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Pragya Agarwal

Friday 16th September

Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath, York Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 1NG
Doors Open
Start Time

Dr Pragya Agarwal is a behavioural and data scientist.

She has held a number of senior academic positions in US and UK Universities for over 15 years and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

As well as numerous research papers, she is the author of three acclaimed books, Sway: Unravelling Unconscious BiasWish We Knew What to Say: Talking with Children about Race and (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman, and a book Standing Up To Racism for young children.

Pragya joins us to talk about her new book, Hysterical: Exploding the Myth of Gendered Emotions

Emotions can be difficult things to define, yet we all recognise them felt or seen in others. How we interpret those emotions and act on them has been heavily gendered, as far back as Ancient Greek and Roman times and – despite the improvements in societal equality – continues to be today.

We’ve all heard the sayings that girls should be ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’, while ‘boys don’t cry’. In Hysterical, Pragya Agarwal dives deep into the history and science that has determined the gendering of emotions to ask whether there is any truth in the notion of innate differences between the male and female experience of emotions. She examines the impact this has on men and women – especially the role it has played in the subjugation of women throughout history – and how a future where emotions are ungendered might look.

Hysterical is absolutely fascinating. Like all Pragya’s work this book is both robustly researched and deeply moving. In a whistle stop tour, she traces our gendered and misogynistic assumptions about male and female brains back thousands of years. She demonstrates how these stereotypes have been used throughout history to create and maintain a power imbalance between men and women.

This book is brave, unapologetic and, at times, rightly furious . . . all emotions for which women have been labelled hysterical. Instead, as Pragya proposes, “I feel, therefore I am.”


“Read this book and feel furious, uplifted and galvanised to take its findings out into the world and fight for change.” ~ Laura Bates