Visiting professor to discuss philosophy of diversity, scientific excellence

Alachua County Library District and UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere are bringing philosopher Carla Fehr to Gainesville for two events discussing recent research linking workplace diversity and scientific excellence. 

Community members, business owners, scientists, professionals and others are invited to discuss the factors contributing to the absence of women in certain professions, and how this hinders excellence and innovation in the workplace.

The first event is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 at Millhopper Branch Library and the second event is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at Ustler Hall Atrium at UF. 

At 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 at Millhopper Branch Library, Fehr, a philosopher of science and technology and professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada, will draw on research in psychology to discuss how popular arguments that paint women as coy, nurturing and passive contribute to male domination in certain high-powered professions. Fehr will break with these popular accounts by explaining how improving workplace diversity leads to improved decision-making.

At 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at Ustler Hall Atrium at UF, Fehr will speak specifically about the role of women in academic science and engineering research. Her research has shown that diverse scientific communities produce more rigorous results than less diverse communities because they explore more paths of explanation. Consequently, the underrepresentation of women in scientific professions has a negative impact on research outcomes. 

Fehr’s visit is part of a public speaker series entitled “Rehumanizing the University” to bring research in philosophy, history, English, anthropology, and classics to bear on important issues in universities and university communities. She is a co-Principal Investigator for ISU ADVANCE, a $3.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study workplace equity and conduct diversity training to promote the advancement and retention of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

“Perspectives from philosophy are vital to understanding the changing objectives and ethical implications of scientific research and technology development,” said center Director Bonnie Effros.

Fehr is the Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Waterloo, where she conducts research on the social structure of scientific communities. Prof. Fehr has published in numerous journals and edited books, and holds two awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

For more information on these and future talks in Rehumanizing the University, visit