MAKING shiFt HAPPEN: Privileging the voices of women in academia through creative and scholarly exchange

Year: 2019

Author: Black, Ali, Dwyer, Rachael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The aim of many conferences, including AARE, is to provide spaces for researchers to engage in forums, discussion, ideas and the sharing of research. Such spaces are considered vital for the development and dissemination of academic ideas, and the building of academic careers. But who is not here? Research around gender and academia highlights how opportunities to attend and participate in traditional academic conferences are often out of reach for women with caring responsibilities, or for casual staff, research students and other marginalised groups.

Imagining new possibilities for women’s collaboration and access, in February 2019 we co-convened a conference for female academics, MAKING shiFt HAPPEN, focused on creating safe and caring spaces for slow scholarship and connection. For 36 hours we used video-conferencing technology to facilitate a fully-virtual non-traditional and transdisciplinary exchange for women academics around the globe. The virtual nature of the conference supported the planet and responded to the problems many women face attending traditional conferences. It supported the mobility of researchers, offering flexible, affordable, sustainable and inclusive options for women in academia to engage with meaningful ideas and with other women locally, nationally and internationally.

We use our presentation to explore our motivations and learning about creating environments focused on care, collaboration and creative resistance. We examine the role our conference played in removing barriers, reimagining academia and enabling women. And, reflecting on the contemplative, kind and flexible approaches we enacted, we consider the affordances of virtual gatherings for supporting cultures of listening, knowledge exchange, inclusion and connection.