Background

As research institutions become increasingly aware of their obligation to engage the public as well as their dependency on public opinion for funding and political support, they are faced with challenges long familiar to those working in communication of gender research. In the Nordic countries, political efforts of the last 30 years to reach a gender equal society have raised a need for more knowledge. As a result, the interdisciplinary field of gender research has grown at universities in the region and most Nordic countries have established information and documentations centres of gender research. The challenge for these information centres has been to communicate gender research to a public field of politicians, authorities, NGOs, activists, mainstream media, etc. In one way this is a relatively easy task due to great public interest in gender issues – as we also find in other research areas such as environmental and health issues. On the other hand, the field is contested – again a parallel to environment and health – and preconceptions flourish, eg. the gender stereotypes dominating mainstream media. Gender research is also sometimes criticised of being political. Thus the challenge is to convince public opinion that gender research is reliable although it may be demanding and critical.

Objective

The workshop will discuss the challenges for research communication staff working in the intersection of research, politics and public opinion.

Method

Case studies from the Nordic region will be presented by the information centres of gender research. Comparison can be made with similar cases in interdisciplinary research fields such as environmental studies.

Results

Through a discussion with the participants of the workshop there will be an exchange of knowledge and practices how to handle the “in between” situation for communication staff.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Between research, politics and public opinion -the case of gender research communication

Bosse Parbring   NIKK -Nordic Institute for Gender Research

Background

As research institutions become increasingly aware of their obligation to engage the public as well as their dependency on public opinion for funding and political support, they are faced with challenges long familiar to those working in communication of gender research. In the Nordic countries, political efforts of the last 30 years to reach a gender equal society have raised a need for more knowledge. As a result, the interdisciplinary field of gender research has grown at universities in the region and most Nordic countries have established information and documentations centres of gender research. The challenge for these information centres has been to communicate gender research to a public field of politicians, authorities, NGOs, activists, mainstream media, etc. In one way this is a relatively easy task due to great public interest in gender issues – as we also find in other research areas such as environmental and health issues. On the other hand, the field is contested – again a parallel to environment and health – and preconceptions flourish, eg. the gender stereotypes dominating mainstream media. Gender research is also sometimes criticised of being political. Thus the challenge is to convince public opinion that gender research is reliable although it may be demanding and critical.

Objective

The workshop will discuss the challenges for research communication staff working in the intersection of research, politics and public opinion.

Method

Case studies from the Nordic region will be presented by the information centres of gender research. Comparison can be made with similar cases in interdisciplinary research fields such as environmental studies.

Results

Through a discussion with the participants of the workshop there will be an exchange of knowledge and practices how to handle the “in between” situation for communication staff.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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