Dr. Eden Hennessey is a social psychologist who researches and mobilizes knowledge related to diversity promotion and discrimination reduction. Her most recent work assesses the consequences of confronting gender bias in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Eden advocates for equity and inclusion on university campuses, and combines arts with data to impact world-wide audiences. She is deeply committed to her work as the Manager of the Student Centre for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Wilfrid Laurier University and as the Research and Programs Director of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science (WinS).
If you had to explain what you do to a five-year-old, what would you say? I ask people questions about their thoughts and feelings about different topics, including girls and women in science. I take these answers and use statistics to figure out if there are differences in how people think or feel depending on who they are. Understanding how people think and feel is important because the more we know, the better our decisions can be.
What’s one issue/recent news story you think we should know about? One recent news story that we should all know about is the release of the book Know My Name by Chanel Miller, who was sexually assaulted by a Stanford athlete. Her victim impact statement was read by millions around the world and her story is now available in her own words and highlights the challenges and successes of confronting sexual violence publicly.
What’s next in your work? I’m about to launch my third photo-research exhibit featuring incredible girls and women in science. This series provides a platform for scientists to communicate a message that they are passionate about and questions how and why certain people are present or absent around decision-making tables.
What question do you wish people would ask you and what’s your answer to that question? I wish people would ask ‘why’ in relation to everything. While I may not know the answer, asking why is a step toward critical thinking in all aspects of life. When people ask me ‘why’ questions, this usually leads to a deeper conversation and the opportunity to share evidence and research across different groups.
Hear more from Dr. Hennessey about the work she does. Join us October 22 for Equal Are We, a conference jointly hosted by YWCA Cambridge, the City of Cambridge and Conestoga College. More info here.