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2018 Edinburgh Medal Awarded to Cordelia Fine

Posted: 08 March 2018

This year the Edinburgh International Science Festival is absolutely thrilled to award the Edinburgh Medal to Professor Cordelia Fine for her work on challenging gender perceptions in science and her contributions to society’s understanding of gender stereotypes.

Professor Fine is a well-renowned psychologist, author and professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and it is through her meticulously debunking of the popular notion Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and constructive criticisms for scientific literature that she is well deserving of the Edinburgh Medal.

Scientific claims and beliefs have long shaped our views on why gender inequalities exist and have been used as ammunition in disagreements about the desirability and feasibility of change. Yet for Prof Fine, neither the brains nor minds of men and women are fundamentally different, and mantras such as Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus are often used to explain and justify continuing gender disparities within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) fields and beyond.

It’s not a simple issue to tackle though. “I think if there were just a few simple steps we’d have solved this problem by now,” she says. “After all, every one of us wants opportunities in science to be based on merit and ability and few discriminate consciously. It is just incredibly difficult to overcome the schemas and to shift the structural factors that perpetuate inequality.”

For Professor Fine, it’s about by opening the door to all scientists, we can do better science.

During the Edinburgh Medal Address at City Chambers on Wednesday, 4 April at 7pm, Professor Fine will discuss science, values and gender equality. As part of Professor Fine's win, the National Library of Scotland will have a small number of items relating to Professor Fine and her work on display from March 31 until April 30. Please check the website for details on opening times.

The Edinburgh Medal is a prestigious award awarded to scientists who make a significant contribution to our understanding of humanity. Instituted by the City of Edinburgh Council in 1988, previous Edinburgh Medal recipients include Professor Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough, and Professor Peter Higgs. Please see here for all previous recipients.

It’s a tremendous honour to win the Medal, says Professor Fine, and a “wonderful recognition of the importance of the work of scientists – often women – that I write about in my books and draw on in my academic research, who have progressed science by challenging long-held assumptions about the sexes and asking different research questions”.

Two of Professor Fine’s books have been recognised and awarded for their insight into gender perceptions. Her latest book Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of our Gendered Minds was named 2017’s science book of the year from the Royal Society.