prosecution has to prove a catalogue of things. To be convicted of the crime of genocide, the accused must have deliberately intended “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”. Punishable under Article 4(3) of the ICTY Statute are also conspiracy to commit genocide, incitement to commit genocide, attempts to commit genocide and complicity in genocide. Two things have to be proven: the actus reus (the actual killings, serious bodily or mental harm and deliberate infliction of conditions designed to bring about the destruction of the group) and the mens rea (the specific intent to destroy the group).

Mladić’s 2017 conviction did not bring an end to all aspects of his case. In March 2018, both the defence and prosecution filed their notices of appeal. Though not in relation to Srebrenica, the prosecution submits that the trial chamber erred in two of its findings: first, that Bosnian Muslims in the areas of Foča, Kotor Varoš, Prijedor, Sanski Most and Vlasenica did not constitute a substantial part of the Bosnian Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and second, that Mladić (and others) did not intend to destroy those Bosnian Muslims. As a result, the proceedings are ongoing.

Bosnian Muslims carry coffins with remains of Srebrenica victims, 2017. EPA/Jasmin Brutus

During the 530 days of Mladić’s original trial, 377 witnesses appeared in court, some of them victims of war crimes. Victims often have many needs: to tell their stories, to contribute to public knowledge and accountability, to publicly denounce the wrongs that were committed against them and others, to bear witness on behalf of those who did not survive, and to receive reparations, public acknowledgement or apologies. They may wish to confront the accused, to find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones, to contribute to peace goals or to help prevent the perpetration of further abuse. Many risk their own personal safety to tell their stories, or those of victims who did not survive.

And yet, a recent report by international NGO Impunity Watch paints a bleak picture stating that “Western Balkan states have done very poorly when it comes to victim participation in [transitional justice] processes. Victims’ voices are marginalised and their rightful claims have been politicised by the different sides.”

Remembrance and responsibility

Impunity Watch describes a continuing “battleground of conflicting narratives, in which each side claims victimhood and blames the other for past abuses”. This does not bode well for the future.

The divisions in Bosnia are hard to ignore; Srebrenica’s Serb mayor, Mladen Grujičić, denies that the genocide occurred, as does Milorad Dodik the leader of Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska. Many Serbian nationalists regard Mladić as a war hero. To many people, his conviction would therefore be effectively meaningless.

And yet, plenty of civil society activities, interventions and educational programmes have been devised. In Bosnia, Youth United in Peace and Youth Initiative for Human Rights, to name but two, offer young people the chance to hear different perspectives about the past through workshops and visits to commemorative places of all sides. Such projects try to counter ethnic segregation to offer shared space for dialogue.

In a speech to the United Nations in 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt famously said:

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.

Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

All too often this is forgotten. But with stark societal divisions palpable in many parts of the world, we have to keep reminding ourselves that all others are above all else human beings. Only if we do that will the idea of human rights be meaningful.


Dr Melanie Klinkner, Principal Academic in International Law, Bournemouth University and Giulia Levi, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Lunchbite Session Tuesday 5th June: Examining & Chairing Research Degree Viva Voce Examinations

 

This one hour lunchbite session is aimed at all academic staff who are new to, or experienced at, supervising research degree students and are interested in expanding their knowledge of a specific aspect or process in doctoral supervision.

Lunch and refreshments provided.

 

Tuesday 5th June 2018

12.00  – 13.00

Talbot Campus

Examining & Chairing Research Degree Viva Voce Examinations

 

Click here for further details and to book your place

through Organisational Development

 

This session will be led by a senior academic who will introduce the topic, and staff will be free to participate in discussions aimed at sharing best practice from across BU. It will be focused on expanding knowledge on the processes and responsibilities involved in examining & chairing research degree viva voce examinations.

 

Bookings can also be made for upcoming sessions covering different aspects of research degree supervision including:

These sessions will run again at intervals in the next academic year.

 

Photo of the Week: All My Meeples

All My Meeples

Our next Photo of the Week is Alexandra Alberda‘s photo of her drawing of  people engaging with Graphic Medicine comics at a museum exhibition. This weekly series features photo entries taken by our academics, students and professional staff for our annual Research Photography Competition, which gives a glimpse into some of the fantastic research undertaken across the BU community.

Alexandra’s work takes Medical Humanities and Graphic Medicine into non-clinical and public settings where health related works are being engaged with presently. Her research furthers Medical Humanities’ engagement with public perceptions of health by expanding the critical vocabulary available to scholars through Comics Studies and curatorial practice. The space of the museum holds a social identity as upholding and defining culture and has a history of exhibiting works that relate to healthcare and the “ill” other/body. How do these bodies and the experiences they illustrate reach our own interpretations of illness, flesh bodies, and lived experiences? Alexandra’s PhD research focuses on these experiences as they are tied to exhibitions and museums, which creates three groups of ‘people’ to the research.

The first group (green) are the people that exist in the museum: viewers, artists, curators, and other museum staff. The second group (pink) are the people represented in the exhibition artwork: both fictional and non-fiction characters in the case of memoirs. Her research focuses on the relationships and engagement that happens between the first and second groups. The third group (orange) involves the relationships between my supervisors, and their expertise, and Alexandra. These relationships will translate into her professional practices and research skills.

Alexandra Alberda is a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. Her supervisors are Dr. Sam Goodman, Dr. Julia Round and Professor Michael Wilmore. She received her MA in Art History minoring in Sculptural Painting/Studio Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and BA in English and Art minoring in Honours, Art History and Writing at Briar Cliff University.

Find out more about the role that comics can play in the study and delivery of healthcare on the Graphic Medicine website here.

@ZandraAlberda

Autism screening tool may not pick up women with the condition

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Nikodash/Shutterstock.com

By Rachel Moseley, Bournemouth University and Julie Kirkby, Bournemouth University

Diagnosing autism is expensive and time consuming, so a screening tool is used to filter out those people who are unlikely to be diagnosed as autistic. This is all well and good, but our latest research suggests that a widely used screening tool may be biased towards diagnosing more men than women.

Earlier studies have cast doubt on the ability of one of the leading screening tools, called Autism-Spectrum Quotient, to accurately identify people with autism. Our study decided to look at another screening tool that hasn’t yet been investigated: the Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised (RAADS-R), a widely used questionnaire for assessing autism in adults with average or above average intelligence.

We compiled the RAADS-R scores of over 200 people who had a formal diagnosis of autism. We compared scores between autistic men and autistic women on four different symptom areas: difficulties with social relationships, difficulties with language, unusual sensory experiences or motor problems, and “circumscribed interests” (a tendency to have very strong, fixed interests).

As there are known sex differences in these areas – for example, with women being better at hiding social and communicative difficulties, and men being more likely to show obvious, and hence easier to detect, circumscribed interests – we wanted to know whether RAADS-R was able to pick up these differences.




Read more:
Changing the face of autism: here come the girls


Our analysis showed that it didn’t: we found no sex differences in RAADS-R scores between autistic men and women in social relatedness, language and circumscribed interests.

A possible explanation for this result is that, since RAADS-R depends on people accurately judging and reporting their own symptoms, sex differences may only emerge when behaviour is diagnosed by an experienced clinician. Previous studies have shown that autistic people often lack insight into their own behaviour and find it difficult to report their own symptoms.

Another likely reason for finding no sex difference in autism traits is that this and most other studies only include autistic people who have received a formal diagnosis through assessment with the very tools and tests we are investigating. As diagnostic and screening tools (including RAADS-R) were developed with male samples, they are most likely to identify autistic women with the most male-like profiles.

This might explain why fewer women tend to be diagnosed. It could be, then, that the screening tests filter out all of the autistic women with more female-like autism traits, and the autistic women with more male-like traits go on to be diagnosed. Or it could be that the underlying sample is biased because the formal diagnostic tools select people with more male-like traits, and the screening tool merely reflects this underlying bias.

Our results could show that our sample didn’t represent a diverse range of autistic women, then. And this is a problem that affects all research on sex differences in autism.




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As more males than females have received a diagnosis of autism, many of the theories we have about autism are based on these diagnosed cases, and, as a result, may only apply to males. Likewise, as we base our screening tools and diagnostic tools on males who have been diagnosed, we may only pick up women who show male-like symptoms.

We could be missing the women who have very different, more female presentations of autism, but who still show the core features that are central to the diagnosis. These include problems with social interaction, communication and restricted behaviour and interests.

Because screening and diagnostic tests focus on the most common, male manifestations of these core symptoms, females tend to be overlooked. Circumscribed interests in males, for example, are more likely to be based on unusual topics, whereas girls and women may centre their interests on things like celebrities or fashion, only the intensity of the interest sets them apart from non-autistic females.

One clear difference

There was only one prominent sex difference that emerged in our study: autistic women reported more sensory differences and motor problems than autistic men. Sensory and motor symptoms are common in autism. People may be over or under sensitive to sights, sounds, touches, smells and tastes, and are often clumsy and poorly coordinated.

Some autistic people are sensitive to certain fabrics. Purino/Shutterstock.com

This self-reported finding, that women have more sensory and motor symptoms than men, needs to be investigated more thoroughly. However, it appears to be consistent with a few studies that have found that autistic women do have more sensory and motor symptoms than men.

If these types of symptoms are especially problematic for autistic women, they could be important for providing a diagnosis. Although RAADS-R measures sensory and motor symptoms, they play a very minor role in gold-standard diagnostic tests, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.

The importance of a diagnosis?

Efforts are now underway to develop screening tools that are better at identifying autism in females.

Diagnosis is important for autistic people for many reasons. For example, it is the only way they can access support services, such as dedicated support workers to help them with activities at home or in daily life. They might also receive financial support if they need it. (Unemployment affects most of the autistic population and may in part be due to high levels of mental illness in this group.)

Other people have spoken about how having a diagnosis has helped them understand the struggles they’ve faced in their lives – that these things weren’t their fault. And it has helped them meet other people who accept them for who they are.


Rachel Moseley, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Bournemouth University and Julie Kirkby, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.