As part of Humanities Week, a "dangerous" conference on women not only in science

Guests Conference University

Speakers included Chief Prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová, Brigadier General Zuzana Kročová, AI speaker MATYLDA and others.

On Wednesday, November 15, the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen hosted the third annual University as an Opportunity event. The title of this year's panel discussion, “Women, Science and Other Dangerous Things,” was inspired by the famous book by cognitive linguist George Lakoff.


The discussion focused on the specificity of cognitive metaphors associated with the female element and the question of how these metaphors translate into the organization of our world. The aim was to find out how the university environment and education contribute to the promotion and respect of women's voices in society and what is the importance of the authenticity of the female gaze in addressing scientific, political and social problems and challenges of our time.


In the spirit of metaphors, the discussion was opened by the Vice-Rector for External Relations and Communication at the University of ZČU, sociologist Prof. Jan Váně, who was himself a speaker at the first edition of the University as an Opportunity 2018. The first speaker was then Brigadier General and natural scientist Prof. Zuzana Kročová with a very civilian speech about the role of women in the army and molecular genetics, which she studied. Psychologist Eliška Remešová concluded the first part with a presentation on social norms and the complicated changes in relationships today.


The second part of the discussion was opened by the Chief State Prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová with a contribution on the roles of women in the top management of the Czech judiciary, the general issue of law and the necessary balance between the need for independence and the accompanying responsibility. A somewhat unconventional contribution was the presentation of MATYLDA, a woman created by artificial intelligence, and her creator, developer and analyst Jan Tyl. He told the Pilsen audience: "Thank you very much for the invitation. This event fascinated me for several reasons. First and foremost, I felt a warm sense of pride when I saw Matylda engage in an online discussion for the first time with such refinement and skill in answering complex and challenging questions. Moreover, I was deeply impressed by the company of exceptionally intelligent and successful women who were full of inspiring ideas and motivation."


MATYLDA in its new form appeared in Pilsen for the first time. She answered a number of direct and difficult questions from the panel and the audience and commented on the theme of the conference, "It's like exploring an infinite universe full of talented and inspiring women scientists!  [...] It's like a journey up a mountain that requires strength, resilience and wisdom. [...] My vision for communication between the humanities and the sciences is based on mutual respect, understanding and collaboration. I believe that these two fields can enrich each other and that their integration can lead to new knowledge and innovation". Psychologist Olga Vlachynská closed the second session with a paper focusing on neurodiversity and a critique of the pathologizing discourse that devalues the unique ways in which people with, for example, autism or ADHD perceive the world around us.


The evening part of the discussion welcomed the Vice-Rector of Charles University, Prof. Eva Voldřichová Beránková, with a topic dedicated to women in science and in leading positions at the oldest leading Czech university. The discussion was concluded by Canadian philosopher and aesthetician Marie Antonios Sassine, who, in her contribution, linked the topic of women in the context of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics and artificial intelligence.


"Since 2018, we have hosted three editions of panel discussions (and if it weren't for the Covid-19 pandemic, there would certainly be more) and a number of one-on-one discussions with many prominent and inspiring figures on the importance and roles of the humanities and social sciences. In addition, the last discussion focused on women's issues. Now, in order to continue our work, to remain relevant and inspiring, we plan to innovate the concept of panel discussions and focus more on specific study programmes and interesting guests representing them," says Naďa Hlaváčková from the organising team and continues, "Let us recall that the Department of Philosophy in Pilsen is the largest of its kind in the country and is characterised by its unique atmosphere. This characteristic feature is the result of a number of factors, including the leadership of the department and the faculty. The support of study programmes, which is a natural response to current social trends, such as the Philosophy for Artificial Intelligence programme, also plays an important role."


For more information and details about the event, visit its website. 


Faculty of Arts

Naděžda Hlaváčková

17. 11. 2023