Athena Swan society and SU Diversity Officers collaborate for video series
Published: 17 May 2021
St George’s Athena Swan student society and the Students’ Union’s Diversity Officers have collaborated to produce a four-part video series with St George’s students and staff looking at their life experiences as women, and their perspectives on gender inequality. The group recently presented the findings from the project at an Education Ideas Hub event on Wednesday 12 May.
President of the Athena Swan student society, Tamari Nyakunengwa, explains more about the series, where the idea for it came from, and what she hopes the video series achieves.
Tamari begins, “I tend to think a lot about what it means to identify as a Black British woman within my social circles and my academic field, and what more I could be doing to support marginalised social groups by acknowledging the intersectionality of our experiences.
“This year, in light of the disparities revealed by the pandemic, and the integral conversations about racial discrimination brought on by the tragedies surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, it became apparent that we fail as a society to communicate about certain issues enough. Both within the St George's community and in our day to day lives, the importance of collaborative education and action in bringing about positive change - especially in terms of gender inequality – is huge.
“Ultimately, the project was a way to highlight that gender inequality is an issue that everyone, of all gender identities, needs to collectively overcome. We knew that we wanted to include a diverse array of perspectives in the videos, and I was so appreciative of the wonderfully profound responses given by our interviewees. Hearing about what work still needed to be done, as well as hopes for the future of gender equality, was poignant and inspiring.
“Initially, we cast quite a wide net in our call for contributions after coming up with three main questions: ‘What's the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word woman?’, ‘What work do you think still needs to be done for gender equality?’ and ‘Why is International Women's Day important to you?’
“What I found most intriguing was a trend in the responses, which was similar to my experiences in the role of President of the Athena SWAN Student Network this year. Whilst we received an array of responses from women in leadership roles at the University, it was evident that the majority of the student body itself - and especially those who did not identify as women - had refrained from engaging with the project with the same level of enthusiasm.
“The main reason I believe this is the case is because people still perceive sociology and STEM to be binary, distinct fields that cannot be incorporated into one another. That's precisely why I felt it was so important for this project to demonstrate how we can consistently bridge the gap between the two disciplines by bringing the sociological aspect into our daily perspectives and actions.”
Producing the videos involved working with the Students’ Union’s Diversity Officers, an experience that Tamari thoroughly enjoyed.
She continues, “Working with (Students’ Union Diversity Officers) George Hadjiyiannakis and Chantal Salira was brilliant because they're both deeply passionate about raising awareness of these issues. Being able to bounce our ideas off one another while producing this project was exciting!
“The Athena SWAN Student Network is a student-led society that primarily aims to promote racial diversity and the equality of all genders, especially within the context of STEM career development. We hold engaging workshops, seminars and opportunities for conversation surrounding how we can implement these intersectional principles as the cornerstones of our future practice as healthcare professionals.
“In terms of students who are considering joining the society or the committee next year, I would like to let them know that our society is a safe and supportive space where we can learn how to confidently advocate for each other. I would also thank them for choosing to take the first step in a lifelong journey of activism. I really want to emphasise that it's never too late, and that nobody should ever feel too inexperienced, to contribute to this incredible movement.”
You can view the four-part video series on the Athena Swan student society’s Instagram page.