“We need to shift the image of a scientist from a man to the fact that it could be a woman too,” - Arina Pushkina, Science Slam

Arina Pushkina- General Director of the Science Slam Association. Graduated from Samara University named after S.P.

Queen. She worked as an HR manager at Raiffeisen Bank - Hungary, as well as at the Master Innovations company and as a project coordinator at RVC. Producer of the FANK festival of contemporary scientific films.

Science slam— battle of scientists in stand-up format.Young scientists will talk about their research in a witty, accessible and interesting manner. Each slammer has ten minutes, and the audience will determine the best one with applause. The project itself was invented in 2007-2008, and in 2010 the German Gregor Buening brought it to its current format - 5-6 speakers talk about their own research, each for 10 minutes. In Russia, the first scientific competitions within the Science Slam were held in 2012 in Gorky Park in Moscow, they were Russian-German, the first regular slam was held in 2013 in St. Petersburg.

"It all depends on the charisma of the scientist"

- Science Slam is a German format. When formats are imported, they usually change under the national characteristics of the country. Did something different from Germany appear in Russia?

— We have one striking difference - we allowedthe audience should ask questions after the performances. This idea appeared in Russia. In Germany they tried to implement it after Gregor Buening (founder of Science Slam in Germany - Hi-Tech) saw how cool it worked. But it didn’t work out at all. And for us, this is one of the favorite parts for the audience - they have the opportunity to clarify what they did not understand, criticize the speaker, or show how smart they themselves are.

- Who comes mainly to slam - people who go to the stand-up, or those who are connected by science?

- The main core of the audience is 18–35 years old, theymake up 79%. 30% of them are students in universities from the age of 18 to 24. The rest of the audience are just guys who are interested in learning what is happening in science, it is interesting to be in the subject or have the opportunity to say that they are in the subject - because then visited. There are a lot of IT people and guys working in the technology business.

- You have very different topics. Is it possible to say that some come better and some worse, or does it all depend on the speaker’s charisma?

- I, of course, believe that everything depends on the scientist's charisma. But our speakers joke that if a biologist or a physician is involved, then you can immediately give up and not even try.

- Why is that?

- That they are joking about the fact that the audience is interestedlisten to yourself and your body, about treatment methods or something else directly related to a person. And doctors and biologists are always well find contact with the audience. It seems to me that they also love the humanities, because there are not so many of them, and our humanities are not as developed as the technical and natural sciences. It is sometimes harder for the humanities to say exactly what they did in this story. Technical guys easier - that they came up with a new device. And the humanities need to somehow explain that this is not just a retelling of an article from Wikipedia, but it was they who added something, changed it and invented it. And due to the fact that they are few, but their topics are usually understandable to everyone, they also come in well. And it seems to me that there are always periodically HYIP themes - bitcoin or the Large Hadron Collider, which are just popular at this moment in society.

- Do the organizers try to follow this hyip and look for relevant scientists? How does it work like a media?

— It depends very much on the skillsorganizers in every city, because there are people who, like “Paper” (slams in Moscow and St. Petersburg are organized by the team of the St. Petersburg online publication “Paper” - “High-Tech”), themselves work in the media and understand that people will repost, oh what the media will write. And then, even if they don’t have a speaker who will talk about cryptocurrency so that everyone can relate to it, they will try to make the titles of the speakers’ presentations interesting. We generally have a rule that anyone is eligible to apply for Science Slam, and if they meet the criteria, they are selected. The criteria are that he has academic work and that he is willing to spend time preparing his speech.

The lack of girls in science is the influence of society

- If you go back to the specialties - you canargue with the fact that the humanities are not so developed. But slam was initially focused on technical skills. How are other directions developing now?

— We have a lot of people studying in the humanities.specialties, but this does not mean that they are engaged in research, these are completely different things. And there is slightly less worthwhile research than natural science research.

It all depends on the mood of the organizers. In our country this was very well manifested in the “Scientific Stand-Up” - a program for “Culture”, which we are doing. In the first season of 18 speakers, we only had four girls. And we felt that this was our puncture - we need to work in this direction. Now half the speakers, and even more sometimes, are girls.


The absence of girls was more important to us thanwide variety on topics. Diversity is always a plus, but not always it turns out. In Berlin, there are no restrictions on topics at all; they have a slightly better ratio in different areas of science. We, of course, have more chemical physicists-biologists.

- About girls - I'm afraid to lie, but it seems to meIf, on the whole, we take all scientists in Russia, there will be more men. How important is it for you, as a public platform, to shift the balance, to make 50/50, in order to represent a woman-scientist on a par?

- There are several points here.The guys did a study about why girls stop studying physics or chemistry altogether. Because many people already at school, in the sixth to eighth grade, begin to be told: “Why do you need this?”, “Go to become a lawyer, an economist,” “You don’t care to give birth.” That is, the influence of society is strong, and many people stop working in some complex areas altogether. Accordingly, fewer reach the institute for such opportunities.

Of course, there is a factor that someone is already with the family andchildren, and they are not up to it. Third, and perhaps even more important than marital status, - in general, in our culture, and not only in Russia, a man feels more confident. And if you offer 100 girls and 100 boys to speak, the percentage of answers “I’m not such a cool study, I’m not so cool”, the girls will have more, simply because of self-doubt. So far we have not prescribed it by internal rules, that we are obliged to do something, but if Dud says that “there are no interesting women, therefore I don’t have anyone in the interview”, then we are taking responsibility here. We still attract a large audience and say that our task is to popularize science, including Russian, and the image of a scientist. Accordingly, we need to shift the image of a scientist from a man to the fact that it can be a woman too.

— You said that one of the reasons why girlsless, they are told at school… But don’t we have such a thing that they say this to basically everyone? In Russia, in general, there are quite few prospects in science - and, obviously, there is not much money there.

- Well, you have to understand that at school it’s stillthe conversation is not only about science, but simply about the choice of specialization - and even then there is a division that more guys go for technical and natural science. This is the very first and most important thing. Although girls also have a lot of abilities, and they can do the same things well as guys.

And about funding in science - of course, withOver time the situation is improving. Some grants are appearing. There are always some subsidies. But, as Mikhail Gelfand (Russian bioinformatician - Hi-Tech) once pointed out to me, it is a survivor’s mistake to say that everything is fine in science. No, that's not true. And it is clear that, firstly, there are Moscow and St. Petersburg, and there is all of Russia. Secondly, in science there are sectors that are now included in presidential decrees, somewhere else, and receive funding, and those that do not get anywhere. The situation is gradually improving. Many of our scientists earn decent money and are satisfied with their position; they do not want to go to any commercial companies or do anything else. But, of course, there are precedents for guys leaving science due to lack of financial means of subsistence.

No state in any way

- And if at all to talk about the popularization of science, how much can private initiatives do this without the support of the state?

- It is interesting here that almost all initiativeswhich now exist in Russia, they are mostly private. But, on the other hand, one cannot say that the state has nothing to do with it, because it is not so. Firstly, the state supported the world trend to popularize science. Both the president and everyone else all the time said that science should be in the first place, this is our priority. And funds were allocated - for the popularization of science and support for such projects. I will not talk about how big, effective they are, but the state, for its part, is also pushing this topic.


And what else is important:all these private individuals who do projects to popularize science interact a lot with the state. Most of our scientists are not employees of R&D companies, but from universities or scientific institutes. That is, these are people who receive money from the state for what they do. Sometimes they also receive additional money for popularizing science, that is, again, they participate with us, but the state encourages them. If we look at venues for scientific pop-up events, these are often also universities, boiling points, co-working spaces and quantoriums. All this is also connected, if not directly with the state, then somehow directly.

Companies that support popularizationscience. SIBUR supports us - this is also a link with the state. Very few companies - Yota, Peter-Service, JetBrains, ABBYY, Yandex are there - they are all entirely from the private sector. They have their own programs, they support popularization. But if we compare all our contacts, the greater part will be in some way connected with the state.

- They wrote to RBC about the monetary part of the project -events are received from sponsors almost twice as many as ticket sales. Could such educational projects exist without partners?

- Here, again, you have to divide Moscow andregions, because in Moscow are very expensive sites. If you want to do a major event for 500 people, you need to rent a club for 400-500 people, which costs 200–300 thousand rubles. Plus, all your expenses, and if there is still some income, your fee, then the tickets should already become substantial, not 300–500 rubles. In regions with sites it is a little easier, and with costs too, but, accordingly, tickets are also more expensive for the audience, they are harder to buy.

- There is less audience, in theory.

- And the audience is smaller, of course. We have organizers in cities who work without partners. But we must understand that they initially motivation to hold an event. Do not earn, and hold the event. They are ready to hold it to zero or even to some small minus. Because they have in the first place is the popularization of science and the cool event. If you want to earn guaranteed money, then you need to attract sponsors. You can move in the direction of earning only at the expense of the audience, but the tickets will be noticeable in price, as at such a good concert.

- How much are people willing to pay for it now? Do you see any dynamics?

— It seems to me that in general people in Russia have become moreare willing to pay for any content, not necessarily for an event. I just remember when we held our first event in Samara in 2013, viewers wrote in the comments: “why should we even pay for a ticket?” Now I can no longer imagine such a question. People understand that if something happens, someone pays for it. Not everyone understands that they often pay for it themselves - through the state, through the budget or some other way, but someone has to pay for it. And now there is no more indignation. Another question is whether you will buy these tickets or not.

How does the dynamics change? Here, in the scientific community, it is a bit more difficult because there are so many free events. That is, there are almost no free concerts of pop stars - only for the City Day. There are a lot of free science events: you can open and choose where you will go in the evening. Therefore, when you make a paid event, you have to explain what it is for, to give some additional value. That this is not just science, but, for example, it is also in the bar, and this is a cool atmosphere, and you can also drink beer in parallel, and in general it’s a fashionable party to invite friends or go on a date. You need some extra value to give your event. In this regard, we have no problems with the fact that we take money for tickets. The audience continues to come to us.

KVN system for scientists

- About “Culture” - is this project going on? The latest issue was, it seems, in November.

- February 25–28, shooting of the third season. In November was the second season, the first came out in February 2018.

- You said that you have an audience of 18–35. TV channel "Culture", and in general people who watch TV, is a completely different audience. Why are you doing a project with Culture, and not a YouTube project that would have a lot more views?

- We, of course, understand that this is a completely differentaudience, and for us this is more of a plus than a minus. Because there is a very low probability that an audience of 45+ will come to our offline event. Maybe someone else will watch YouTube, but that’s not a fact. And they watch “Culture” - and this is the channel with which they interact on their own, we don’t even need to bring them there. And in this regard, the popularization of science is necessary for everyone, and not just for the audience that comes to your events. Therefore, we were actually very happy about the offer of “Culture”. For them, on the one hand, this is unusual content, because there are not very many programs on scientific pop, and, on the other hand, there is little attraction for a younger audience, because the speakers who speak can interact with younger people.

Why are we still doing this project? We are interested in it not from the point of view of earnings, but from the point of view of popularization of science. This, of course, is an added bonus for our speakers. That is, it is such a KVN system - so they performed in their university slam, then in the city, all-Russian, and they also have the opportunity to speak on TV. Of course, a TV set is not a TV set 15 years ago, but still it’s a very interesting and unusual experience. The way TV works is just fun to watch. 50 people run around you, each has its own function. And, of course, for us, as for the organizers of the event, this is still an additional leveling, some interesting new features. Because the picture is important on TV and you should not lose the viewer's attention. If the spectator came to the event for two hours, he waited two hours, and even if there were some sagging in the ten-minute speech, he would still watch, watch and remember the good moments. In the TV you have to keep the tension, and the performance should be clear, beautiful and bright. Accordingly, we reduce the performance to seven minutes, we try to remove all the water, we come up with some numbers, interactive, additional props. We practically refuse to give presentations, because on the TV screen they look like sucks - not like at an offline event. In general, this is just another interesting development.


- Are you going to somehow develop in digital content? Now there are some entries on YouTube, but you are not really investing in this direction.

- We have no plans to do an Internet show, butThe issue of video content development is one of the strategy issues for this year. The minimum we want is that we have an agreement with VKontakte about online broadcasts that we give this content exclusively for them, and they recommend it to their users. This is our minimum step, the opportunity to expand the audience of the event from 500 people to 50 thousand. And what’s our advantage from working with Kultura? . Because now it is good that there are these videos, but few will be watching them so that it is exciting. Hopefully we will move in this direction. We have a lot of wishes from different sides, what we would like to do and which projects we could launch, but for each project funding is needed, because we are not a government organization - and every time we have to choose what we will spend the money on after a year of work.

Scientists in Russia now have to talk about their discoveries

- Where are the limits of the popularization of science - how much can scientists now be new rock stars?

- It is clear that the standard new Rihanna will be known to more people than the new Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Maybe this situation will change, but for now it is.

- But in Russia now there is not even Nilov Degrassov Tysonov.

“We have indicators that the situation is changing.For example, when some Russian beer selected people to feature on branded beer cans, one of those who got there was Artem Oganov, a Russian scientist. It is clear that this is just one of the areas of life that needed to be accommodated, but it was placed anyway, and there are people who can be accommodated there. Our speakers are sometimes recognized by cashiers in stores after a scientific stand-up.

The guys who perform in the city slam,then often become translators for the media. Because the media often need some comments, we need scientists who can explain something in simple language. And the guys start interacting with them, some even offer to open their weekly columns. Therefore, they can be stars, but this requires, firstly, an even greater interest in society from science. It is growing here, but so far not so completely. Secondly, in my opinion, then it is necessary to make the attitude towards the scientific community a bit like show business. In the sense that you will not make a star if you are not able to make stars. You must have a show, you must have a person’s promotion, you must have some kind of chips.

- Scientists talk about their research, and youYou work a lot with them to make it more interesting. In general, few of our scientists can simply say what they are doing. How much should they learn this?

- Now the situation is gradually changing. Why have scientists never done this before? Because the amount of money they receive is not dependent on who knows how and what they do. State distribution of money. And in Europe, where the situation is slightly different, scientists are trying to tell the public about what they have done, why it is and why it is necessary, so that society with its support would stimulate the government, mayors, people who have the resources, to continue to finance people. There is no such scheme in Russia yet. But there are other things where scientists still have to talk about their research. And last but not least, all kinds of project defenses, grants - increasingly, presentation skills are required. And most often, when you present, not all experts on your subject are in the commission. There are different people there, and you should be able to speak very clearly for them.


First of all, people need funding,so they should talk about what they are doing. There are other factors too. For example, laboratories increasingly need people. In order for people to come to you, you have to position yourself somehow, you have to tell at least the scientific community about what’s so cool about you. But if you look at it more far-sightedly, you should tell not only the scientific community, which is now choosing which laboratory to go to, but also schoolchildren, so that they then go to the universities you need, study on the right things and then come to your laboratory. And if not to you, then to your neighbor. So that the circle of people from whom you choose becomes wider. This staffing problem isn't just in science, it's in all tech companies. That’s why they invest so much in popularization and education. IT companies create their own separate schools and courses. Because everyone will need people, both those who have the opportunity to influence this, and those who think about it in advance, do it now.

There are super goals that are not so for us.popular, but they can also be. For example, it is a civil science. When scientists for their research attract ordinary people. That is, residents collect some data, monitor some figures on computers, install programs that simply use the power of computers. There are many options. Again, for you to have a broad base, you need to tell people about your research.