About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 5856-5862
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

INTERDISCIPLINARITY AS A WAY TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING

V. Chizzola, L. Veronesi

Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) (ITALY)
In the field of gender studies, and specifically in the context of differences in cognitive abilities between the sexes, a stronger propensity for interdisciplinary work and cooperation is attributed to women. This propensity is often linked to a different learning style as well as different work preferences and career choices. An interdisciplinary approach is seen as a “horizontal” approach to analysis between the disciplines, equally tying various fields of study together. This is seen as a more complete mean of understanding than that allowed by a single field of study. Therefore, from a conceptual point of view, an interdisciplinary approach can be seen as a more open approach, allowing the creation of connections to the ‘other’, to what is different and outside of what is known. The presumed ability of women to associate with the ‘other’ is attributed, by recent psycho-cognitive studies, to the fact that the female brain seems to be ‘programmed’ for empathy, while the male brain seems to be more suited for the understanding and the elaboration of structures. Furthermore, according to some current studies in neurophysiology, women's greater propensity for empathy (and relationships) is attributed to the peculiar physiology of the female brain that presents a greater quantity of white matter – associated to the ability to create connections – than the male brain.
This propensity has been confirmed by an empirical study conducted by the Bruno Kessler Foundation, a multidisciplinary research organization headquartered in Trento, Italy. The study was conducted on 310 researchers by means of a structured questionnaire. Data, analyzed through multivariate techniques, seem to validate, as the studies previously cited, the common belief and show that women researchers (coming both from the humanities and the techno-sciences) are more curious and more inclined to collaborate with research fields external to their own. This trend, confirmed both by researchers' attitudes as well as by their manifested behaviors, could prove the advantage for women to try to further career goals. This is especially true given that the field of research is heading more and more towards interdisciplinary projects.
Our contribution aims at:
1) clarifying the meaning of the concept of “interdisciplinarity” and its relationship with the concept of “relationality”, highlighting the key scientific theories that show the women propensity towards collaboration with different fields of study;
2) presenting the results of the research conducted in the FBK, clarifying the items which
were investigated;
3) confronting the above mentioned scientific theory and the outcomes of the FBK study with the results of neuro-scientific studies on brain plasticity, understood as the brain capacity for modification in response to environmental stimuli. Such studies have weakened the divide between the sexual/biological differences and those due to the acquisition of cognitive abilities as a result of social factors.
@InProceedings{CHIZZOLA2011INT,
author = {Chizzola, V. and Veronesi, L.},
title = {INTERDISCIPLINARITY AS A WAY TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {5856-5862}}
TY - CONF
AU - V. Chizzola AU - L. Veronesi
TI - INTERDISCIPLINARITY AS A WAY TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 5856
EP - 5862
ER -
V. Chizzola, L. Veronesi (2011) INTERDISCIPLINARITY AS A WAY TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 5856-5862.
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