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UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Daphna Joel

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 2 December 2022

***12/12/2022: Please note this talk will now take place online. Zoom details below.***

Rethinking sex, brain, and gender: Beyond the binary

Prof. Daphna Joel

Are the brains of women and men the same or different? Or maybe it’s the wrong question? In the past decade we applied several analytical approaches to study the relations between sex and the brain. These analyses revealed that group-level differences between women and men in specific brain measures rarely add up consistently within individuals to form ‘male’ or ‘female’ brains. Instead, most brains are comprised of both features that are more common in women and features that are more common in men. This is also true of human psychological characteristics – humans possess unique mosaics of feminine (more common in women compared to men) and masculine characteristics. Further studies revealed that the brain architectures typical of women are also typical of men, and vice versa, and sex category provides very little information regarding how one brain will differ from or resemble another brain.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Prof. Daphna Joel.

Prof. Daphna Joel is a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, at the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel-Aviv University. In the past decade she has been studying questions related to brain, sex and gender, using various analytical methods to analyze diverse datasets, from large collections of brain scans to information obtained with self-report questionnaires. She is also the author of Gender Mosaic: Beyond the Myth of the Male and Female Brain (Octopus, London).

This talk will take place online.
Dec 14th, 2022 1-2pm GMT.
Join Zoom Meeting:

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Karleen Gribble

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Mothers, Infants and Sexed Language: A Journey

Dr Karleen Gribble

In early 2022, I was co-author, with nine others, of a paper on the importance of sexed language in communications about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. The paper attracted a lot of interest and has had nearly 100 000 reads. It is being applied in diverse contexts including being cited in the UK parliament as underpinning policy on use of sexed language in legislation. The paper was responding to the trend to desex language and much of the discussion around this has focused on the impact of desexing language on women’s rights. However, my work is very much anchored in a child rights perspective. In this presentation I will describe how I came to the sexed and gendered language issue and how and why ‘mother’ is such an important word in protecting the rights and needs of children.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Karleen Gribble.
Dr Karleen Gribble is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Her interests include infant and young child feeding in emergencies, regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, child rights, caregiver-child and child-caregiver attachment, adoption reform, and treatment of infants within the child protection and criminal justice systems. She has published research, provided media commentary, contributed to government enquiries, provided expert opinion for courts, and engaged in training of health professionals, social workers, and humanitarian workers on these subjects. She is a member of the steering committee of the international interagency collaboration the Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Core Group and has been involved in policy development, training and advocacy in the area of infants and young children in emergencies since 2006. Karleen passionately advocates for recognition of the importance of mothers to their infants and works to create environments that support breastfeeding and the mother-infant relationship, particularly in situations of adversity.


Thursday 6th October 2022, 1-2pm, face-to-face seminar at UCL Institute of Education (room tbc).

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2022 – Katie Alcock

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 20 September 2022

Children’s Understanding of Sex and Gender

Dr Katie Alcock

Children of preschool and early primary age often have poor understanding of logic and this extends to concepts of sex and gender, and often leads to younger children displaying more stereotyped preferences and behaviour than older children. I will discuss the literature on this aspect of development including how this applies to children with autism and what other influences may affect this.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Katie Alcock.
Dr Katie Alcock is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University in Developmental Psychology, specialising in typical and atypical language and cognitive development. She is particularly interested in what makes children different from each other, including language, culture, health, and developmental conditions.
Date: Tuesday 29th November 2022, in person SIG Seminar 13.00-14.00 GMT (Room C3.09IOe 20 Bedford Way)

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Deborah Cameron

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 24 February 2022

‘Use the right words’: verbal hygiene and feminist politics

Professor Deborah Cameron

Both conservative and progressive movements have a long history of engagement in verbal hygiene, attempting to influence the use of language so that it aligns with their beliefs and values. In this talk I will focus on the ways in which progressive movements, including feminism, have sought to regulate language-use in pursuit of political goals, looking at the forms their interventions have taken and the questions or problems these may raise. ‘Use the right words’ may be a familiar exhortation, but determining what ‘the right words’ are is a more complicated matter than it might look.


UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Deborah Cameron.


Deborah Cameron is a professor in the Linguistics Faculty at Oxford University. Her research focuses on the relationship between linguistic and social phenomena, and she has published numerous books and articles about language and sex/gender, including one aimed at non-linguists, The Myth of Mars and Venus. She has also written a short introduction to feminism for Profile Books, and is the owner of the blog Language: A Feminist Guide.


Date: 16th March 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT
A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Use the right words’: Verbal Hygiene and Feminist Politics


UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2022 – Sara Dahlen

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 2 February 2022

Sex or gender identity? Practical and ethical implications for medicine

Dr Sara Dahlen

Clear communication on sex and gender identity in medical contexts can be challenging. Clinicians may note variation in understandings of these terms, or policies that appear to downplay the relevance of biological sex. This talk explores practical and ethical implications of conflicting language around sex and gender identity in medicine, with focus on potential healthcare consequences, especially for women’s health.
UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Sara Dahlen.
Dr Sara Dahlen is a PhD student at King’s College London, researching the ethics of sex and gender in the context of an emerging reproductive technology. She studied Pharmacology at UCL, Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and  Bioethics and Society at King’s College London.
Date: 17th February 2022, 14.00-15.00 GMT

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2021 – Michael Biggs

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 14 October 2021

‘Queer Theory and the transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’

Dr Michael Biggs

An intriguing property of social theory is its potential, when put into practice, to alter the world to resemble more closely the model posited by theory. This self-fulfilling character has been shown for theories in disciplines that emulate natural sciences, like economics and psychiatry. I argue that queer theory too has the power to remake the world in its own image, using the case of prison policy in England. The notion that sex is merely the performance of gender helped to shift the criteria for incarcerating males in women’s prisons: from genital surgery to legal status, and then to gender identity. The implementation of queer theory enables us to unpack two distinct meanings of gender performance: dramaturgical, where the individual gives off the appearance of femininity or masculinity through body modification, clothing, and gesture, and illocutionary, the individual’s verbal claim to be man or women. This case demonstrates the impact of queer theory on institutional policy and elite opinion, even under a Conservative government.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Michael Biggs.

Dr Michael Biggs was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (in New Zealand) and Harvard University, and is now Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of St Cross at the University of Oxford. His research concentrates on social movements and political protest, ranging from the labour movement in the 19th century to the London riots of 2011. He has recently become concerned with the transgender movement’s encroachment on academic freedom and undermining of evidence-based medicine. He is a director of Sex Matters and serves on the advisory board of the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine. 

Date: 7th December 2021, 14.00-15.00 GMT

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Queer Theory and the Transition from Sex to Gender in English Prisons’


UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Autumn Term 2021 – Lisa Littman

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 15 September 2021

‘Psychosocial Factors and Gender Dysphoria: Emerging Theories’

Dr Lisa Littman

Over the past 15 years, there have been striking changes in the numbers and characteristics of individuals seeking care for gender dysphoria. In this presentation, Dr. Lisa Littman will review the basics of gender dysphoria, describe recent trends in patient demographics and clinical approaches to gender dysphoria, and explore the potential role of psychosocial factors in the development of gender dysphoria through a series of three studies.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Lisa Littman.

Dr Lisa Littman is currently the President of the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research (ICGDR) and has previously held academic positions at the Brown University School of Public Health and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Date: 7th October 2021, 2-3pm

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Psychosocial factors and gender dysphoria: emerging theories’

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Summer Term 2021 – Helen Johnson

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 25 May 2021

UPDATE (1/6/21): please note this talk has been rescheduled to Wednesday 30th June, 2pm

‘How prostitution myths are linked to all our lives as women’

Dr Helen Johnson, director of Stand Against Sexual Exploitation (SASE)

This talk not only unpicks some of the myths of prostitution but also uses this as a lens to understand the lies and myths we are peddled as women more generally – and how it speaks to our relationships, power, and sense of possibility. The talk suggests that accepting the reality of prostitution instead of these myths actually helps us to be more positive and hopeful about both men and women instead of the tired old accusations of being ‘prudish’ and ‘anti sex/men’.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Dr Helen Johnson.

Dr Helen Johnson is a policy researcher working on issues related to women’s equality in law, policy, and the third sector. Her work has focused particularly on exiting and desistance within prostitution. Helen is a qualified barrister and holds a PhD in Criminology, for which she investigated the needs of service users and how institutions can provide emotionally intelligent services. 

When: June 30th, 2021 14:00-15:00 London
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2021 – Bec Wonders

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 1 April 2021

‘Complicated Sisterhood: negotiating socialist feminism in the second wave periodicals Red Rag and Scarlet Women

Bec Wonders, doctoral researcher, Glasgow School of Art

The Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s and 1980s in the UK saw a surge in women’s publishing that generated a networked feminist communications circuit in the form of newsletters and magazines. These periodicals functioned as essential forums through which to develop and disagree on their political positions. The letters and editorials reveal that the internal debates and disagreements with which second wave feminists were grappling still remain contentious today.

One such site of contention was the attempt by socialist feminists to give both socialism and feminism equal concern, based on the broad conception that the oppression of women was situated within the struggle against capitalism, and therefore some argued that men could (and should) be included in the women’s movement. This was met with suspicion and hostility from radical and revolutionary feminists, who understood the specific nature of women’s oppression as being rooted in male domination and autonomous feminist organising as necessitating the exclusion of men.

However, not all women fell neatly into one camp or the other. Several periodicals created space for this tension to unravel, the most notable of which are Red Rag: A Magazine of Women’s Liberation (1972-1980) and Scarlet Women: Newsletter of the Socialist Feminist

Current (1976-1982). While significant differences exist between the two publications, both featured disagreements in the form of editorials and letters that demonstrate the existential workings-out of what each periodical should be and how it could act as a bridge between socialism, Marxism and feminism.

These examples may demonstrate to feminist scholars and activists today how print-based networks provided a necessary space for negotiating feminist conflicts about collective working, and how to bridge ideological positions and strategies. Moreover, these records facilitate the creation of intergenerational coalitions between women by placing our contemporary negotiations in a temporal continuum that follows on from the struggles of second wave feminists and resists the historiographical model of the repetitive jump-starting of feminist generations.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Bec Wonders.

Bec Wonders is a feminist researcher in the field of feminist conflict, the Women’s Liberation Movement and feminist publishing networks at the Glasgow School of Art. She earned a Masters in Publishing at Simon Fraser University and co-founded the Vancouver Women’s Library. Currently, Bec runs Frauenkultur: an online archive of second wave feminist writing. Bec is also a freelance illustrator and printmaker. Her work can be found at www.becwonders.com.

When: Apr 28, 2021 14:00-15:00 London

A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Complicated Sisterhood: negotiating socialist feminism in the second wave periodicals Red Rag and Scarlet Woman

UCL Women’s Liberation SIG Spring Term 2021 – Callie H Burt

By UCL Women's Liberation, on 6 March 2021

‘Scrutinizing the US Equality Act: Context, Conflict, and Consequences’

Callie H Burt, Associate Professor, Georgia State University

The U.S. Equality Act, which amends civil rights statutes to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, passed the House in February 2020 with unanimous Democratic support. In current form, the bill would institute sweeping changes that would prioritize in-the-moment gender self-ID over sex for ‘sex-based provisions’, no exceptions. I situate the act in its sociopolitical and historical context, discussing the current status of LGBT+ protections in the USA as well as the historical development of the Equality Act, first proposed in 1974 (albeit in much different form). I describe the specifics of bill passed in the House, including the prior rejection of Republican amendments to the bill to allow some sex-based provisions, and the conflict between sex-based and gender-identity-based rights. I conclude by discussing alternatives to the act that would provide federal non-discrimination protections to LGBT people without undermining sex-based rights and the protected nature of women’s provisions.

UCL Women’s Liberation are delighted to welcome Professor Callie H Burt.

Callie H. Burt is an associate professor in the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA. Much of her research focuses on the developmental effects of social inequalities, especially the effects of social risk and protective factors in adolescence, from a biopsychosocial perspective. She has a longstanding research interest in sex differences and how these differences are shaped by gender as a social force, and the ways in which law and social policies reflect, reinscribe, or challenge these differences. She published a recent article on the US Equality Act in Feminist Criminology. More on Callie and her work can be found here: www.callieburt.org.

Date: 18 March 2021, 15.30-16.30 GMT

Register in advance for this meeting:


A recording is now available via UCL Media Central ‘Scrutinizing the US Equality Act: Conflict, Context and Consequences’ – Callie H. Burt https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/60775