Focus on IWD: Ihnji Jon

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning is shining a light on the integral work and careers of a selection of our staff. Ihnji is a lecturer in International Urban Politics. She studies planning/urban governance theories, disaster resilience, and feminist science and technology studies (STS).

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Who has been influential in guiding, supporting, or mentoring you?

Finding good mentors and supporters is not necessarily finding just one person who can give you all the answers. It is more about having genuine intellectual connections. Good mentors take their time crafting their answers to your questions, even when they seem banal and frivolous. Good mentees take their time in elaborating their questions, by engaging with what they can find or know in their capacity. Real connections can happen only when both parties are sincere and genuinely interested in ideas—which is what academia is all about.

Do you have  any strategy that you can share with us which has helped you in overcoming challenges in your career? 

I think that exchanging ideas should be at the heart of an academic career. I draw inspiration from my ‘reading friends’ – these are people who I ‘click’ with academically. They understand where I am coming from and they remind me of why I enjoy being an academic. Recently, I’ve met some new reading friends through emails and twitter. I liked their work and contacted them, we ended up talking about what we have read and it turned out that we have the same taste in authors. Now we are organising a conference session together.

What is one piece of advice that you can share with women in academia and the built environment on how we can shape more inclusive workplaces?

Advice should be given to the institution and the system (and not individuals).  Academic institutions should be more adamant about workplace sexual harassment caused by differences in power dynamics. Objectification of women in workplaces—the fact that we women as a social group are often seen as biocentric objects, not as humans with ideas —is the most common and sickening burden that women face daily in their professional life. This has to change; we need to have uncomfortable questions and tough discussions at the institutional level.

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