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Bernal Lecture 2020

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, Mal B35

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The School of Science at Birkbeck invites you to an annual lecture in remembrance of Professor JD Bernal who was Professor of Physics at Birkbeck from 1938 and then became Chair of Crystallography in 1963. Established in 1968, this annual lecture commemorates the life and work of JD Bernal (1901-71), with a particular focus on structural biology, X-ray crystallography and, especially, the social consequences of science. We are delighted to welcome Professor Cordelia Fine (University of Melbourne) to deliver the 2020 Bernal Lecture on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Matter: Refining our debates about sex, brains and equality.'

Lecture summary:

Biological explanations of sex differences in human behaviour are to be found everywhere: from scientific articles; to bestselling self-help books, diversity and inclusion workshops and even a Hollywood movie. But researching, understanding and interpreting male/female differences in brain and behaviour is surprisingly difficult – and always controversial.  This lecture will explore some of the complexities and controversies – including claims that feminist critics of this field of research put politics before evidence and confuse equality with similarity. 


This is an hour lecture, closing with a drinks reception. 



Cordelia Fine is a professor in the History & Philosophy of Science programme at the University of Melbourne, and the author of 'A Mind of Its Own', 'Delusions of Gender' and 'Testosterone' Rex, which won the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book prize. Cordelia Fine is also the recipient of the Edinburgh Medal, a prestigious award that recognises scientists who have excelled in their field and contributed significantly to our understanding of humanity. She received the award for her work in challenging gender bias in science and for her contributions to public debates about gender equality. 


Please note that while this event is free, booking is required.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch by emailing  

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