Sociologists, Feminists, and Work in the Corporatized University

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:35
Oral Presentation
Heather LAUBE, University of Michigan-Flint, USA
In 2002, I interviewed 50 US-based sociologists, all women, who self-identified as feminist. I explored their experiences as professors at various career stages and located in various types of institutions of higher education. I asked if and how their feminism shaped their professional work, how the type of institution in which they were situated influenced how they practiced their feminism, the relationship of their feminism to their scholarship and teaching, the importance of intersections of gender and race, and how they thought about professional success and activism. I examined how the structure of academia, definitions of science, and expectations about the production of knowledge shaped their work, careers, and feminist identities.

Fifteen years later, it is reasonable to expect that the assistant professors I interviewed then are now associate (or perhaps even full), and the associate professors are now full professors. Some will have changed universities and others may have left academia. Some of the full professors will have retired or moved into leadership positions. In an effort to understand how their careers have progressed and their feminist practice has evolved, I return to the two-thirds of the original participants who were assistant or associate professors in 2002, to ask them to share their experiences and reflections since our 2002 interviews.

The institution of higher education has changed somewhat dramatically over the last fifteen years. In this paper, I focus on my participants’ reflections on the ways the corporatization of higher education has impacted their work over the past 15 years. I explore how, as feminists and sociologists, they have grasped opportunities to challenge and disrupt this institutional shift, while confronting structural constraints and attempted to maintain and advance their careers.