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Gender Summit 6-Asia Pacific: A student perspective on gender perspectives 2015-09-09
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Gender Summit 6 –Asia Pacific:
A student perspective on gender perspectives

By Singouyng Lee(APIS student)

 The Gender Summit 6 - Asia Pacific was held in Seoul, Korea, from August 26-28 , 2015, with more than 500 delegates from more than 32 countries. Some 38 examples of research evidence incorporating gendered innovations for the creative economy were presented. But what will the next generation make of the gender dimension in science? High school student Shinyoung Lee, 17, at APIS(ASIA PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL), tells us what she learned.

The Gender Summit 6 Asia Pacific allowed scientists, experts, and professors from all over the world to gather and share ideas about gendered innovations in science and technology. As a student reporter, I was able to participate in the first day of the Summit and learn about new ideas and perspectives that I had never encountered before. The Gender Summit was an amazing experience that taught me a new way to view this world by considering gender in all ongoing economic, social, political, technological, and education developments around the globe.

The first speaker of Conference 1 was Professor Myung Sook Oh, who discussed the importance of motivating female engineers to pursue their field of study. In the beginning, she presented statistics that proved that despite the rising female college enrollment, female employment rates were clearly lower than male employment rates. She also presented survey results that demonstrated the low aspirations of female engineering students to pursue careers in engineering. Thus, she claimed, education curricula should include elements that can motivate females to continue to work as engineers. She explained that the ability to make social contributions would appeal to female engineering students. This presentation was the first I listened to, but it had already intrigued me by the fact that women and men can both bring different perspectives and intelligence into sciences.

Willing to hear more ideas, my friends I interviewed Dr. Astrid Linder. She kindly explained to us the impact of gender innovation through the norm that dummy models used to test safety of cars should be male models. She told us that most cars are not well designed to protect women due to the lack of female crash test models. Furthermore, Dr. Linder explained that gendered innovation is something that has its objectives in trying to broaden the norms that generalize the human population with male models and in trying to re-train the population who has been trained to believe in those norms.

We moved to the parallel session to hear more real life examples and research that embodied gender innovations. The session started out with Professor Londa Schiebinger’s introduction of important terminologies, gender and sex. I had not realized that gender and sex were two different, incompatible terms until then. Sex is a term that describes biological features while gender describes learned behaviors that have been impacted by external forces. The two  are important variables that contribute to gendered innovations.

One interesting research result presented was about proving why women are more likely to suffer irritable bowel syndrome than men. Because this illness is caused by stress, researcher Nayoung Kim used Wistar rats to measure the stress levels in males and females when exposed to water, which causes them water avoidance stress. The results were exactly as the researchers expected! No error: Female rats had a higher level of stress compared to male rats. Thus, the researcher concluded that women’s higher sensitivity to stress might be the reason why females have a higher likelihood to suffer Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I was fascinated to hear that the higher sensitivity of females, which I only knew through common sense, was proven through scientific research! I thought that this case well represented the objective of gendered innovations.

Overall, after attending this summit, I have changed my views to now focus on gender factors in all areas, including economy, politics, society, and education. I have realized that gender inequality is prevalent even in scientific research and how much gender and sex could impact research results, furthermore affecting the global society. I now desire to become an advocate of gendered innovations throughout my life as a student, and as an adult in my future job. I hope to see gendered innovations shaping the world into a better one.

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