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Session Overview
RN33_01c: Feminist knowledge and theorizing: Opportunities and Dialogues
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Consuelo Corradi, Lumsa University
Location: BS.3.16
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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(Inter-)disciplinary Boundaries: (In)accessibility to Feminist Knowledge and its Production through the Educational Offer of Gender Studies at Swedish Universities

Ashley Elisabeth Haru

Uppsala University, Sweden

Contemporary gender research critically tackles a variety of complex topics through intersectional and interdisciplinary lenses and necessarily engenders the continuity of feminist knowledge production and discourse. However, educational accessibility to the analytical tools of the (inter-)discipline is fundamentally crucial not only to feminist knowledge production but is also, from a feminist perspective, pressing in the fight to eradicate social/ethnic/racial, etc. inequalities in society at large. Yet, how accessible is this particular type of knowledge and where, institutionally, geographically and disciplinarily, does one access it? And ultimately, who is it that is able to access it?

This presentation aims to address these questions and examines the (in)accessibility of Gender Studies in Swedish higher education from 1993-2017. Sweden is often considered internationally as a bastion of gender equality and social progressiveness, yet today nearly all programs and research centers, and the majority of gender studies courses tend to be located at the older, more prestigious universities in Sweden. Using Multiple Correspondence Analysis, it is possible to investigate the (inter-)disciplinary boundaries of gender studies and the barriers of access to feminist knowledge and production in Sweden. Structural patterns and divisions are examined regarding where all programs and courses related to gender studies between 1993-2017 were located - across disciplines, institutions, and rural/urban areas – as well as the patterns and divisions regarding the gender and social background of the students who took these programs and courses. Higher education broadly is often seen as a vehicle for change and social progress, but questions of accessibility, (inter-)disciplinary organization and who has access to particular kinds of knowledge necessarily has implications for knowledge production and struggles against systemic inequalities.

Bauman and Gender

Shalva Weil

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, UNISA (University of South Africa)

In 2010, I interviewed Zygmunt Bauman at length in his home in Leeds. Published excerpts of that interview were published in European Sociologist (2011).

In this paper, I bring for the first time unpublished material from the same interview dealing with gender. In particular, I raise the important issue that I had posed in the interview: why does Bauman ignore gender in all his writings and particularly in his writings on the Holocaust? The question is particularly pertinent in that his own wife Janina was a leading female voice documenting the horrific mass killing of six million Jews and millions of others in history’s worst and inexplicable catastrophe, the Holocaust.

In his book “Modernity and the Holocaust”, Bauman viewed both the Holocaust and Communism as results of order-seeking modernity in a post-Enlightenment era, while arguing that modernity is in fact ‘liquid’. While dealing with “modern” syndromes, such as fleeting conjugality, computer problems and even reality shows, Bauman totally disregards gender.

In his recorded interview, Bauman expressed his doubts about the feminist movement, and about women in general. When pressed about his avoidance of the subject of gender in society, he made a distinctly sexist joke, followed by a long speech on hunting and killing of animals, and the ‘inhumanity’ (sic) of women.

Peer Review As Issue Of Critical Gender Research

Felizitas Sagebiel

Bergische University of Wuppertal, Germany

Networking in combination with peer reviews influence the construction of scientific excellence. The paper will show how gender bias is intertwined in this process. Peer reviews or assessments are very important in scientific communities and institutions of higher education. There is a general belief in academia that publication in a peer-reviewed journal shows a higher qualification and scientific excellence than a publication in a journal without peer review or in books. What is nearly never considered is the integration of scientists and reviewers in relevant networks, questioning the principle of meritocracy. Even though mostly informal men’s networks play an important and powerful role in the evaluation system of science they are not considered as biasing objectivity of results. In these networks of so-called gender-neutral journals, women participate still less in comparison to men. If female scientists would send an equal number of papers, they would have a less probability for publication. The results are that in the same field male scientists would seem more qualified in comparison to female scientists.

In recruitment processes for positions of full professors to measure qualification of scientists, peer reviews are obligatory. People in academia think that this procedure is the best measure to find the best-qualified scientists for positons as professor and that this measure is objective, but it is not. The selection and outcome of reviewer are not objective, even though this has been the rationale of this procedure. Feminist sociology should focus these gender biases in global future gender research.

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