Yvette Solomon ESRI, Manchester Metropolitan University • Women’s self-positioning as ‘not belonging’ (Solomon 2007) • ‘Doing mathematics is doing masculinity’ (Mendick, 2006) • Girls and women in mathematics ‘are required to don a cloak of invisibility that affords them temporary status as honorary males in a male domain, speaking a male mathematical language’ (Walls, 2008) • Mathematics is a particular case of storying the self • It illustrates how voice, contradictions, and hybridity can be understood in terms of agency and becoming • Challenges in analysis of the interview – ‘Cherry picking’ versus ‘analytic rigour’ – Avoiding a static picture of identity – Recognising the role and place of the interviewer as co-constructor • Bakhtin and Holland present theoretical lenses which draw attention to – – – – – Contradictions and hybridity Agency within apparently predetermined spaces Diachronicity and the becoming self Struggle and resolution Appropriation of, and resistance to, language in the interview • Roz was not allowed to take ‘A-level’ (post-compulsory) mathematics, because she had ‘only’ got a B at ‘O’ Level (age 16 examinations) • She went back to studying mathematics to support her three sons at school • At 44 she went to a ‘post 1992’ non-research-intensive university, where she gained a 1st class degree in mathematics • At 47 she went to a prestigious research-intensive university to study for a masters degree and then a PhD in mathematics • At 52, she was a post-doctoral researcher at the same university • I have interviewed her four times: Her second year undergraduate Third year undergraduate Beginning her PhD In the first year of her post-doc • We have talked about her ongoing mathematics career, the past, present and future, her family, her parents and being a mother • Dialogism – consciousness is ‘otherness’ • Addressivity – we are constantly in the process of addressing and answering ‘others’ • “The word in language is half someone else’s” • Heteroglossia – multi-voicedness • The space of authoring – the narrativised self • Recognition of power and position – positional identities (drawing on Bourdieu) • Orchestration of conflicting voices • Hybridity in the enactment of self • Ventriloquation by ‘authoritative discourse’ • Rupture and resistance • ‘World making’ (drawing on Vygotsky’s idea of play and imagination) An essential (constitutive) marker of the utterance is its quality of being directed to someone, its addressivity… [The] addressee can be an immediate participant-interlocutor in an everyday dialogue, a differentiated collective of specialists …, a more or less differentiated public, ethnic group, contemporaries, like-minded people, opponents and enemies, a subordinate, a superior, someone who is lower, higher, familiar, foreign, and so forth. And it can also be an indefinite, unconcretized other....(Bakhtin, 1986, p. 95) I always feel like I’m struggling, I always feel like I’m trying to aim higher than I can really achieve and somehow I get there, I don’t know how I get there. If you’d told me three years ago I’d get a masters degree from X university I’d have laughed in your face, if you had told me 5 years ago I was going to do a degree in mathematics and get a first I’d have laughed in your face ..... because I think when people say negative things about my ability those are the things that typically I retain. [YS: so it stuck?] Oh yes, very much so.... Every time I struggled with something this voice would come back you know ‘you’re no good at maths, you won’t do it, you won’t cope’, that was their words, ‘if it was more like O level then you’d be fine but it’s not..’ ...[but ] I will believe that I can’t do it when I try and fail, so I kind of believe it but I need the evidence... I’m now doing a PhD and I’m convinced that I can’t do a PhD I’m convinced that I will embarrass us all [laughs] but at the moment it’s not happening. [At the master class at the university] I really had a paradigm shift sitting in that lecture, hearing about some operational research to do with how they optimise airline schedules. And for the first time ever I realised maths could make people’s lives better. I mean I always thought that mathematical research was all about people inventing harder and harder sums to make people’s lives more miserable. And to have this idea that actually maths can describe the world and make it a better place for people, was just completely blew me away – and that’s really where it started, that’s why I’m here now I think. The everyday aspects of lived identities … may be relatively unremarked, unfigured, out of awareness, and so unavailable as a tool for affecting one’s own behavior. … [But] Ruptures of the taken-for-granted can remove these aspects of positional identities from automatic performance and recognition to commentary and re-cognition. (Holland et al, 1998 pp.140-141) This disruption happens on the collective level as well. Some signs of relational identity become objectified, and thus available to reflection and comment…. Alternative figurings may be available for interpreting the everyday, and alternative ways of figuring systems of privilege may be developed in contestations over social arrangements. (pp.141-2) … it was almost always one of the five of us who got the got the top marks, we used to call ourselves the A team.... but I think there is a certain element that likes to be competitive in the men whereas when we were a little group we worked together ... and I could genuinely be pleased when X got more marks than I did ... so long as one of us got it, it was in the family... I’m not kidding myself, of that little group I was not the top, I mean I’m the one who’s gone on to do postgrad at the moment but that’s just the way things happened really, any of them could do it probably better than I could if they wanted to. So ... there isn’t the same competitive edge, I don’t feel competitive.. • The word in language is half someone else’s…it exists in other people's mouths, in other people's concrete contexts, serving other people's intentions: it is from there that one must take the word, and make it one's own (Bakhtin, 1981, pp. 293-294). • Language is not a neutral medium that passes freely and easily into the private property of the speaker’s intentions; it is populated – overpopulated – with the intentions of others. Expropriating it, forcing it to submit to one’s own intentions and accents, is a difficult and complicated process. (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 294) Within the arena of almost every utterance an intense interaction and struggle between one’s own and another’s word is being waged, a process in which they oppose or dialogically interanimate each other. The utterance so conceived is a considerably more complex and dynamic organism than it appears when construed simply as a thing that articulates the intention of the person uttering it, which is to see the utterance as a direct, single-voiced vehicle for expression. Consciousness finds itself inevitably facing the necessity of having to choose a language. With each literary-verbal performance, consciousness must actively orient itself amidst heteroglossia, it must move in and occupy a position for itself within it, it chooses, in other words, a ‘language’. (Bakhtin, 1981, p.295- 354) There was a lady, the only time we ever had a lady lecturer ..... everybody hated her ..... because she didn’t dress properly. And this was a big thing for a lot of the girls, she looked like she was just doing her housework .. she was wearing flat shoes or trainers with socks and trousers which didn’t quite reach her trainers … When I started lecturing … I thought “it’s important to them that I dress professionally and I see myself as” – you know – females are underrepresented in mathematics anyway, so … people must understand they don’t have to give up being a woman to be a mathematician … • ...the voices, the symbols, are socially inscribed and heteroglossic. Often the voices are in conflict… These voices will have to be put together in some way. • In a situation of heteroglossia different languages and perspectives come inscribed with differing amounts of authority, which suggest how they might be orchestrated. • In Bakhtin, escape from being ventriloquated by first one then another authoritative voice comes through the orchestration of and adoption of stances toward these voices… (Holland et al pp178-185) I have a theory – The Essential Difference by Simon BaronCohen? .... I did the tests and I have a male brain … maybe because I have a male brain I was not picking up the unspoken signals of my female group [at school]. … When I got to [university], majority male, I was completely in the right place and all of a sudden it was OK to be me. Because the backdrop is majority male, then I’m female in that context, but if I’m in with a lot of very feminine women then I’m not. ...because I’m in a male context my femininity looks like femininity whereas if I’m in a very female context I feel like the man almost ... I feel at the male end of the perspective, I’m thinking analytically, I’m thinking ..‘does that really hold?’, this kind of thinking process, analysing things, and I really can’t get excited about shopping I really can’t and I can talk about fashion for maybe three minutes. ... It really is trivial ... with men that really doesn’t come up and the things that they talk about are really interesting. One can significantly reorient one’s own behavior, and one can even participate in the creation of new figured worlds and their possibilities for new selves, but one can engage in such play only as a part of a collective. … The space of authoring, or self-fashioning, remains a social and cultural space, no matter how intimately held it may become. And it remains, more often than not, a contested space, a space of struggle. (Holland et al, 1998, p.282) 21 • What are the possibilities for becoming? • How does liberation from the particular determinations – the entrapments – of our cultural worlds come about through the tools shaped in those worlds for their perpetuation? (Holland et al, p. 64) • … persons and, to a lesser extent, groups are caught in the tensions between past histories that have settled in them and the present discourses and images that attract them or somehow impinge upon them. In this continuous self-fashioning, identities are hard-won standpoints that, however dependent upon social support and however vulnerable to change, make at least a modicum of self-direction possible. They are possibilities for mediating agency (p. 4) • .. the ‘metapragmatic’ capability to figure social practice – through narrative, drawing, singing, and other means of articulation – is at the same time a capability to figure it otherwise than it is. (p. 143) • “Activity predicated upon a figured world is never quite single, never quite pure. It is dialogized, figured against other possible positions, other possible worlds.” (Holland et al, p.238) • Bakhtin’s emphasis on the ever presence of multiple voices means that there is always potential for new meanings. • I argued in 2012 that Roz’s overt struggle in choosing a language suggested a potential for new meanings. • Roz’s story as constructed with me wasn’t fixed; the act of telling became part of her story as it happens, and entered her past – so how did she self-author afterwards? Recurring themes: • Being a feminine mathematician – “I coordinate my lanyards with my outfit” • Making the world a better place New themes: • Being a good mother • Changing the department culture I don’t think I’m very good at relationships (...) I read … what’s it called … Simon BaronCohen – The Essential Difference. Made a lot of sense to me … and I’m definitely a systematiser. And I think that … well I think an explanation which really satisfies me, which I don’t necessarily claim to be absolutely true … is that I don’t pick up the unspoken social cues that generally girls have. So I was always violating some unspoken rule or other, making me unacceptable … but I didn’t even know what that was. And so coming to that conclusion really released me from the angst of why did I never have friends when I was a child. I think women are generally accepted in mathematics as you know … you know they can be good mathematicians too … but I think the ones that are, tend to be very frumpy in their dress, they tend to be very masculine in their dress. It’s almost as if they’re still trying to hide their gender…. And there’s a young lady, and she’s absolutely delightful, but … she wears glasses and not contacts, she puts her hair in a ponytail, no make-up, always sort of jeans and a top … not a particularly feminine top, just a regular T-shirt. … you know I don’t in any way disrespect her choices, but I just think well maybe she feels the need to do that, either consciously or otherwise. I thought … you know there’s a part of me that wants to be dressed like a proper woman as well, but there’s also this kind of thing going on that actually you know I want to show that I can be a proper woman and I can dress … I could wear heels and I can wear a skirt and dresses. … the women I’ve met here who are a similar age to me, they tend to be quite aggressive. And I think that if I’d gone into maths at that [earlier] age I’d have had either very sharp elbows or I’d have crashed out. But I don’t want to become like that … and I recognise that they’re only responding to their environment, but I think the world’s moved on a bit … I’m hoping it has anyway … and I hope that I can … you know I can be gentle … as well. That’s what I’m hoping for, and I think maybe the self conscious - making sure that I dress like I would if I was an office receptionist or something like that is part of wanting to be like that… ... I want to start things that I think are good. I don’t want to leave a legacy for legacy’s sake, but I like to change things for the better...… I’m in a place where people think that my social skills are valuable, and .. I keep getting invited to do things because I am who I am ... and this is very nice… … I tend to become a bit of a hub now … and I’m the person who cares about the fact that there should be cohesion in the department and relationships should be built, and the new person should feel welcome … even though I wasn’t … and all this kind of stuff. So I think I found my niche. Because in a more empathetic setting, I would probably be the person who would be behind on those things. But in a sort of setting like this, I can then flourish. … I can actually be very feminine here. One of the things I was doing is comparing statistical mathematics and machine learning for tailoring treatments to patients. … making people’s lives better. And now it’s … networks for food security decision support. So I’m helping … I will be helping both people who are suffering a food crisis, and also the decision makers …. So again there’s a very strong people element. And we’re working with people from Politics, people from Social Sciences, people from Life Sciences as well – crops and so on. So again very multidisciplinary, very practical, down to earth. … I love coming in to work – it’s because of the people element. I think the next battleground is to be seen as a competent mathematician and a proper lady at the same time. … I want to assert my right to dress like a woman and still be taken seriously as a mathematician ... The self authors itself, and is thus made knowable, in the words of others…. If, to be perceptible to others, we cast ourselves in terms of the other, then we do that by seeing ourselves from the outside. …authorship is a matter of orchestration: of arranging the identifiable social discourses/practices that are one’s resources in order to craft a response…. Human agency comes through this art of improvisation… The histories that give shape to spaces of authoring… are thus… compulsory and liberatory, in degrees that vary greatly. In answering (which is the stuff of existence), the self “authors” the world – including itself and others. … Because the self is the nexus of a continuing flow of activity and is participating in this activity, it cannot be finalized… (Holland et al, pp. 173 & 272). There is neither a first nor a last word and there are no limits to the dialogic context (it extends into the boundless past and the boundless future). Even past meanings, that is, those born in the dialogue of past centuries, can never be stable (finalized, ended once and for all) – they will always change (be renewed) in the process of subsequent, future development of the dialogue. (Bakhtin 1986, p. 169) "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. "Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry."