Archive for category discrimination

Meet-a-Member: Dr. Jennifer Sarrett

Jenn-headshot (1)Dr. Jennifer Sarrett is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health, where she teaches courses in Health Humanities, Bioethics and Disability, and Mental Illness and Culture. Her work focuses on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they relate to culture, disability rights, and ethics. She began working in the field of autism and developmental 15 years ago as a special education instructor and consultant in the U.S. and abroad. With the objective of studying the role of culture in the identification, understanding, and treatment of autistic children, she obtained her PhD from Emory’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), a unique interdisciplinary program. Her dissertation compared parental and professional experiences of autism in Atlanta, GA and Kerala, India. Along the way she became interested in neuroethical issues related to I/DD, including international research ethics, human rights and I/DD, and the implications of emerging technologies for early identification and diagnosis. Her work is strongly influenced by the concept of neurodiversity, a scholarly and advocacy position that works to encourage acceptance of neurological differences, including autism, rather than seeking cures and strategies to normalize autistic behavior. Dr. Sarrett has published a range of articles, including the development of a more inclusive model of human rights centered on a consideration of autistic difference; the ways images of autism depict and promote damaging tropes about autism; cultural influences on the ways parents explain their child’s autism (Spring, 2015); and ethical issues related to international research on I/DD. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Violence of Assumed Violence: A Reflection on Reports of Adam Lanza’s Possible Autism

This blog post by Jennifer Sarrett was originally featured on The Neuroethics Blog.

Jennifer C. Sarrett started working with people on the autism spectrum in 1999 in Athens, GA while getting her B.S. in Psychology. In 2005, she completed her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education with a focus on autism from Vanderbilt University. She is currently a fifth year doctoral student in Emory University’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts working on her dissertation which compares parental and professional experiences of autism in Atlanta, GA and Kerala, India as well as the ethical issues the arise when engaging in international, autism-related work.

On Friday, December 14th 2012, the country learned of the mass shooting of 5- and 6-year-old children and several adults in Newtown, CT. By the end of the day, we learned that Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the heinous act, may be autistic. Although we now know that this is not the case, it has spurred conversations about the link between autism and violence. This mental illness guessing-game has become the norm in the wake of such tragedies. Jared Loughner and James Holmes may have been schizophrenic; Sueng-Hi Cho may have been depressed, anxious, and also possibly autistic; Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold may have been depressed and/or psychopathic. These speculations are understandable – the public yearns to understand the motives behind such acts and recognizes that good mental health and mass shootings are never coupled–however, the way these representations are presented to the community create stigma and blames others with similar disabilities.

Adam Lanza

In Media Madness:Public Images of Mental Illness, psychologist Otto Walh explains that the public does not get its information about mental illness from evidenced-based, professional sources, rather, “[i]t is far more likely that the public’s knowledge of mental illness comes from sources closer to home, sources to which we are all exposed on a daily basis–namely, the mass media.” [1] The media (i.e. news, television, movies, video games, popular literature) often provides these links casually but carefully. Reports may mention Adam Lanza had autism, but don’t make the causal link between this diagnosis and his crimes. Yet in the minds of readers, the association is made. Read the rest of this entry »

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Does this lab coat make me look fat? Response to sexist comments made during Society for Neuroscience

 

 

Here is my response to sexist comments made during the recent Society for Neuroscience conference. “Even more troubling than Maestripieri’s adolescent wailing is how some women have tacitly accepted his subjugating rhetoric. Rebuttals in which women say that they “know plenty of beautiful female neuroscientists” or insist, “Hey, I’m not ugly!,” miss the point to such a degree that even our advocates can’t advocate for us.”  The rest can be read here. I encourage you to weigh in and share your comments here or on The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

 

 

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Different Bodies & Different Lives In Academia: Why The Rules Aren’t The Same For Everyone

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an Emory PhD student in Sociology. She uses “mixed methods to examine why students choose for-profit colleges, if for-profit credentials are socially construed as legitimate, and what these interactions means for social mobility and labor outcomes across and within national contexts.” Tressie is a prolific and talented writer and currents holds a Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship at Emory’s Center for Women.

Below is a blurb from her recent blog post originally posted on her blog tressiemc. The overarching sentiment is a well-articulated personal experience of how “some rules are different for different groups of people” whether these rules are explicitly stated or not (which is usually the case).

“Part of professionalization in academia involves learning the unpublished rules of how to act, engage, and be an academic. Almost all of us, at some point of our training, is pulled aside and told the “real” rules of publishing, teaching, and cocktail mixers.

Minorities – be they ethnic, class, or gendered – sometimes don’t get the same level of counseling on such things. A lot of programs have sprung up to bridge the information gap. That’s a good thing.”

Read more here.

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Is a group advocating for women leaders discriminatory?

After launching a NEW Leaders Facebook group, I was posed the following question by a concerned neuroscience graduate student.

He said:

“If the field is largely pioneered and led by women, does it need an advocacy group biased toward women? Are the aims of “cultivating professional networks and skills for women” addressing areas where women are, in fact, deficient? I remain highly skeptical of explicitly discriminatory organizations unless they are aimed at addressing issues unique to the specific group.”

I said this in response:

“Hi XXX. Thanks for your concern. While the field is largely pioneered by women, this doesn’t mean that careers in the field won’t have the same problems women and minorities have in any field (i.e. finding similar opportunities as men, being paid as well as men, being able to find social networks and resources for professional growth to name a few–please see my article discussing research about this here: https://neuroethicswomenleaders.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/pregnancydisability/). Your argument resonates with those who say we don’t need affirmative action anymore too. While it’s true that women and minorities have made much progress, we have not overcome the historical narrative that still underlies the overall under-representation of women and minorities in (sustaining) positions of leadership worldwide in any field (including neuroethics). There are many cultural norms, even some that have been adopted and integrated into our own ideology and women, that we must overcome. The truth is women and men still aren’t on equal footing.And this is why we aim to address this challenge with an advocacy group. All fields deserve scholarship informed by a diverse set of world views and, unlike what you suggest, I would hardly think a field of exclusively women is any better than field that are almost exclusively white males. I encourage you to be open to learning more about advocacy groups for women and minorities, as you may have employees and students who will need advisors who are aware of the unique challenges that face us.”

This is just one of many examples of why we need NEW Leaders. I believe this is an important question that each of us should be able to address.

What do you think?

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