Resistance, identities, and reducing pressure: Reflections on GEA Conference 2017
by Nicole Johnson, PhD Student, Open University of Catalonia
After enjoying the keynotes, sessions, and conversations at the 2017 GEA Conference, I found myself reflecting over the past month on the themes that emerged and impacted me. I’ve been sitting on this blog post, pondering, as I try to find the right words to describe the way this conference has shaped me as an academic.
Through deep discussions on privilege, identity, resistance, and feminism in all its forms, I was reminded of the importance of creating space for diversity and the importance of actively listening to the wide range of perspectives and experiences from around the globe as we seek to address inequity and injustice worldwide. I met people with similar life experiences to mine and I met people whose experiences were very different. We laughed together, we debated pressing issues, we helped one another see our potential blind spots, we discovered commonalities amidst our diversity, and we heard one another.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the keynote presentations, I found the most value in the parallel sessions, discovering the vast scope of research that is being undertaken in the field of gender and education. Furthermore, the discussions resulting from those sessions were powerful, insightful, and encouraging.
My key takeaway: When we surround ourselves with diversity, we are better able to understand our own biases and blindspots.
My key takeaway: When we surround ourselves with diversity, we are better able to understand our own biases and blindspots. In other words, when we open ourselves to hearing the experiences of others, we see our own experiences in a new light and the lens through which we design studies and analyze data is reshaped. We also begin to see the unique and ever-evolving shape of our personal lens more objectively, as well as our personal distortions due to this shape of our lens . As other voices, that tell of experiences very different from our own, penetrate our understanding of concepts and events, we begin to understand how privilege (whether it be due to gender, race, or class) has given some of us a pre-shaped lens. We can then, hopefully more willingly, create space for those with different experiences to correct our distortions so we see our world more accurately.
For more about the GEA Conference 2017, check out the #GEAConf2017 Storify curated by Kate Marston, GEA Social Media intern. Do you have reflections to share about your experience at GEA Conference 2017? Let us know!
We look forward to seeing you at GEA Conference 2018 at the University of Newcastle Australia!