Intersectionality Workshop at ILA2018

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Intersectionality workshop at ILA2018: A diverse, gender-balanced audience! 🙂

This week I presented at ILA2018 (here is the link to my poster presentation: “Write 4 Change”: Cultivating Autonomous, Global EFL Learners through Blogging). The conference highlight for me was the intersectionality workshop presented by Quenby Hoffman Aoki, JALT GALE SIG‘s coordinator.

It's Complicated_ Exploring Intersectional Identities in the Language Classroom

In her interactive workshop, Quenby first defined intersectionality, and then the participants discussed their experiences and engaged in several activities which can be applied in language classrooms.

What Is Intersectionality?

  • First named in the 1980’s by African-American feminist scholars (e.g., Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech, 1851)
  • Intersecting identities, including race, class, and gender, result in both privilege and oppression
  • The idea that systems of oppression are interrelated and cannot be considered in isolation
  • Also known as hybridity, matrix of oppression, multiple identities, mestizaje, double jeopardy
  • Although everyone has both privilege and challenge, intersectionality is ultimately about social justice!

Here is a video on intersectionality from Teaching Tolerance website: Teaching at the Intersections: Honor and teach about your students’ multiple identities

 

Here are some parts from Why Intersectionality Can’t Wait:

Intersectionality was a lived reality before it became a term.

Intersectionality is not just about identities but about the institutions that use identity to exclude and privilege. The better we understand how identities and power work together from one context to another,  the less likely our movements for change are to fracture.

Others accuse intersectionality of being too theoretical, of being “all talk and no action.” To that I say we’ve been “talking” about racial equality since the era of slavery and we’re still not even close to realizing it. Instead of blaming the voices that highlight problems, we need to examine the structures of power that so successfully resist change.

Here is a book recommended by Quenby: Women Across Cultures: A Global Perspective by Shawn Meghan Burn

The quotes that Quenby referred to:

 

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Activities

Student-generated Comments

Small groups discuss current text or topic. Each group writes one comment or sentence on the board. Then, for homework students choose one of the comments for a short essay. At the bottom of their essays, each student writes one further question, to be discussed in the next class.

For example: Not all women are emotional, and not all men are logical.

Writing on the Wall

8 to 10 controversial sentences related to current class topic (you can see a sample below), with a horizontal line (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Tape on wall around classroom. Students walk around and put their mark on the line. Afterwards, discuss the results. Follow up with an essay assignment.

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The “Privilege and Challenge” Walk

Privilege Walk Lesson Plan: https://peacelearner.org/2016/03/14/privilege-walk-lesson-plan/

Note: “Privilege and Challenge” Walk has been criticized and I need to read more about it and learn how to make it better. I recently talked to Maha Bali about the activity and she believes that role play is better than making a line to do the activity.

The Big Social Identities

List the three that you think are most important.

  1. Race (Skin Color)
  2. Ethnicity (Background)
  3. Gender
  4. Socioeconomic Status (Class)
  5. Religion
  6. Sexual Orientation
  7. Physical and Mental Ability
  8. Age
  9. Nationality

Now complete the sentence:

Hello, my name is …………………. and I am ……………………………………………………… and ………………………………………………………………………………………

Discussion:

  • Are there any of the above categories that you do not relate to or think about much?
  • Any you find problematic or confusing? Any other categories you would like to add to the list? (Marital status was mentioned by one of the participants)
  • Which of your identities do you think others judge you by the most?
  • Which carry the most privilege or challenge?
  • Bonus ** Which of them are social constructs?

Freewrite:

Examine an interaction you have had recently. Consider how the situation might have been different if you change one aspect of your identity?

 

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The Nightmare of Conference Visa Applications

I currently live in a country which, according to the index of passport power (2018), holds the top ranking passport in the world.

I only have an Iranian passport and I found a website where I could compare my passport with other passports: www.henleypassportindex.com/compare-passport

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If you know me, you definitely know about my UK visa rejections and my online presence at EUROCALL2017 (here is the link to the story just in case: https://parisamehran.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/denied-yet-present-at-eurocall-2017-a-memoir/)

EUROCALL2018 will be held in Jyväskylä, Finland next month. Here is the title of my poster presentation:

Anika Kohler

In the middle of visa application for Finland, I wanted to give up many times and asked myself this question all the time:

“What if my visa application is denied again?”

Many thanks to a Canadian friend who encouraged me to continue and apply, I am off to Tokyo tomorrow to submit the documents on Monday and here I would like to share some of the tweets by Naveen Minai about the challenges of academics in, [and from], the Global South.

Before she starts, she emphasizes that she knows the term ‘Global South’ is still problematic and contested but she needs a shorthand for Twitter.

We need to apply for visas for traveling for conferences and research. Visa applications are time-consuming, expensive, and require a ton of running around and documentations, and approval is not guaranteed even if you have an invitation from conference organizers.

This means we often don’t apply for conferences in other countries because we

  1. can’t afford the visa app fee

  2. don’t have time to complete the visa application requirements

Also, a lot of us earn in currencies which are weak compared to, for example, US & Canadian dollars, UK pounds, or Euros. So it costs A LOT for us to not only apply for visas, but also to travel if we do get the visa in time.

Here is the list of documents that I prepared to apply for the Finnish visa and I have to mention that I paid 75,000 JPY (670 USD) yen for the translation of the Japanese documents. I also need to remark that it took me about 2 months and a half to collect all the documents:

  • Application form
  • Copy of the personal information page in my passport
  • Copy of my alien registration card
  • One colored passport photograph
  • Travel insurance
  • Reservation for travel tickets
  • Hotel reservation
  • Itinerary
  • Bank statement for the last six months
  • Bank account balance statement
  • Certificate of studentship
  • Certificate of Japanese Government Scholarship (Monbukagakusho)
  • Receipt of the conference registration
  • Payroll statement: Princeford English College, Kobe City University of Foreign Languages, Kobe Women’s University, Konan Women’s University
  • Invitation letter from EUROCALL2018
  • My supervisor’s letter saying that all the expenses will be covered by Osaka University
  • My business card
  • Copies of job contracts
  • Certificate of marraige
  • My husband’s alien registration card and personal information page in his passport

This year I also submitted two proposals to ISLS2018. Both of them got accepted, I registered for the conference and paid 160 Canadian Dollars, but I had to withdraw simply because I found the application for Canadian visa too complicated especially because the Visa and Immigration Section at the Embassy of Canada in Japan (Tokyo) is closed and services have been transferred to the Embassy of Canada in Philippines (Manila) plus I did not have time to complete the visa application requirements.

Naveen concludes:

Here, I would like to ask academics in the Global North to please x 10000 include video conference/Skype tech for conferences whenever possible so we can participate too! Esp b/c I do appreciate that funds &/or discounts for international travel & accommodation is also difficult to do!

And I cannot finish this blog post without referring to the following tweets.

Wish me good luck! And let me answer my own question: 

“What if my visa application is denied again?”

I will be online, follow every single tweet of the conference, and will be there via Virtually Connecting! 🙂

How to Achieve Gender Parity in ELT Conferences and Events: Some Guidelines

How to Achieve Gender Parity in ELT Conferences & Events (1)

I am an active member of JALT GALE SIG and we are discussing how to achieve gender parity in ELT conferences, events, and associations in general. It is believed that some guidelines are needed to make the selection processes systematic as there is a fine line between inclusion and positive discrimination. Some good articles have been shared on the GALE mailing list. As usual, I consulted EVE: Equal Voices in ELT. Also, I personally did a search and found some resources.

Here is the list of articles and other resources on this topic that I have read so far:

And here are the parts that I found interesting:

  1. Become aware of our own biases, which means recognizing the lenses that we’ve looked through for our entire lives.
  2. To reduce gender biases, we need to acknowledge them.
  3. Avoid these excuses: https://www.genderavenger.com/excuses/ and https://www.bbc.com/news/business-44310225
  4. Collect the data; i.e., count the number of women and men attending a conference.
  5. Develop a speaker policy; for example, the conference committee wants to achieve a gender balance of speakers that roughly reflects that of its audience.
  6. Make the policy visible and put it online for everyone to see.
  7. Establish a balanced and informed program committee. If the conference program committee is not diverse, then neither will be the speaker list.
  8. Report the data to see how well the conference, speaker series, or symposium meets its stated policy goals.
  9. Build and use databases because some people find it difficult to come up with names of women speakers, compared with men speakers. Here is an example: https://genderequalityelt.wordpress.com/database-of-women/
  10. Respond to resistance. Most criticisms are easily addressed by establishing a dialogue with those who are critical about establishing a policy, and you can prepare in advance.
  11. Support women at meetings. Women often have primary caring responsibility for children. This can limit their ability to travel and to attend conferences. So, be family-friendly.
  12. Take the pledge: When you are invited to help organize, attend, or speak at a conference, ask to see the conference speaker policy before you accept.
  13. Make diversity a strategic priority and expect those who work for and/or with us to do so as well.
  14. Raise awareness of diversity. If you are asked to present, be on a panel, or serve on a committee, ask if there are (other) women participating. If not, suggest names of women to invite.
  15. Consider not speaking at an event unless the event’s organizers are clearly working hard to address diversity on stage.

At Buffer, they ask themselves if the event displays the characteristics of their core  values. Here are some of them:

  • Default to transparency
  • Listen first, then listen more
  • Have a bias toward clarity
  • Make time to reflect
  • Show gratitude
  • Do the right thing

I think some of these guidelines can be applied to achieve highly proficient speaker parity in ELT conferences and events as well.

Finally, here is the most interesting conflict of interest I have ever read:

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
We care about diversity in science and may therefore be biased.

If you want to add more guidelines or share some resources on how to achieve gender parity in ELT conferences and events, which should not be an issue but it is in some contexts, please leave a comment.

Thank you.

Peace ❤

How to Get More Women to Apply to Speak at a Conference

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I’ll be holding a pre-conference workshop on Augmented and Virtual Realities in ELT this year and the line-up is not gender-balanced (12 presenters and two are women). I decided to apply because I knew that women usually do not present at these edtech workshops. I submitted my proposal, it was accepted, and I’ll be presenting!

I sent a message to EVECalendar (Equal Voices in ELT) on their Facebook page and asked them to help me find ways how to get more women to apply to speak at a conference, especially CALL-related conferences which are mainly male-dominant, as I am in touch with some conference organizers who really want to make their conferences gender balanced. Then, Fiona Mauchline (@fionamau), co-founder of EVECalendar, responded on Twitter, mentioned her colleagues, and we had a chat about this topic:

Here is a summary of the chat.

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Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses_sue)

How about not expecting people to ‘pay to present’? For people who aren’t funded, the cost of attending conferences can be a barrier to participation. Presenting at conferences can add to the cost, both directly and indirectly – particularly for freelancers.

Andy Hockley (@adhockley)

  1. Encourage women directly (when you meet someone doing interesting work, ask them to consider speaking, telling others).
  2. If they are nervous about presenting, give them support, advice. The IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG (LAMSIG) had a webinar with the FairList on this: 
  3. If there are “cultural barriers” to women travelling to conferences (for example), try and make the conferences go to different places. If they can’t come to conferences, can conferences come to them? 
  4. Don’t be afraid to use affirmative action. If you have to choose between two talks to include on the programme, and there isn’t much between them, choose the one given by a woman.

Sophia Mavridi (@SophiaMav)

There ARE indeed fewer women in tech. It’s usually men who put themselves forward, write books, become “names” and plenary speakers. Two reasons in my opinion:

  1. The “male computer geek” stereotype and unconscious bias. It starts at school and continuous indefinitely. The edtech expert has to prove her “geeky” self all the time.
  2. The fear of being a minority in an environment that is notoriously male-dominated is another serious barrier for many female colleagues. You have to become comfortable with it otherwise you just won’t survive.

As a conference organiser, I have to admit it is not always easy to find edtech women speakers. It takes conscious and ongoing effort but that’s the only way to make things happen. we DO need more women in edtech: Plenary speakers, book writers, app developers, and consultants.

And we do need to spread the word and have more discussions like this one and like the super #EVELT tweetchat organised by EVE (@eve_elt) and IATEFL LT SIG (@iatefl_ltsig). You can find some highlights from #EVELT here.

I think it starts from plenary speakers lineups. They’re usually male dominated (few women experts/ book writers etc in edtech and other reasons I mentioned earlier) so you need to make a conscious effort as an organiser.

If women see that plenary lineups are more balanced and there are more and more women who are acknowledged and appreciated as edtech experts, they are more likely to put themselves forward as speakers.

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I’d like to thank Fiona, Sue, Andy, and Sophia for sharing their thoughts. If you are reading this and have an idea to share about how to have female speakers on conference stages, please leave a comment. Thank you.

Peace

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Here are more comments:

Nicola Prentis (@NicolaPrentis)

If they’re the primary childcarer, ask if you can help with childcare for the day. It might only mean designating one person to stand with a baby at the back of the room for the talk. It might mean a creche. Cover the child’s airfare if needed. Realise this can be a barrier.

TESOL MWIS (@TESOLMWIS)

In general, the process of how one to become plenary or featured speaker is opaque. I know people who just seem to get invited because they are well-known, and others petition for years to be invited to speak at conferences. So maybe speakers can share how they got to be speakers?

Efi Tzouri (@efitzouri)

My personal experience has shown that women’s determination is the greatest source of inspiration!


Fiona Mauchline (@fionamau)

Thinking about it, many of the more prominent women in ELT/EdTech are from or in Greece…. you must be doing something right 🙂 Perhaps it’s a sense of community that helps and encourages?

Here are the answers to Fiona’s question for Greence-based ELT researchers:

Julie Moore (@lexicojules)

I’m speaking at a corpus linguistics conf next month, includes some ELT and I’d def say tech-ish … 2 out of 3 plenaries are female and at a rough glance, probably more female than male speakers overall.

Dimitris Primalis (@dprimalis)

We have a good record in Greece! As Tesol Greece chairman, I invited Eva Buyuksimkesyan to present on LT on TG’s very first webinar in 2013. The tradition continues with many excellent women LT speakers, some of whom often present at big international conferences .

Inviting excellent teachers to share their experience with the rest of the community encourages them to present their work. It usually takes one or two presentations and after that they act autonomously.

ChristinaC (@Kryftina)

We do see many women here giving f2f talks & workshops on tech/elt. I think encouragement starts during training and shapes further during practice. 

Community is certainly very strong here and there is great support, both from associations and individuals 🙂

jenjdobson (@jenjdobson)

There’s quite a lot of healthy debate currently about positive discrimination in ELT. I ‘grew up’ as a young adult in a 1980s London culture when this was the norm in my work circles. Am slightly perplexed why people don’t get it. #elttechwomen

Also use #womenintech just got retweeted by @womentechbot created by @sarahmorris926. Maybe outside of ELT they can give us some insights?

 

 

Diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of Conduct

Diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of ConductAdd subheading

After this incident my life changed completely. Now, I actively give talks about the real Iran and the Iranian people behind the news, and blog about the Iranian identity at https://beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com/. I am dealing with smiling depression and social anxiety. To heal myself and learn how to respond to micro/macroaggressions, I participate in events/workshops on harassment. I became an active member of JALT GALE SIG. I joined SIETAR Japan. So, I am trying to create something positive out of a horrible experience.

BTW, I added “An Equity Advocate” to the title of my blog, and a couple of emojis to my Twitter account! I also tweet randomly and quite irrelevantly about the unseen Iran!

I just finished writing a report on Gifu JALT event in January 2018 about diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of Conduct, which was developed due to several unpleasant incidents at JALT conferences (including the incident that happened to me –> That was the reason I did not quit JALT and decided to stick around and make little changes, and I am pushing myself to feel belonged to JALT, as inclusion is not the same as involvement).

Gifu JALT

Here are my sketchnotes:

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p.s. Recently, I have realized that there is no “JALT National Conference” but there is a “JALT International Conference”! Well, it is time to dispel stereotypes about JATL, too 😉 I am working on that 🙂

Here is the link to the report in JALT GALE Newsletter:

http://gale-sig.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Spring-Gale-Newsletter-2018-May-16-FINAL-small-5.31.pdf

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The ELT Movements I Support

I’m a conference goer, and I’ve decided to put the logos of the following movements on my poster or in my last slide and introduce them to my audience. I contacted them and they kindly allowed me to do so.

  1. ELTtoo To raise awareness against harassment & bulling in ELT
  2. TEFL Equity Advocates and Academy To speak out for equality in ELT
  3. EVE: Equal Voices in ELT To recognize both gender and NNS/NS parity in ELT conferences and events

Here is my last slide at the Tottori JALT event:

Being an Iranian Woman Today

Yesterday I contacted EVE and asked about PanSIG2018’s plenary speakers’ line-up. I am happy to announce that PanSIG2018 qualified for a purple (the Gender Balance) EVE and was included in the EVE calendar:
JALTPanSIG2018