Kersti R. Wissenbach | The Global Innovation Gathering
On October the 21st, CoAct organized its second *Open*Citizen*Social Science hangout. This monthly informal get together has come to life to provide a space for anyone working in or being interested in any of the affiliated fields. We are collectively deciding upon the topics we wish to discuss and provide a space for everyone to share their work, experiences, and to raise and discuss critical questions.
This time we came together to share our thoughts around the framing of gender equality in *Open*Citizen*Social Science contexts.
Despite the small number of participants, we had a flourishing and highly inspiring discussion. We are summarizing some aspects we extracted as central to consider when wanting to integrate the concept of gender equality to a newly emerging approach, such as in the Citizen Social Sciences, and which can serve as key pointers for further, more in-depth discussion
Is the concept of gender equality reproducing the binary rather than enforcing diversity?
This was one of the first question that arose, a big one, which is something to ponder on and reattend in a dedicated further conversation.
It is central to account for the diverse types of power dynamics we need to look at when engaging co-researchers as well as collaborating across different teams. This relates to political and financial power dynamics attached to different gender groups in different contexts and collaboration dynamics and how it creates biases in collaboration processes, results, etc. Power dynamics can be rooted in traumas, individual experiences, etc. held by every individual in different ways.
In those regards we also acknowledged, that diverting to other terminologies, such as gender diversity, would rather mask persistent inequalities. What is needed instead is to surface and acknowledge power dynamics and the respectively inherent inequalities.
Interaction cannot be truly equal in collaborative processes in which one party is invited in, in which a plentitude of power dynamics come to play, as earlier mentioned. This let us, for now, to agree that there will always be power dynamics, there will always be gender Inequalities. Thus, the question we should focus on is HOW to openly address and acknowledge this.
This let us to agree that sensitivity towards gender equality is enough but that we need an openly critical approach, proactively identifying, unpacking, and acknowledging the inequalities structurally rooted in those power dynamics and embracing those that are inherent in our work, certain constellations of collaboration, etc.
But how can such acknowledgement look like? We find a common ground in feminist science discourse, but it is to be asked how we enact this in our practical realities – How do we work with that in community building, opening up to a diverse range of participants? What questions do we ask, what do we react on as inclusive or not inclusive, or critical and non-critical approaches, in our daily work?
A very first step towards acknowledgment might be to see the effects of power structures on a deeper level, embracing everyone’s lives, traumas, pasts – every individual life cycle and how they form us.
*The next hangout will take place on November 18th at 14:00 PM. We will discuss collaboration dynamics in cross-disciplinary teams, be it collaborating with citizens, teams consisting of academia and activists, or other constellations. How do we embrace and work through status and power dynamics therein?
**We also invite you to join our *Open*Citizen*Social Science signal group if you would like to join our conversations or wish to stay in the loop about future events: bit.ly/2NtDeCW