Imperfect Bodies of Research

Imperfect Bodies of Research project, visual art, human anatomy and research

It is well documented that female researchers face many gender-based concerns and challenges within the workplace such as gender bias, lack of promotional opportunities and lack of support for work/family balance.  Beyond the workplace there are social pressures to be socially and physically perfect, exacerbating the problem.

These issues impact a woman’s confidence and creativity in the workplace, stifle risk taking in their research and can affect their wellbeing.

To target these challenges, ANU Medical School’s Dr Lillian Smyth an early career researcher, along with Associate Professor Krisztina Valter, Associate Professor Alexandra Webb and Ms Elisa Crossing from ANU School of Art and Design, are running an interdisciplinary workshop series that allows female-identifying researchers to blend learning and activities in visual art, human anatomy and research process, in a low risk, safe space.

This innovative initiative aims to build confidence and creative thinking, while encouraging researchers to think differently about the research process. The workshops also aim to engage with broader gender-based concerns around the need to be perfect and fit in, particularly with regard to the human body and research work.

The team will measure the value of this type of workshop for researchers, in terms of engagement with creativity, confidence and wellbeing with the intention to adapt the workshops to become a professional development tool, in future.

The series will conclude with an exhibition of participant work, in November, so participants can celebrate their successes in a public forum. Details about the exhibition will be made available closer to the date.

This project is funded by the ANU Gender Institute.