Most of the work presented here has been done in collaboration with Flora Vincent (on the picture). Eight years ago, we started working together with the same will to change how science is seen and how science is done, to make it more inclusive. Since then, we worked through diverse ways to make this vision move forward.
We founded and ran an association for 4 years, developed several websites, wrote a book, wrote essays, created in collaboration with artists exhibitions, original pedagogical contents, a comic book ! Our interests are at the intersection of science, society, gender equality, stereotypes and design. We currently still work together by giving conferences, consulting for associations and institutions and hopefully creating new things. We are always happy to collaborate on new projects.
While I always hope that this work has some impact , I am at least convinced that exploring these subjects impacts me and allows me to learn and experience many things. I had the chance of sharing some of my thoughts about this in a french radio show dedicated to women scientists (France Inter): Les Savantes.
Artificial Intelligence and Gender equality
Co-author with F. Vincent of the book “L’intelligence artificielle pas sans elles”, Belin edition, 2019
Loose title translation : Artificial Intelligence, not without her. Book for the general public on algorithms bias and more generally on links between sex/gender and artificial intelligence. The book was accompanied by development of an exhibition, outreach videos, a comic book and a series of conferences on AI sexist bias (Description of the full campaign here). The book was reprinted 3 times in a few months and sold in several thousands of copies. Following the publication of the book, we were contacted by members of the Parliament, and of the government to consult on this subject. We also followed up with conferences and additional publications (Revue Hommes et libertés, Ligue des Droits de l’homme : La mixité, outil de questionnement scientifique ; Revue Diplomées : Cultures numériques, la norme mâle) and inspired and helped elaborate within a NGO a pact for companies, associations, institutions for an inclusive AI.
A few videos: TV interview on France Info: L’instant ; Outreach video: The creation of algorithms bias
A few press articles: Le Monde, Uzbek et Rica, Le Nouveau Magazine Litteraire, L’Opinion, Libération
Gender Bias in Research and gendered innovations
Science suffers from a sex and gender bias. Upon discovery of how research is impacted by this phenomenon, notably in the wonderful website: https://genderedinnovations.stanford.edu/methods-sex-and-gender-analysis.html. We set out to to raise awareness about this subject. This is taking diverse forms such as videos, lobbying scientific institutions, writings and conferences. Here are showcased:
– one outreach video, that explains the basis of this concept and why it matters. It won a prize at the 2013 gender summit contest. It also exists in French
– one video of a conference we gave at l’Echappee Volée (a general public conference TED-like, 1200 people). The text of the talk was published in the book « Demain, territoire de tous les possibles “under the direction of Michel Levy-Provencal, Larousse.
Promoting science without stereotype: WAX Science
Co-Founder and Co-President of WAX Science
WAX Science (What about Xperiencing Science) is an NGO that promotes science without stereotypes and gender balance in science by creating and spreading innovating tools (co-presidency 2013-2016). It was founded in 2013 (and is still running) and during the co- presidency rose to 40 active volunteers, 6 full time interns, 50k€ budget, tens of projects, and more than 10 000 people reached by the activities of the association.
One of the specificity of the association is the work at the interface between design and science. Typically, we developed « tools » (exhibitions, workshops, educational kit, videos) which we then use in the field but which we also shared on our wesite. The objective, that these can be used free of charge by other associations or people wishing to raise awareness in these areas.
For example, we created
– « pedagological kits » with both content and activities: on HIV (initially created for Solidays), Genetic Engineering, and women in science (Les Découvreuses anonymes)
– exhibitions such as Les Decouvreuses Anonymes (showcased dozens of times in more than 5 countries) about women in science or « Femmes Objets » (all exhibitions here)
– workshops: for example a year of activity for a science club in primary school (all workshops here )
– videos (all videos here) such as portraits produced in partnership with national media like Mademoizelle on women scientists such as Francoise Barré Sinoussi or Marthe Gautier. Regarding Marthe Gautier, we also sought to develop her online presence by creating for example her wikipedia page or telling her story on the WAX website and in videos.
Among these « tools », those which invested the most time in were « websites ». The first, wax-science.fr had several objectives: to offer original articles with a different vision of science, far from stereotypes but also to be a platform for the dissemination of the tools that we have developed (open source model). From 10,000 unique visitors in its first year, the site had over 45,000 unique visitors in its 4th year, for a total of 602 original articles.
We then created the app and associate website Itcounts (http://itcounts-app.org/). Its objective, developing citizen science to count men and women in professional circles (teams, meetings …). The app offers both counting and data analysis tools as well as access to the collected data. This work notably led to a collaboration with a researcher at Sciences Po to try to develop new indicators of parity during conferences. Finally, we collaborated with Data For Good to develop a data visualization project around gender equality in the french parliament (http://www.pariteaupouvoir.com/).
Beyond these different « concrete » tools, we gave a lot of talks in a variety of settings (schools, companies, large audiences, small committees, etc.) on various subjects (popularization of science, gender bias in science, equality between women and men, interest in activism …). On average over our 4 years of co-presidency, we were running 32 interventions per year and 3200 people were affected « directly » by these conferences.
Introducing sex analysis in a synthetic biology competition: IGEM
iGEM is a worldwide synthetic biology competition that was initially aimed at university students. I participated as a student in 2013.
While the core of the competition is to design and implement as a team in a summer a scientific project of synthetic biology, iGEM also requires to develop « human practices » ie projects that question the link of synthetic biology to society. I participated in the 2013 as a member of the Paris Bettencourt team and we worked on ways to fight against tuberculosis. A summary of all the project is accessible here.
I championned within the team a project dedicated to study the place of women with the competition and the synbio world, which can be found here. We thus quantified how present women were within each role of the community.Through diverse methods, we studied the motivations of women and men, the work divide and the success of gender equal teams. We provided recommendations to improve gender equality within the competition.
These results were presented at the international jamboree in MIT, notably in collaboration with a designer (infographics on the left) and orally in front of 2000 people (as our team won the competitions between 210 teams). They were commented in the press (for example Scientific American). It was the first time, such a subject was introduced in the competition. This study led the iGEM organization committee to launch a proactive policy to reduce gender inequality, on which I consulted in the next following years.
Debating on the national radio about diverse scientific subjects
In 2013, I had the opportunity to discuss the results of the iGEM Paris Bettencourt Team on the French National Radio, France culture
Comment devient-on champions du monde de biologie synthétique ?.
Following this show, I was invited as a regular guest of Science Publique, a Science Show that discussed scientific topics with a focus on their societal aspects. For 3 years, I was taking part in conversations relating to diverse subjects such as gravitational waves, consciousness, microbiome… My role was to debate and question experts in the field alongside a journalist an another scientist. All the shows are available here https://www.franceculture.fr/personne-aude-bernheim