Resistance and Replication: Feminists As Insiders and Outsiders in the Knowledge Economy

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Heather LAUBE, University of Michigan-Flint, USA
The presence and status of women in higher education, science, and research continues to be a concern around the world. While the numbers of women in these fields are improving, a strong presence does not always mean a strong voice for women in in these institutional arenas, particularly if they identify as feminist. Feminists inside institutions of knowledge production and dissemination may take advantage of unique opportunities to practice their politics and engage in change-making, but there are significant constraints on their ability to transform these structures while also advancing their careers.

The data for this research comes from in-depth interviews with feminist scholars/researchers who work in institutions of higher education, research institutes, as independent scholars. This comparative study includes participants from Europe, the United States, and the Global South.

Many countries have instituted policies and practices to increase the number of women in the knowledge economy – as university students, professors, and researchers. The existence of these policies, often accompanied by the goal of democratization (including gender equality), begs for attention to the ways organizational change and policies affect differently gendered individuals, the production of gendered knowledge, the gendered nature of work and careers, and social change.

This study examines why feminist scholars choose this work, how the opportunities and constraints embedded in the gendered (and raced and classed) structures of institutions shape their careers and knowledge production, and how they engage in political resistance that subtlety and not-so-subtly challenges the gendered cultures and norms (including assumptions of science) of these institutions and of society.

The analysis of the differences and similarities in institutional structures, laws and social policy, and gendered cultures provides insight into these women’s experiences as both “insiders and outsiders,” and the ways we can make these knowledge economies more inclusive.