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Event Details

The Genetic Lottery

10 May 2022
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
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Tune into the event via our website:

Kathryn Paige Harden | Rob Brooks

Our success is often attributed to merit, education and human nature… but how much of our lives is shaped by genetic ‘luck’? Genetic differences affect our lives in ways that matter, shaping our success and flourishing. 

In her groundbreaking first book, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, Professor Kathryn Paige Harden explores how this ‘genetic luck’ shapes important traits from personalities to health to educational and financial success. 

She argues that denying the importance of genetics has contributed to the corrosive myth of meritocracy. She calls for recognition and appreciation of how these differences can push society to extend opportunity and lives of dignity to all. 

Kathryn Paige Harden will be in conversation with UNSW evolutionary biologist Rob Brooks, for a fearless discussion about how we are shaped by genetic inheritance, and how modern genetics can contribute to a better society. 

Order The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality from the UNSW Bookshop and receive a 20% discount.

The Centre for Ideas’ International Conversations series brings the world to Sydney.  Each digital event brings a leading UNSW thinker together with their international peer or hero to explore inspiration, new ideas and discoveries. 






This event will be available on the UNSW Centre for Ideas website and UNSW YouTube channel. Closed captions will be available on each platform.

A link to watch the event will be sent just before the event to registered attendees.


For event enquiries or to discuss your access requirements, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9065 0485. 

Kathryn Paige Harden

Kathryn Paige Harden

Kathryn Paige Harden is a tenured professor in the Department of Psychology at UT Austin, where she leads the Developmental Behaviour Genetics lab and co-directs the Texas Twin Project. 

Harden received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia and completed her clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School before moving to Austin in 2009. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Huffington Post, among others. In 2017, she was honoured with a prestigious national award from the American Psychological Association for her distinguished scientific contributions to the study of genetics and human individual differences.  

She is the author of The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality which provides a provocative and timely case for how the science of genetics can help create a more just and equal society.  

Rob Brooks

Robert Brooks

Rob Brooks is a Scientia Professor of Evolution at UNSW Sydney. His research considers the conflicting evolutionary interests that make sex sizzle and render reproduction complicated. Working on both human and non-human animals, Rob explores the evolutionary and ecological consequences of sexual reproduction, to help us understand both nature and the human condition.  
His first book, Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, won the Eureka Prize and the 2012 Queensland Literary Award for Science Writing, and his recent book Artificial Intimacy: Virtual friends, digital lovers and algorithmic matchmakers, considers humanity’s evolved capacities for friendship, love, and intimacy, and what happens when they encounter new technologies like social media, online dating, and virtual reality sex. 

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