We conclude that although the importance of relationships sustained within networks has long been recognised within the industry, and that festival cities offer dynamic environments in which to investigate the workings of social networks, there is scant reflection of this in the event studies literature. A research method is proposed as suitable for application across a diverse range of festivals and events.
What was the greatest astronomical discovery of the 20th century? Some would say pulsars – highly magnetised, rotating neutron stars emitting beams of electromagnetic radiation. The scientific world was informed of these in a paper published by Nature in 1968.
When the press learned that the research team behind the discovery had at one point considered that “little green men” might be sending the signals, journalists queued up for interviews. Then the news got even better: SJ Bell, one of the co-authors, happened to be young and female. Here was the perfect candidate to interview and photograph for a human interest angle on the story. How many boyfriends did she have? Was she taller or shorter than Princess Margaret? Meanwhile the men on the team could be asked to supply details of the scientific work, even though it was Jocelyn Bell who actually discovered the first pulsar in November 1967.
In 1974 Tony Hewish and Martin Ryle were jointly awarded the Nobel prize for physics in recognition of the discovery. This was considered remarkable for two reasons. First, the prize had never gone to astronomy before. Second, and more controversially in the opinion of many, Bell Burnell (by this time married) was not cited in the award. She had apparently been overlooked in favour of her supervisor and head of group. This turned her into a cause célèbre for 1970s feminism.
Ada Lovelace Day
The now Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has this month become the first female president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. As one of her first duties, she is presenting a keynote speech on October 14 at an event to mark the achievement of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine as part of Edinburgh Napier University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Though Bell Burnell does not herself bemoan her lack of a Nobel prize, claiming that this might have precluded other honours and opportunities during her career, the date of this speech coincides with Ada Lovelace Day. Lovelace is another scientific heroine, born in 1815. The mathematician and writer is regarded as the world’s first computer programmer, though some claim that she and other women who played significant roles in computing have been deliberately written out of history. The dedicated day is an attempt both to write them back in, and prompt the scientific community to acknowledge the contribution of female scientists and engineers across all disciplines.
It is also a useful opportunity to point out to how under-represented women still are in this area. Only 13% of jobs in science-related professions are held by women. The next generation looks somewhat better, but still far from encouraging: twice as many A-level maths candidates are boys as girls; in physics A-level the disparity is five times.
All prof boys together
In academia, the picture is mixed but in many respects just as disappointing. The proportion of academic positions in science subjects held by women is 40.4% – apparently not too bad compared to 44.5% in academia as a whole, and up from 39% three years earlier. But that hides enormous variation by subject. Nursing is 73.7% female academics. Veterinary medicine is 53.3%, psychology 59% and clinical medicine 52%.
Indeed, all the subjects with the higher proportion of female academics all involve studying beings with beating hearts – the other 19 of the 23 science subjects have a male academic bias. Contrast in particular with these subjects: electrical/electronic/computer engineering 13.8%, mechanical/aero/production engineering 15.7%. physics 17.4%. Clearly it is in these areas where there are no living entities that we need to focus.
It is true that the position has changed since Bell Burnell was invited to make comments on her personal life to journalists. Women are unlikely to be greeted by wolf whistles when they walk into lecture theatres in these subjects nowadays. The female proportions are ticking upwards even in the most male-dominated subjects. There is also the Athena SWAN initiative. Set up by the Equality Challenge Unit charity, it consists of a charter that pushes for more gender equality in science academia by encouraging institutions to make a thorough assessment of their position in this area, and devise action plans to improve it. A large number of UK universities have signed up to it.
So far still to go
Yet women working in the science side of academia are equally aware of how far we still have to go. It may sound encouraging that between 1991 and 2010 the number of female professors in physics increased from two to 36, until you realise that the total in the UK is 650. Only last week I was on an advisory panel of 12 academics for the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. The number of men to women? Eleven to one.
Obviously the solution to this problem is very deep-rooted and well beyond the confines of this article. It probably goes right back to girl babies being given pink clothes and boy babies being given blue. In our culture at least, the subjects that are proper for girls to study are probably subtly reinforced at every level from there onwards. And while things do seem to be slowly changing, this makes me think of something that the artist Grayson Perry was saying on the BBC Today programme the other day. In the context of the slow growth in the proportion of female MPs in parliament, he pointed out that it would take a century at the current rate to reach a point of gender balance. For female academics in science subjects as for women in parliament, do we really want to wait that long? Or in the name of the likes of Ada Lovelace and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, is it time we intervened more forcefully?
Hazel Hall does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) is regarded as the world’s first computer programmer. Her notes on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine are recognised as the first algorithm to be carried out by a machine. Despite this achievement, hers is not a household name (although that of her father, Lord Byron, is). Some claim that Lovelace, along with a string of other women who have played significant roles in computing, has been deliberately written out of history. Ada Lovelace Day is an attempt to write her (and the others) back in, and to prompt the scientific community to acknowledge the contribution of female scientists and engineers across all disciplines. By highlighting role models such as Lovelace, those who organise events on Ada Lovelace Day hope to inspire greater participation of women in STEM.
I have been involved in the organisation of tonight’s event as Edinburgh Napier University’s Academic Champion for the Athena SWAN charter. The charter is an initiative to encourage and recognise commitment in higher education institutions to combatting the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM – with the extra M for medicine) research and academia, and to the advancement of women in STEMM careers.
One of the goals of my Athena SWAN role is to raise the profile of the University’s work towards gender equality at Edinburgh Napier University. So tonight, as well as the keynote speech from Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, there will also be addresses from the University’s Principal and Vice Chancellor Andrea Nolan, the Director of Equate Scotland Linda Somerville, and me. Our audience will include female undergraduate and postgraduate STEMM students, University staff, alumni, and external stakeholders from across science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine in the public and private sectors.
Not only will we be marking Ada Lovelace Day tonight, but also the University’s 50th anniversary. It promises to be a great evening for celebrating the achievements of Edinburgh Napier’s women in STEMM to date, and for looking forward to future success.
Christine Irving, part-time Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI) at Edinburgh Napier University, is currently working on a thesis, provisionally entitled The development of a model of information literacy from a lifelong learning perspective, for the award of PhD by Published Works. This work will draw on Christine’s long track record of research and development work on information literacy and lifelong learning undertaken between 2004 and 2010 as part of the Scottish Information Literacy Project (2004-2010), and which continues with the Scottish Information Literacy Community of Practice The right information: information skills for a 21st century Scotland. I am Christine’s Director of Studies, and Dr Alison Brettle of the University of Salford is her second supervisor. Christine is required to submit her 25,000 word thesis by September 2015.
Iris Buunk holds a Masters degree in Information Sciences awarded jointly by the Haute École de Gestion in Geneva, Switzerland and the École de bibliothéconomie et des sciences de l’information (EBSI) at the Université de Montréal in Canada. Since 1999 she has worked as an information professional in several public sector institutions including: the University of Geneva as a Trainer-Librarian; the Swiss-French National Radio as a research assistant on an FP6 European project that focused on audio semantic search; and more recently the University of Lausanne as an Information Literacy Project Coordinator. Iris has also been an adult trainer for several years in the fields of social media, e-reputation, information literacy, and advanced information search.
Iris’ research at Edinburgh Napier University will explore the impact of social media tools on tacit knowledge sharing practices between employees within public sector organisations. Iris’ second supervisor within the Centre for Social Informatics is Dr Colin Smith.
John Mowbray has just been awarded an MSc in Information and Library Studies with distinction by Strathclyde University. John’s work experience includes employment in food retail, accountancy, and information services.
John’s doctoral study at Edinburgh Napier University is concerned with the evolution of social networking, and its impact on career management skills. As existing research in this area focuses largely on off-line networks, particular attention will be paid to social media as tools for networking, and their potential use for job searching and career development amongst the workforce in Scotland. As an exploration of information behaviour and use within the context of employment research, this work will provide a theoretical insight into how information is deployed and disseminated in social networks supported by social media for both social and economic benefit. Professor Robert Raeside, Director of the Employment Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier University, is John’s second supervisor. John’s research is funded by an ESRC studentship offered through the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science with the support of Skills Development Scotland.
The award, offered annually by the UK Electronic Information Group (a special interest group of CILIP), is for “outstanding work in the information field”. It recognises indviduals who have:
raised the profile of the information profession within an organisation or field of endeavour in a way which has become an exemplar to others;
raised awareness of the value of information in the workplace;
demonstrated excellence in education and teaching in information science;
made a major contribution to the theory and practice of information science or information management.
Cronin has won his award on the basis of thirty years of innovative research and teaching, coupled with demonstrated leadership in the fields of information science and information management. For further details of Blaise’s distinguished career, please see the citation on the Jason Farradane page of the UKeIG web site. There you will also learn of the achievements of the other 2014 Jason Farradane Award winner, Lucy Tedd.
As a post-script I should say that I am particularly pleased to learn that Blaise’s outstanding career has been recognised in this way: I put his name forward for this award.
Entitled Life in the digital fishbowl: managing your reputation online, Frances used her hour under the spotlight to discuss with the audience the role that online information plays in determining an individual’s reputation. The content of the presentation drew on work that Frances has undertaken in the first few months of her doctoral research. She raised questions about how people determine the information that they share with (or obscure from) others, both intentionally and unintentionally, and related how the information sharing choices of others can have an impact on one’s own reputation, whether this is welcomed or not. In short, your reputation is created by you, and others’ comments and pictures related to you, expressed and/or published online and elsewhere.
After taking questions (on big data, the Internet as a tool for democracy, information literacy, and the ethics of conducting research in this area) Frances drew attention to some homework sheets distributed around the room. These listed tips, tricks, and reminders for the audience members to follow up in their own time:
Google yourself (use other search engines too)
Remember to do an image search
Use different search terms, e.g locations, schools, workplaces
Search for usernames and email addresses
Check for old or forgotten accounts
Delete or update details as necessary
Contact administrators about lost log-in details
Review your privacy settings – and terms and conditions
Don’t forget that your privacy is determined by your friends
Think before you share
And think before you comment on others’ posts too
Ask your friends to update their privacy settings
And ask the not to check you in or share images of you without permission
Think about your identities
Do you need more than one?
Do you need to block some people from certain accounts?
Do you need separate accounts for your private and work lives?
Soon Frances will move on to empirical work for her study. She is keen to discuss the future stages of research, share information about her research interests, and to meet anyone who would like to take part in surveys and/or interviews on the themes of her research.