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Katta Spiel (Part 2) on neurodivergence & different ways of being and knowing
Episode 1510th January 2024 • Changing Academic Life • Geraldine Fitzpatrick
00:00:00 00:38:06

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Dr Katta Spiel is an Assistant Professor at TU Wien, a recent ERC Starting Grant recipient, and a good colleague of mine. In part two of our conversation, Katta discusses being neurodivergent, and experiences with ADHD, and being an activist for change with an example of how gender is dealt with in research, and about 'epistemic plurality and the importance of making space for different ways of being and knowing. They conclude by advocating for respectful curiosity about individual experiences and allowing others space to perform their best work. They also argue for a lab culture where personal needs can be discussed and respected, suggesting this encourages more open dialogue and a supportive environment.

This conversation picks up from Part one where Katta shared their experiences on topics like career uncertainty, proposal rejections, coming out as queer, chronic health issues, being successful, and notions of normativity. 

Overview:

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:56] Personal Journey with Neurodivergence

[00:06:42] Strategies for Navigating Neurodivergence

[00:10:05] Dealing with a world not made for Neurodivergence

[00:15:39] Creating a Supportive Environment for Neurodivergence

[00:20:12] The Intersection of Neurodivergence and Activism

[00:26:19] Embracing different ways of being and knowing

[00:33:27] Final Thoughts on Neurodivergence and Inclusivity

[00:35:44] My final reflections

[00:38:06] End

Related links:

Katta's personal web pageTU Wien web pageLinkedIn page, and announcement about their ERC Starting Grant

Gender paper: Katta Spiel, Oliver L. Haimson, and Danielle Lottridge. 2019. How to do better with gender on surveys: a guide for HCI researchers. interactions 26, 4 (July-August 2019), 62–65. https://doi.org/10.1145/3338283

Hanne de Jaegher https://hannedejaegher.net



This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy

Transcripts

Geri:

Welcome to Changing Academic Life.

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I'm Geraldine Fitzpatrick, and this is

a podcast series where academics and

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others share their stories, provide

ideas, and provoke discussions about what

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we can do individually and collectively

to change academic life for the better.

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Welcome to part two of

my conversation with Dr.

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Katta Spiel.

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Katta is an assistant

professor at TU Wien.

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And, also a recent recipient of an ERC

starting grant, which in the European

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context is a very prestigious grant.

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And Katta's also a very good colleague

of mine for a number of years.

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In part, one of my

conversation with Katta.

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They talk about their experiences

around career uncertainty as

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a postdoc before they got this

current tenure track position.

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And other issues like dealing with

rejection of proposals coming out as

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queer dealing with chronic health issues.

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And we end up there talking

about normative approaches

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to technologies and bodies.

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We go on here in part two where

Katta talks about their personal

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journey with being diagnosed

with ADHD, being neurodivergent.

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And what it's like negotiating

living in a world that doesn't really

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make space for different ways of

knowing and different ways of being

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and for different types of bodies.

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And also talking about, being an

activist and feeling that sense of

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injustice around many of these issues

and trying to make that difference.

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And ending with an encouragement

for us all to be curious about the

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different ways of being and knowing.

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So.

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enjoy part two of this conversation.

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It brings up this notion of what we

assume is normative, approaches to

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all sorts of things, whether it's

Academia, gender filling in on forms,

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goals for fitness trackers and so on.

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Yeah.

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And you also talk about

being neurodivergent.

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Yes.

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And I, I'm sitting here watching Katta,

do cross stitching as, as we're speaking.

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Katta: Yeah.

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In this case, yeah, um, now, I've been

doing that recently again, um, because I

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felt it was more portable than knitting.

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Um, so, this is something that

accompanies me actually my entire,

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like, school career and life.

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When I was, uh, in primary school,

in second grade, I was apparently so

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hard to handle that they gave me books

to read and were like, this makes no

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sense how you retain anything else.

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But like, apparently it went

better when I read books in class.

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Then I was like more attentive.

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Um, and that like was The case for

the longest time that I was just

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reading books in class and then

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Geri: while listening to the

teacher Yeah, whatever concept

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they were trying to explain.

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Katta: Yeah, and then

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Geri: so again the normative

account of what attention is

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Katta: And then during my whole studies

I was knitting Basically, once I dare to.

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Um, and, uh, and I didn't even know

I was neurodivergent at that point.

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I just did these things.

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And now I just know what the reason for

that is, but I still do these things.

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Maybe sometimes I allow

them more readily to me.

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Because, like, I guess I would try and,

and I, I would try and get through, like,

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student meetings without doing that.

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But now I just keep telling my students,

like, I will pay more attention and be

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more concise and more helpful for you

if you let me do a thing next to it.

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Yeah.

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Like I will make more sense to you.

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We will have a better relationship

and it will just be a better

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interactive experience for you.

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Mm-Hmm.

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. And it's actually surprising me

even like how well that is accepted.

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I mean, I also openly talk about it.

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I think it's really important to

kind of like for students to have

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that, I don't wanna say role model,

but like you are kind of put in

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that position, so you have to.

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Just like, whether you want or not, you

just have to kind of like, relate to that.

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And, it does, there is a special flex in

being like, I have a learning disability.

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Geri: So, how do you characterize

your neurodivergence?

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Like, learning disability?

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Katta: No, but that's how it's

Characterized from the outside, right?

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Mm-Hmm.

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. And then I play with that.

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Mm-Hmm.

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. But I see it as a difference.

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It's just a difference of processing,

of engaging with like, I mean,

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dopamine levels are, as far as

I understood, dopamine levels

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are, uh, lower, for example.

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And there are like neurological

differences, but I don't wanna like, you

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know, value that one way or the other.

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I do identify as disabled due

to like a bunch of things.

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Um, and that being one of them.

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But that's more in terms of like

how I encounter a world that expects

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me to be different than how I am.

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And that's also how I identify

disability ultimately.

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So, yeah.

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And with that, yeah.

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I do, like, with the learning

disabled, that's just a flex, right?

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Because like, that, that

kind of is supposed to show.

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the irony behind defining it as such,

because I'm like, in this classic

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academic context, I seem to be

successful enough to kind of like reach

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a stage where this becomes ironic.

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I mean, it's helpful with like, I

raise a child and like, um, when I

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meet other parents and they keep on

being like, Oh yeah, we have like,

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we're discussing ADHD and whatever.

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And, and they don't necessarily

know that I have ADHD myself.

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I can come out and be like, yeah, well,

I have an ADHD too, and it's fine, and

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I work at a university, and they're

like, you can see how they just relax,

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like, immediately, of like, oh god, my

child can have academic success and all

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that, and then I try to explain, you

know, some strategies that might help,

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either from personal experience or from

literature, and like, ultimately, just

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working with the child, I guess, um,

and how they can learn, and usually,

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that, if you manage to have That as a

source of dopamine, then like learning.

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Then you call them.

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Geri: And you do?

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Katta: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Yeah, studying again.

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Geri: Studying again.

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Yeah.

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Yeah..

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So what, what are some of the

strategies that have worked for you?

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You've already talked about doing

something with your hands while

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you're talking or listening, you know,

what other ways have you been able

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to work with, who you are and your

particular ways of engaging in the

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world to achieve this level of success

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Katta: If only I knew.

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No, it's not quite as like I

do some things that I guess.

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I mean, I know of a lot of strategies

of how you plan yourself because I

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tried a lot and they have usually not

stuck and I have to change them all

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the time and how I structure my life.

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But that means I know a lot of ways of

structuring my life, which is useful to

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students, I guess, because, like, I can

make a whole range of different offers.

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I'm like, You could try this.

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It doesn't work.

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You could try this.

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I mean, I I've been through a lot.

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And it keeps on changing.

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I've recently tried now with another thing

and it's like, you know, that's fine.

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I have accepted that about myself, that

nothing will work and, uh, only, uh, or

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only if I do everything, so to speak.

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Like, at some, at different

points, different things will work.

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That is maybe the more

positive way to phrase that.

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But also, um, yeah, it's, uh, I have

trouble like, you know, making choices

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between roughly equally important

things and that's really hard because

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then, then deadlines are motivators,

of course, like, cause the urgency that

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something takes does factor in, but

sometimes it has to be really, really

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urgent to, to kind of, like, kick in.

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Um, and you don't want to have that and

you don't want to sit around either.

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But like sometimes there's

paralysis of like, what do I do now?

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Because like emails, are they important?

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Or is like this other thing

important that will put me in a

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better position in the long term?

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Or like, how do I do this?

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How do I do that?

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Is this important now?

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Actually, you should be continuously

doing this so that, you know,

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for example, I do actually try

and update my CV once a month.

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So that I don't have to do

it all at once because I know

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that would even be worse then.

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But you know, some months I just

like move it to the next month as

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a task because like it doesn't feel

that much, like, that relevant.

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But, um, still.

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Sometimes it's just difficult

and then I roll a die.

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And so I have different

ways of rolling a die.

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I have physical die.

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I have a die app on my watch.

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I have a die app on my phone.

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A serious, a serious rolling a die.

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I have a Python script on

my computer that helps me.

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Yeah, I'm not into gambling, but

for that I do have a lot of die.

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And then I have like intricate systems

of like what specific numbers mean.

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And like I still haven't figured

out, like cause I use six

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sided die for the connoisseur.

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But like sometimes I

did not know all this!

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Yeah, I see.

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Um, hiding it well.

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No.

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Um, but like I have a six sided

die and um, I uh, I still haven't

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figured out well how to deal

with it when I have five options.

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But I still feel that is the best die.

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12 sided die might be better,

but like for now, 6 sided die.

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I've been, been holding on to

that for like at least 15 years.

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So that is the most stable

thing that I've done.

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Just like rolling die all the time.

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Geri: I mean, across all that you've

talked about, would it be fair to say this

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has been a journey of self acceptance?

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Getting to know yourself,

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Katta: I mean, I got diagnosed

late ish, like, um, I think I was

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30 or so with ADHD, with ADHD.

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Yeah.

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Um, or a bit earlier, but

like around that time and, um.

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And to an extent, yeah, self

acceptance, but like, it wasn't

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even about self acceptance, but

more like accepting, accepting that

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the world isn't made differently.

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Like, cause I have, there's this question

when you get diagnosed or whether you

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have an, an exaggerated need for justice.

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First of all, I don't think you can have

an exaggerated need for justice because

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either you have a need for justice or

you don't, but like, it's not, that is,

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that is kind of black and white, right?

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Like, you know, what is justice then

like more nuanced, but like, whether

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you are for it or not, it's not

necessarily like, what is that even?

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Like, anyway, um, but, uh, Besides

that, completely weird question, um,

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it was interesting, um, Because that,

that, that is also like sometimes where

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drive comes like of like, oh, this

isn't fair towards me and then like,

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or towards someone else or whatever.

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And I mean, that's a driver

for change and a lot of like

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source for a bunch of activism.

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But, um, but kind of like accepting that

I have to find a way of dealing with that.

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Yeah.

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Um, because like, it will be

even more unfair if I keep on

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trying to change something that I

cannot or like figuring out like.

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Or trying to change my way of like

engaging with that to a point where,

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you know, and I had some, some bad

strategies apparently developed

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over the years as well, like, um,

which are just not necessarily super

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helpful then for me or anyone else.

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And we're, and so what the diagnosis

brought was kind of like going

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from reacting to acting more.

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Um, like I kept on saying.

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back then, um, that to an extent, uh,

medication allowed me to figure out how I

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could be the person that I wanted to be.

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And not just like, you know, trying

to survive in some kind of state.

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Um, and that's kind of

a big thing, I guess.

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Geri: Cause you did talk about

being quite reflective before in

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terms of strategies and what's

going on and What's a priority now?

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Very deliberately thinking

through these things in a way

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that maybe many of us don't.

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Katta: Well, because like

Because we stay reactive.

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Oh no, I was like,

because I have to, right?

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Yeah.

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Because it's not going to be

happening implicitly either.

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Geri: I don't know whether this is

the right way to ask the question,

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but then What strengths has this

given you or highlighted for you

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Katta: Well, to an extent, the thing

of like, you know, staying curious.

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Like, I'm definitely not

necessarily what you would call a

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specialist in like only one area.

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I'm like more of a generalist.

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I'm not super generalist,

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So I think I'm more, I have the

advantage of drawing on more things,

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like in keeping by necessity, um,

so to speak, uh, more threads.

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Uh, in parallel, and so I sometimes see

connections that are not that available to

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others, at least it seems, but also like

others have access to connections that I

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don't necessarily have and, and I'm very

appreciative of them sharing them as well.

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Like, this is not, I'm not

trying to say like, you know,

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um, that this is only a me thing.

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It's, it's very much like,

happening in other cases as well.

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Uh, and, um, besides that, uh, I do see

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I mean, ultimately, um, it's just like

I had to make this work for me, but

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also like ultimately everybody has to,

I mean, to some extent it's easier or

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like it's, I guess it's easier or not

as easy for others, but I actually don't

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have any insight into that as well.

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So I don't know necessarily how to talk

about this without being too presumptuous.

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Um, Because, like, people have their own

struggles and, um, and then I have a lot

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of students who are just neurodivergent

and so we do share the same kind of,

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like, insights, but, um, but even with

those who at least do not identify as

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neurodivergent, I feel like there is,

like, you know, collaboration at some

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point and, like, they, um, I mean, that

might just be the group that has been

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kind of, like, Amalgamizing around me.

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But like, yeah, I don't know.

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I don't want to be presumptuous and

I feel like everybody has to work

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around getting this thing to work.

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And I, um, I maybe had to do

it more explicitly than others.

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Sometimes it feels certainly that way.

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Or I might just like have no

filter and talk about it all

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the time or what have you.

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Geri: So you don't operate in

a vacuum, of course, you know,

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you're part of this group.

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I remember.

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sitting at my table in my office

where you said, Oh, by the way, I'm,

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you know, I'm queer or whatever.

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And, and also talking about when you

were diagnosed with ADHD, what did I do?

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What did we do that was good and

supportive for you in that position?

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And what could we have done?

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What could I have done

that could have been?

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better or more supportive.

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Katta: You took a whole lot of

time until you learned my pronouns.

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Geri: Well, and I can't

believe I misgendered you here.

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I thought I was doing really well.

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And I, , I remember saying to you,

you know, like I've had 60 years of,

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Conditioning, for a particular way of

speaking and it's taking a while, but

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Katta: You can decide whether you

leave that in, but there was this

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moment where you were at some retreat

in Canada that was led by a non

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binary person and you came back and

basically tried to explain how being

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non binary is to me and I was like, wow.

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I felt a little bit like,

you know, I prepared you for

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this, let's say it that way.

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That was a moment.

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But like, see, that I can say these

things, and like, I mean, you can decide

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whether you leave it in or not, but um, I

can say these things, that is a, like, I

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feel like you just like, you didn't have

to understand things to make them work.

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And so, for example, What I really

appreciated, I had this nervous breakdown

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at one point before I was diagnosed,

right, when I was sitting in your office

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and was basically like, I can't do this

anymore, I am doing a PhD, I only have one

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thing to do, I don't know what is wrong

with me, but like, I cannot, it's, it's

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breaking me, quite literally, like it

was really bad, and I think I cried even,

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like I had a full on mental breakdown.

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And you were just like, okay,

I have this other job for you.

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Like you, I guess you didn't understand

because like, I don't know, maybe you did.

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Did you understand before?

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I don't, I don't know.

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I'm now questioning everything.

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Yeah, exactly.

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Like, right, like I

didn't know what was up.

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Um, I was just like, Oh

God, I need another job.

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At least the second thing to do.

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And, cause I also did that all the time.

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Like, even during my studies, either

I studied two things or I was in city

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council as well or what have you.

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And.

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It was just, yeah, and you just gave

me another job and then I was like

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happier and later I got diagnosed,

but, um, but like these things of just

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accepting people without having the

need to fully, like, understand that

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and make sense of it for yourself and

like just being like, okay, this is

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what a person needs and I don't need

to, like, how can I work towards that?

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I think that is great in

terms of an environment.

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I just also needed to say something that

you didn't do well, because otherwise

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it would seem like I suck up to you.

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And

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Geri: I demonstrated it very

clearly earlier in the conversation.

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For people who are in research groups

who may be leading groups or whatever,

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do you have any particular advice

for them about how they might best

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support people who are starting to

recognize Whether it's neurodivergence

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or, um, gender diversity issues.

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Katta: Well, just like, yeah, doing that.

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Like, not trying to figure out

what it means for them actually

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beforehand, but like, rather being

in conversation and like, yeah.

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Um, like, um, taking, taking them

seriously when they say these things

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and not being dismissive about it.

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Um, yeah.

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Geri: Because they are life experiences,

like, you've dealt with such a range of

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things that you've just talked about, I

don't know, not, certainly not glibly,

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but you've just talked about as matter

of factly, rather, is probably a better

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word, that I have no experience of.

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And it sounds overwhelming to have

gone through all that, and in awe of.

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All that you've been all that you've done

and achieved and also more particularly,

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I think the contributions of what you've

given back because in the middle of all

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of the work that you've done to, to get

to the awards and the achievements and the

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grants that you've got the huge service.

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You know, you talked about

feeling like something's not

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fair, being a driver for change.

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You've been really active in

that You do do a lot of peer

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support and, also activism.

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You talked about writing an article,

like being upset about, the way gender

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is represented in papers and writing

an article about how we should talk

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or co authoring an article about

how we should talk about gender.

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Katta: That sounds almost prescriptive.

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So I didn't mean it

prescriptive, but like, yeah.

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Like, the main message of that article

is that people should think about,

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like, how, what they want to know

about gender, why they want to know

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it, and like, which groups, what is

the group conceptualization of gender.

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And then we make an offer that

will, like, you know, be useful for

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a bunch of, like, default cases,

but like, my main thing was always,

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like, you need to think about this.

347

:

Because also the language keeps

on changing and, um, the kind of,

348

:

like, good practices around that.

349

:

Yeah.

350

:

Geri: So it's more of an invitation

to people to really be much

351

:

more thoughtful and reflective.

352

:

Katta: Yeah, I guess.

353

:

Geri: And you also mentioned

that this was written with the

354

:

authors whose initial paper

355

:

Katta: you Yeah, with some of them.

356

:

Yeah.

357

:

Yeah, um, Daniela Lottridge and Oliver

Haimson were the co authors on that one.

358

:

Um, and they are two of

the original authors.

359

:

And it was just a paper where they kind

of, it's a very good paper actually.

360

:

I mean they show how, um, how different

groups conceptualize gender differently.

361

:

And so with the same way of asking gender,

in that case a free text form field,

362

:

they got wildly different responses

um, between fantasy football players.

363

:

Which is a thing that men

do in the US like cis men.

364

:

It's apparently very male coded.

365

:

I have no idea how that works.

366

:

I only from that paper, I

know that it even exists.

367

:

But, uh, and Tumblr users

who are notoriously queer.

368

:

Um, and so it was just like, you know, in

the one, in the first case, they got a lot

369

:

of like, but I'm a man, you can see that,

like, why are you even asking me that way?

370

:

And like, why is there a free

text, or whatever, silly answers.

371

:

And then the other one, there was like,

you know, nuance kind of like ways of

372

:

describing your gender and getting really

down to like a very like descriptive

373

:

way and even thank yous and all that.

374

:

Um, or like, you know, just the gender.

375

:

Um, but you had that kind of like palpable

difference between kind of being thankful

376

:

and, and for the opportunity to self

express gender and the other one of like,

377

:

why do you make me think that is a bit

mean as an interpretation on my end,

378

:

but like sometimes it feels like that.

379

:

Anyway, um, and that was really cool,

like how they showed that you have

380

:

to have nuance about these groups

and, um, and who you ask with, uh,

381

:

and who you are asking about gender.

382

:

Um, and then.

383

:

They come to, they came to the conclusion

that, um, you should have like female,

384

:

male, or men, uh, woman, man, and other.

385

:

And I was like, why do you

keep literally othering us?

386

:

Like, that's not necessarily a

great choice of words, uh, I feel.

387

:

And like, it got me, it was a bit

mad, cause like I, I like these

388

:

people and I was like, I expected

better from you, I thought you

389

:

had more understanding on that.

390

:

That was, I think, literally

something I said and they do.

391

:

And um, and then I really like that,

um, that revised, uh, recommendation.

392

:

First of all, it does

get a lot of attention.

393

:

That was not what I expected because

it's just an interactions article

394

:

that doesn't go fully through

peer review or anything, but, um.

395

:

But, uh, just that it also we have made

that part of like the article that you

396

:

have that continuous interaction, um,

with things, which is maybe something

397

:

that I should say in terms of like,

because I have the feeling that a

398

:

lot of people within our community.

399

:

So how do I phrase that?

400

:

So I've also been publicly

attacked or semi publicly for

401

:

being like, you know, for being

discriminatory towards white men.

402

:

Um, which, uh, which I'm saying

in this tone because that is

403

:

not how discrimination works.

404

:

But, um, Anyway, uh, I've been attacked

for that publicly and I also sometimes

405

:

encounter people who are like, Well,

of everything that I heard of you, it's

406

:

surprising that you're such a nice person.

407

:

Which I'm like, first

of all, I'm not nice.

408

:

But also, like, I'm not

sure what they heard.

409

:

Because like, it always comes up,

I was like afraid of meeting you.

410

:

And I'm like, why though?

411

:

Because like, I'm not sure.

412

:

But it seems kind of like, there

seems to be an image around.

413

:

That, you know, where I'm just

overly critical about things.

414

:

And I do express critique pretty

bluntly and pretty harshly.

415

:

That's fair.

416

:

But it's always towards the thing, right?

417

:

Like, that doesn't mean that

I'm not willing to talk.

418

:

That doesn't even mean

that I mean that I'm right.

419

:

But I do feel these things very strongly.

420

:

And so I do kind of like put them out

there very strongly in the ways that I,

421

:

you know, kind of like engage with them.

422

:

But that doesn't mean that those are

fixed or like set in stone either.

423

:

And like sometimes I feel it

doesn't come across that there is

424

:

more flexibility attached to that.

425

:

And I am not sure how to fix

that or whether it needs fixing.

426

:

But yeah, I think this article

particularly is a good example of

427

:

what can happen when you, when you

engage with critique that was brought

428

:

upon very bluntly, um, in a, in a

productive way that I think was then

429

:

beneficial to all of us ultimately.

430

:

Geri: So I I previously hadn't I, hadn't

ever thought about other as othering.

431

:

For me, it was good gesture

about non, like recognizing that

432

:

there are more than two genders.

433

:

So I guess it's a learning

journey for all of us as well.

434

:

Yeah, that's fine.

435

:

I sort of also feel like a lot of

this is changing as we go along and

436

:

as we're all learning and norms are

changing and cultural differences.

437

:

Katta: There are articles that I wrote

where I describe autism in ways that

438

:

make me feel ashamed about myself.

439

:

Yeah.

440

:

And now it is.

441

:

And like, this is fine.

442

:

I do, like, it's not fine.

443

:

It's not fine, um, in that regard,

but like, I also look at that and I'm

444

:

like, Okay, if I wouldn't have the

need or kind of like the feeling that

445

:

I would have done better since then.

446

:

Like.

447

:

What would it mean if I wouldn't

be ashamed of some of the things

448

:

that I did earlier because that

would mean that I've never developed

449

:

either and I haven't learned.

450

:

Yeah, and so I'm looking forward

to be ashamed about this interview.

451

:

Geri: Yeah , well, and I think that's

a really important point for all of us.

452

:

You know, like, we're human and

we're on a learning journey together.

453

:

And how do we Make space for all sorts

of people and ways and working out how to

454

:

practically do that how to talk about it

455

:

Katta: But like in the words

of Hanne De Jaegher, just

456

:

like letting them be as good.

457

:

Mmm.

458

:

Yeah It's also how they can do their

best work I feel no Yeah, like just

459

:

experiencing that with some of my students

who have made who like appreciate and,

460

:

just letting people be is, I think, a

good way of allowing them to, um, to do

461

:

their best work and kind of engage with,

with like the knowing part of it all.

462

:

Because like, the thing is, like, I

talk about this activism and I talk

463

:

about all these things, but ultimately

to me, that is also about kind of the.

464

:

fancier said, like epistemic plurality of

like the different ways of knowing because

465

:

like these different bodies have just like

different ways of engaging with the world.

466

:

And if we wouldn't have that space for

these different bodies, we would lose

467

:

out on so many perspectives and within

like, you know, within more classical

468

:

terms, you could describe that as

triangulation and like just like making

469

:

sure you have these different insights

and like these different ways of engaging.

470

:

And that ultimately makes for better

research and for better science.

471

:

And that is like my driver there as well.

472

:

Like, it's not just like, you

know, Oh, justice is great.

473

:

Justice is great, I guess.

474

:

But like, also, um, it's just,

this is the job that we're doing.

475

:

Oops.

476

:

Geri: So that knock at the door

was for, your next meeting.

477

:

So in, in looking at wrapping up, um,

I don't know, I feel like you have

478

:

so much to talk about and so much to

share and your openness about who

479

:

you are, your generosity and sharing

that, The fact that you are straight

480

:

and direct and that you challenge us

helps us all to be better and helps us

481

:

all to be in different ways as well.

482

:

And I think that there are probably

10 million other things that

483

:

I will want to have asked you.

484

:

But what are the things that you

would like to say just in wrapping up?

485

:

Katta: I don't know.

486

:

Like, I know, um, like, I feel, I

said, like, I didn't go into this,

487

:

like, with a particular agenda

of, like, sharing this or that.

488

:

I think it's, um, I think if

there's anything, then it's kind

489

:

of like, you know, um, that, that

people shouldn't be afraid about.

490

:

Figuring out who they are, because

like, that is actually a nice

491

:

thing to, to kind of like, do, no?

492

:

Mmm.

493

:

Like, also, um, Also like,

recognizing when that might differ.

494

:

Uh, no, not even that.

495

:

Like, when that, I was just

thinking, like, recognizing when that

496

:

differs, because that was one of the

motivators, like, after my diagnosis.

497

:

So then, kind of like, two things.

498

:

But no.

499

:

Maybe also just be curious about who these

other people are, to an extent, right?

500

:

Like,

501

:

Geri: Respectful curiosity.

502

:

Katta: Respectful.

503

:

Like, um, because there are kind of

like questions that are invasive.

504

:

But, oh, I wanted to, previously I

wanted to add, like, there are a bunch

505

:

of people who make experiences that I

have absolutely no idea how that is.

506

:

Um.

507

:

For example, like, I am hearing, so I

don't have any kind of insight into how

508

:

a deaf lived experience is, but also,

I have never been pregnant, and I will

509

:

never be pregnant, so, like, I don't

know how that is, and that seems like a

510

:

huge thing, I'm like, you know, kind of

like, you know, other people growing,

511

:

like, a life in their own body, that

must be hard, like, seems, seems like

512

:

a big thing, um, and, like, And, and

I'm bringing this example in particular

513

:

because that is so clearly something

that only specific people experience

514

:

and that we all have kind of a blasé

understanding about it as a difference.

515

:

And that is kind of like how I

wish that we would engage with

516

:

like how people are different.

517

:

Being a bit curious, being supportive,

but also like just like acknowledging

518

:

that that is the case and that's it.

519

:

Geri: I don't know if we have

time just for a quick comment.

520

:

One of the things that.

521

:

I feel is a tension is the thing of

the work that you've often talked

522

:

about needing to do to educate

people and, our response, people's

523

:

responsibility to be curious, respectfully

curious and educating themselves.

524

:

Katta: Yeah, but I mean, if

you have a culture at your lab.

525

:

Where you talk about your needs, right?

526

:

And where you accept those needs.

527

:

And where people feel free to kind

of like say, I don't know, actually.

528

:

Like, um, I mean we have people here at

the institute, which is great, who have

529

:

like the sign at their door, who are like,

if this door is closed then slack us if

530

:

you need anything but don't just barge in.

531

:

Because they need that space, but they

also feel comfortable just saying that.

532

:

And I feel like it doesn't

always have to be asking.

533

:

Um, it can just be accepting

and that letting be.

534

:

And, um.

535

:

But if you have a culture where people

can have the freedom to reflect on what

536

:

they need and then actually ask for it, or

kind of like, you know, set the parameters

537

:

so that they get that, that is great.

538

:

How to kind of like, you know,

actually facilitate that and like

539

:

how that makes it work, you are

much more the expert on that.

540

:

I'm just trying to emulate that.

541

:

Um, ultimately, yeah, just,

um, yeah, showing an interest.

542

:

Like it doesn't, like, at least the thing

is like if you do it strategically, so

543

:

to speak, I don't feel it makes sense and

then it, the whole purpose is gone again.

544

:

Mm.

545

:

Because I had that once, um, I had

a colleague who kept on asking me

546

:

questions about things that I had the

feeling that I, they had an answer and

547

:

they just wanted me to get there myself.

548

:

And, and I totally get

where that comes from.

549

:

And that is good advice that you

ask people to kind of like come to

550

:

their own solutions, but you also

need to be prepared that those

551

:

might be different from your own.

552

:

And they weren't necessarily always.

553

:

And so.

554

:

So, in that regard, like, that's kind of

like, you know, that's what I mean with

555

:

like, don't be too strategic about it.

556

:

It needs to come from a place

where you kind of like, you

557

:

know, just want to do that.

558

:

Um, where you are then kind of like with

this example, when you want to know about

559

:

these other answers that are out there.

560

:

Geri: So a lovely invitation

to end on for people.

561

:

I don't know, because we're all

different in different ways.

562

:

Yeah.

563

:

And some, you know, there's some

that maybe fit more of a normatively

564

:

oriented model than bodies and ways

of being, but whatever that might

565

:

mean, is there anything normative?

566

:

Katta: And again, like they

probably, probably not, right.

567

:

But like in terms of normative, but

like, that doesn't mean they had it easy.

568

:

That means sometimes they had like, um,

Like privileges are difficult to kind of

569

:

understand, but because like we're not

actively, or we're not necessarily taught

570

:

to actively reflect on them, or sometimes

it's just like something we notice.

571

:

Like car drivers don't notice the

entire infrastructure that is up for

572

:

them that we chose over public transit.

573

:

I mean, not here, but like, you

know, there, there's just access

574

:

provided in some ways and then

you often don't think about it.

575

:

To come back to that previous thing

and then you don't have to think

576

:

about it because it's just there

and then that friction of not being

577

:

afforded it is sometimes more palpable.

578

:

And, and, you know, a lot of people,

um, might not experience specific

579

:

kinds of access frictions, but that

doesn't mean that they experience none

580

:

or that, you know, um, their, their

struggles aren't relevant as struggles.

581

:

So I would sometimes.

582

:

Like to, um, kind of like have,

like I would like to see a

583

:

bit more solidarity sometimes.

584

:

So for example, with cis women, I

sometimes have the feeling that they,

585

:

um, that they limit the term of their

womanhood, but also like the term

586

:

of their solidarity in ways that are

unhelpful to everyone and then they

587

:

just reproduce patterns of power that

are harmful ultimately to them as well.

588

:

Or, um.

589

:

Or that sometimes we kind

of like try to override, um,

590

:

others experiences with our own.

591

:

Geri: Lots of food for thought.

592

:

Thank you very much, Katta.

593

:

Glad we finally did get

to sit down and chat.

594

:

Katta: And now you know about the die.

595

:

Geri: And now I know about the die.

596

:

And the six sided die,

that I didn't know that.

597

:

Great.

598

:

Thank you.

599

:

And that's the end of my

conversation with Katta.

600

:

So much food for thought there.

601

:

And what I find really amazing is

I've worked with Katta for years and.

602

:

I guess we talked here in a

way that we don't often talk

603

:

day to day and it reminds me.

604

:

That it's worth taking time to sit

down and chat with colleagues and

605

:

getting to know them in a different

way beyond the day-to-day conversations

606

:

that we might normally have.

607

:

And I love Katta's call out to us

just to allow people space, to be.

608

:

And embracing the fact that there

are very different ways of being

609

:

and knowing, And accepting that.

610

:

And that doesn't just mean about the

bigger labeled ways in the, in the neuro

611

:

divergent ways that, gender specific ways

that Katta has talked about Katta also was

612

:

very generous in pointing to ways that.

613

:

We're all different and have

different experiences that

614

:

we often don't think about.

615

:

So I leave that with us

as for myself as well.

616

:

As a prompt.

617

:

Just to be more reflective about the

ways in which we're all different.

618

:

And being curious about that in a

respectful, way, and in a way that's

619

:

about the curiosity, aiming to allow

the space for people to be themselves.

620

:

And as Katta said, where

they can do their best work.

621

:

You can find the summary

notes, a transcript and related

622

:

links for this podcast on www.

623

:

changingacademiclife.

624

:

com.

625

:

You can also subscribe to

Changing Academic Life on iTunes,

626

:

Spotify and Google Podcasts.

627

:

And you can follow

ChangeAcadLife on Twitter.

628

:

And I'm really hoping that we can

widen the conversation about how

629

:

we can do academia differently.

630

:

And you can contribute to this by rating

the podcast and also giving feedback.

631

:

And if something connected with

you, please consider sharing this

632

:

podcast with your colleagues.

633

:

Together, we can make change happen.

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