Reflections on our online Sociology of Gender Conference
In March, the Sociology group held the annual student conference as part of the assessments on the Sociology of Gender module. Over the course of the term, students were working in groups and designing and executing a small research project working collaboratively and using digital tools.
This work culminated in a student conference where students were required to present the projects they had been working on for the module to other students as well as to myself and Dr Darren Nixon. Overall, we were really impressed both with the work presented and the ways in which students adapted to the challenging new circumstances in which they have found themselves this year. So we wanted to share reflections on the conference from two of the students who took part.
Jade Parkin, Year 2, BA Sociology:
“Initially, I was really worried about the student conference and how me and my teammates in the group would be able to carry out primary research and produce a presentation without being able to meet in person due to being in lockdown. But thanks to Zoom, Microsoft Teams and text messages we were able to communicate effectively in order to get the project done.
We focused on the gendered challenges faced by key workers whilst working for the NHS during Covid-19. For our primary research we used semi-structured interviews framed by secondary research, such as sociological resources and relevant news articles. In summary, a couple of the gendered challenges we found was that women were less likely to progress into higher roles and the band 7 roles onwards were predominately worked by males as oppose to bands 4-6 which were worked by mainly women. We also found that since Covid-19 women have been more likely to take on a triple shift whilst caring for vulnerable and elderly family members whilst maintaining their home and work life balance.
On the first day of the conference, we watched presentations on Microsoft Teams which really helped us to get a feel of what to expect the following day. On the day of our presentation, I was nervous about presenting over Teams and was a bit apprehensive about it, but unlike being in uni itself, it was nice to be able to do the presentation, which lasted roughly 25 minutes including questions, and then turn the camera off once we were finished. It felt like it drew some of the attention away from us which really put me at ease. Naturally, I get really nervous during presentations like most of us do but doing it from the comfort of my own surroundings definitely helped me on the day and it was a great experience which has put me in good stead for next year.”
Mishani Ketheswaran, Year 2, BA Sociology:
"The group project I was part of looked at the gendered perceptions of employees who worked in the automobile industry. We investigated the differences between the views of men and women on work and the stereotypes that my prevent individuals from achieving their highest potential. Carry out research during the pandemic was vastly different from how it would have been in previous years, all research was carried out online through surveys distributed and collected by the team.
The conference was also held online this year. As our professors recounted previous conferences held in person, I found myself feeling the same way previous students must have felt, a palpable electricity in the air and a nervous energy connecting us through our laptops and PCs, to create a virtual reality where I felt like I was attending the conference in person.
While I was initially nervous about presenting, it was refreshing to know that what I spoke was being listened to and noted by students, and as I spoke, I realised how incredible a journey I would embark on in my future studies with similar presentations and projects. More than anything, the conference helped me get an idea of what I would face further on in my higher education journey, while allowing me to appreciate the wonderful efforts of my peers in designing feasible projects and carrying them out successfully.”
Dr Natalia Gerodetti is the Course Director for Sociology and has carried out funded research on gender and sexuality, as well as the social and political context of eugenics. She has published in the area of feminist theory and the regulation of sexualities. Further interests include migrants' identities in relation to food cultivation and allotment gardening. In relation to teaching and pedagogy she is particularly interested in developing and engaging students with games based learning.