Forum theatre as a tool for unveiling gender issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) working environments

Maciel, Susanne Taina Ramalho; Gomide, Caroline Siqueira; Silva, Thatianny Alves de Lima; Alcântara, Gustavo Braga; Kern, Cynara; Andreoli, Elisabeth; Senna, Lyvian; Evangelista, Leandro de Oliveira

Gender affects all aspects of life, and the working and learning environments of science, technology, engineering and geosciences present no exception. Gender issues concerning the access, permanence and ascension of women in exact sciences and Earth sciences careers in general are related to a variety of causes. The underrepresentation of women in science communications, sexual or moral harassment caused by professors and colleagues during undergraduate and graduate ages or the overloading of girls, when compared to boys, with housework during early school ages are some examples mentioned in the literature. In other words, the gender imbalance in science and technology careers may be seen as the result of a series of structured oppression suffered by women of all ages. In this context, we propose the development of an education package that is designed to understand these processes at different levels. One of the tools of this package is known as the “Theatre of the Oppressed”. Elaborated on by Augusto Boal in the 1970s, the Theatre of the Oppressed uses theatre techniques as a means of promoting social and political changes. Usually, a scene takes place that reveals a situation of oppression. The audience become what is called “spect-actors”, where they become active by exploring, showing and transforming the reality in which they are living. In the context of gender issues in exact sciences careers, the students can stage situations that reveal the subtle actions of power relations that usually put women in subservient positions. Our experience showed that, even though the acting is based on fiction, the spectators learn a great deal from the enactment because the simulation of real-life situations, problems and solutions stimulates the practice of resisting oppression in reality from within a setting that offers a safe space to practise making a change.

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Maciel, Susanne Taina Ramalho / Gomide, Caroline Siqueira / Silva, Thatianny Alves de Lima / et al: Forum theatre as a tool for unveiling gender issues in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) working environments. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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