Beverley Diamond

“Re” Thinking: Revitalization, Return, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Indigenous Expressive Culture.

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Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond

TO THE ARTS, CITIZENS! : Social Mediation through the Arts

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Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah

Society Matters: why should we value the Humanities?

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James Bartleman

Residential Schools: Have we forgotten our responsibility?

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Weaver, Johnson and Chuenpagdee

How Do We Build Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change?

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Gérard Bouchard and Graham Fraser

Pluralist Societies: what's their future?

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David Adams Richards

Threatened Identity: what do we lose when we lose the sense of place?

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Chief Shawn Atleo

First Nations Education: Can we afford to miss out?

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Antonine Maillet

Giving voice: Who speaks for the forgotten?

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Andrew Weaver, climatologist

How can Canadians keep their cool in a warming world?

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climate change panel

Sexism in the online gaming world

Trevor Pritchard, Freelancer

If you ever thought video games weren’t an appropriate subject for hardcore academic research, Congress 2011 should set you straight.

I had the chance to speak with Kelly Bergstrom, a graduate student in education at York University and one of a handful of presenters at this year’s conference who are exploring how gender gets constructed in online gaming communities.

A life-long gamer herself, Bergstrom is exploring the experience of female gamers at, an online news aggregator that gets about eight billion page views per month. She’s taking part in a June 3rd panel with two other researchers, Florence Chee and Alison Harvey.

“Even though we’ve made so many steps forward, gaming is still painted as a boys’ club,” Bergstrom says when I ask why such work is important. “There are women who play, and I think we should be past the point where you have to hide the fact you’re a woman who plays online games.”

Bergstrom plans to present an overview of how so-called “girl gamers” are represented on She’s particularly interested in the site’s many user-generated “rage comics” - short, crudely-drawn cartoons that have become a popular internet meme.

Not surprisingly, in the gaming forums, female gamers have ended up being the target of those comics, and the comments that follow them, says Bergstrom. In one comic she plans to share at this year’s conference, a male gamer vents his anger after finding out the video game job he’d interviewed for went to a woman instead.

“I find them fascinating and I’m sure the other researchers will find them fascinating,” Bergstrom says.

While she doesn’t want to paint all male gamers with the same brush, in the online sphere, women  are often portrayed as either annoying hangers-on or mythical “unicorn-like” figures. Those sexist, reductive definitions relate to her wider research interests: unpacking why the online gaming world has developed a reputation of being  a “non-female space.”

And if that can be unpacked, the answers might shed light on why women are also less likely to go into certain fields like science, mathematics, or engineering, she adds.

Photo courtesy of wlodi from Flickr


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