On Wednesday 28 November, Newcastle University Feminist Society conducted a talk about intersectionality in scientific spaces. According to Feminist Society’s official Facebook page, the talk aimed to “argue that intersectional research methods and perspectives can produce knowledge that is more just, reflective, egalitarian, and action oriented.”
The talk was led by Tina Sikka, a Media, Culture and Heritage lecturer at Newcastle University. Tina Sikka is a specialist researcher in gender, technology, environment, health and food studies. She is going to release a new publication entitled ‘Climate Technology, Gender and Justice: The Standpoint of the Vulnerable’ this February 2019. The talk mainly focussed on medically assisted dying and climate change.
Sikka began by highlighting how unintentional gender biases manifest in health-care services. She considers this to be rooted from medical textbook materials and research protocols that shape the basis of modern medicine which are mostly conducted on men.
Sikka said: “Studies have recorded how greater numbers women are given sedatives for pain when compared to men; that women are given referrals to pain clinics for chronic pain at lower rates; and that women tend to experience longer wait times in emergency rooms.”
Sikka sees this uneven treatment which extends to racialised minorities, non-binary gender identities and low socio-economic status groups. She discussed that these factors should be considered when treating a patient in an equitable manner.
In a 2014 survey conducted on 2000 women by the National Pain Report, it was found that 75% had their pains dismissed by a doctor on at least one occasion, 45% of which have been told it was all in their head. Many people argue that these cases are caused by gender-based stereotypes.
The talk continued with the unequal power relations in geo-engineering. Despite the researchers highlighting the potential risks of counteracting climate change, Sikka argues this “responsiveness” is “insufficient” for local regions.
Discussing the exclusion of individuals, Sikka described the geo-engineering research as “revolutionary developments which perpetuates inequality and privilege.” She stated: “We need more understanding of marginalisation with the new technology to have a more robust host of technological development.”