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Sex Discrimination in UK Academia



This article examines the gendered nature of employment in UK universities, showing women's experience of discrimination through differences in contract status and in access to academic hierarchies. It argues that the typical academic career path is structured according to a male perception of success: research-active, participating in the Research Assessment Exercise, an uninterrupted career history. The system of meritocracy upon which appointment and promotion within academic are based, the article argues, reinforces such a masculine approach to career success. These meritocratic systems of inequality reflect and reproduce the discursive practices of masculinity that present disadvantages to a majority of women and some men.
Sex Discrimination in UK Academia
David Knights and Wendy Richards
This is an early version of the publication Knights, D. and Richards, W, ‘Sex Discrimination in UK
Academia’, Gender, Work and Organization, Special Issue on Gender and Academic Employment 10/2,
2003, pp. 213-38.
This paper examines the gendered nature of employment in UK universities, showing women’s
experience of discrimination through differences in contract status and in access to academic
hierarchies. It argues that the typical academic career path is structured according to a male
perception of success: research-active, participating in the Research Assessment Exercise, an
uninterrupted career history. The system of meritocracy upon which appointment and promotion
within academic is based, the paper argues, reinforces such a masculine approach to career
success. These meritocratic systems of inequality reflect and reproduce the discursive practices of
masculinity that present disadvantages to a majority of women and some men.
Keywords: female academics, meritocracy, masculinity – power
Sex Discrimination in UK Academia
In the UK an independent report on higher education (Bett, 1999) has concluded that women are
systematically underpaid at all levels in universities. More recent research by the Association of
University Teachers (AUT), one of the two higher education trade unions, demonstrates that the
gap between average salaries for male and female academic staff in UK higher education has
widened in the past five years (AUT 2001). As a consequence, gender remains particularly
legitimate as an issue within academic employment. The unions representing university teachers in
the UK, supported by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, subsequently lobbied the
government for almost £500m extra cash to meet the recommendations of the Bett report (THES,
July 21, 2000). As part of ‘the government’s pre-election cash bonanza’, universities received
£100m, only half of which is designated for improving pay but ‘to high-fliers, who are being lured
abroad by higher salaries’ (ibid, p. 1). The prospects for reversing the inequalities on pay to
women academics then would seem limited unless the unions can intervene.
As is indicated in the first part of this article, the legislation provides a contextual legitimacy for
union intervention to promote equal opportunity, yet the outcome on a number of fronts to say the
least has been disappointing. Part of the problem has been precisely the commitment to a universal
system of meritocratic values that are at the base of equal opportunity policies in modern liberal
regimes.1 While these values have to be supported to restrict discrimination on the basis of class,
race or sex, universally applied they militate against equal opportunity for women in a patriarchal
society. The second part of the article therefore examines critically the power of masculine
discourses and practices to obstruct the career progress of women2. Although changes are afoot in
relation to taking account of maternity and child care in the Research Assessment Exercise
(RAE)3, the fact that it has taken over 14 years for this to be recognised reflects the masculine
discursive context of its genesis. Academic production is shrouded in masculine norms and values
surrounding the rational and competitive pursuit of knowledge that facilitates the conquest of
nature and the control of populations (Kerfoot and Knights, 1993; 1996). This masculine
normative framework is not only reflected in the academic output of theories and publications but
also in the often disembodied and technically rational way in which knowledge is debated and
discussed. Before examining this, however, we focus on the context in which sex discrimination
in academia has continued to be sustained despite institutional conditions in which it should have
been precluded.
The UK legal and institutional context
In terms of labour market participation in the UK, one of the most striking features is that women
are taking an increasingly important role. In 1971, 56 per cent of women were economically
active; this had risen to 79 per cent by Spring 2000. While the proportion of economically active
women has increased, the proportion of economically active men has declined. In 1971, 91 per
cent of men were economically active compared with 84 per cent in Spring 1999; the current
overall participation rate is 79 per cent (Labour Force Survey, 2000). Projections indicate a further
narrowing of the gender gap. This change is partly caused by the decline of many traditional male
areas of employment, to be replaced with mainly service-sector jobs of the kind considered to be
'female'. Much of women's employment is in so-called 'non-standard' forms of employment: part-
time work, temporary contracts, 'zero-hours' contracts, unsocial hours, working away from the
employer's place of business and so on. Such so-called 'atypical' work is no longer, in the UK
context, untypical. The most recent Workplace Employment Relations Survey reports increased
usage by employers of these forms of 'flexible' employment, and also notes that the majority of
employees in these categories are women (Millward et al 2000). Many of these jobs appear to
have been socially constructed as 'women's work' - and paid accordingly - and it has been argued
that any flexibility offered by such forms of work largely benefits employers (Rubery et al 1994,
inter alia).
Occupational segregation is a major feature of the economy, with many occupational areas
stratified into men's and women's employment; segregation also exists in occupational hierarchies.
It has been argued that the UK labour market is among the most segregated in Europe: Scott
(1994) found that 66 per cent of men worked exclusively or mainly with other men, and 54 per
cent of women worked exclusively or mainly with women. Half of women in employment are in
just three occupational groups: clerical and secretarial, personal and protective services, and sales,
as compared to about one-fifth of men. On the other hand, women are very under-represented in
areas such as engineering and sciences. The latest data appears to indicate the gradual breaking
down of horizontal segregation, with some movement in relation to vertical segregation. Whereas
in 1984 women were under-represented in managerial ranks in 92 per cent of workplaces, by 1998
that had fallen to 68 per cent (Millward et al pp. 41 - 2).
In terms of pay, it has also been argued that the pay gap between men and women in the UK is one
of the largest in Europe (Rubery and Fagan 1995). The most recent data available (New Earnings
Survey, 2000) shows that women earn 81.6 per cent of men's hourly pay and 74.7 per cent of
men's weekly pay. The gap has been narrowing in the past couple of years, largely due to the
introduction of the national statutory minimum wage which has affected substantially more
women workers than men (Thornley and Coffey 1999).
The existence for twenty-five or more years of legislation on equal pay and equal treatment ought
to have eradicated inequality in pay and gendered job segregation. Yet a majority of women
continue to earn less than men, are segregated into the lower levels of employment hierarchies and
face difficulties in gaining promotion or entering non-traditional areas of work. Lawyers and
politicians appear to have little understanding of the structural conditions that sustain gender
inequalities and sex discrimination at work and instead continue to see the problem as an
individual one (von Prondzynski and Richards 1992). But is difficult to explain away this
continuity of inequality as the result of isolated acts by employers, or to suggest that it could be
remedied through individual women taking discrimination cases to tribunals. Employment
tribunals statistics are illustrative here. Although sex discrimination cases enjoy a considerably
higher success rate than cases involving alleged race discrimination,4 in 1998/99 out of 4,025
claims lodged only 270 were successful at tribunal, with 527 losing at the tribunal hearing, 1,791
settled and 1,334 withdrawn5 (EOR 1999). Much has been written about the reasons for this, from
difficulties with the legislation itself to the legalistic and male-dominated nature of the tribunal
system. Also tribunals generally subscribe to rationales related to 'market forces' for differences in
pay that reflect and reinforce attributions of pay differences to individual competence, and even in
successful cases award low average levels of compensation ( median levels are still only around
£40006). As O'Donovan and Szyszczak noted, the liberal conception of equality upon which
British discrimination law is based "abstracts persons from their unequal positions and puts them
in a competition in which their prior inequality and its effects are ignored" (1988, p.4).
The Academic Context
With the exception of one small private university, the British University system is publicly
funded although increasingly supplementary funds are being sought from outside the public sector
and some universities (e.g. Oxbridge) are endowed with very large stipends. Universities receive
block grants from Funding Councils, as well as other public sources, and students' tuition is
largely paid for by the State. While this system purports to provide access to higher education for
all on a non-means-tested basis, in practice since the abolition of maintenance grants in the mid-
1990s there has been a reduction in participation among those from less well-off backgrounds;
these were already in the minority among university students. Until 1992 a 'binary divide' existed
in higher education, between universities in which staff were expected to research as well as teach,
and polytechnics, in which research was considered to be less important and which tended not to
receive research funds. That divide was abolished in 1992 and polytechnics - as well some
colleges of higher education - became universities, but pay and conditions are still determined
separately for the pre- and post-1992 institutions, and for the most part staff in the sectors are
represented by different trade unions. It is still the case that the post-1992 universities receive a
lower share of research funding, and have higher teaching loads per staff member.
The concept of 'tenure' or guaranteed lifetime employment tenure was abolished in 1988, except
for a minority of academics who retain original contracts. It is thus possible for academics to be
made redundant; though in practice compulsory redundancies are extremely rare and are
vigorously opposed by the two lecturers' unions. Systems of 'grey-listing' and full academic
boycotts can be used to persuade universities contemplating compulsory redundancies to change
their plans. Only academics in post before 1988 and who have not since been promoted or had a
significant change in their terms of conditions still retain tenure.
The total number of academic staff employed in universities in 1999/2000 was 135,750; of that, 64
per cent were male (HESA data, June 2001). Women comprise 53 per cent of all part-time
academics.7 Women's share of part-time employment in universities is lower than in the labour
market as a whole, since many part-time lecturers are actually retired academics 'keeping their
hand in.' Women, therefore, represent just over one-third of all academics, but a considerable
amount of vertical segregation is evident. Of around 80 higher education institutions, only five are
headed by a woman Vice-Chancellor or Principal, and only one of those is in the (more
prestigious) pre-1992 sector; she is VC of one of the smaller universities.8 In the ‘old’ universities,
only 9 per cent of professors are women; with women making up 27 per cent of senior lecturers
and 57 per cent of lecturers. Women are therefore significantly over-represented in the lower
grades. At managerial level, only 19 percent of Deans of Faculty and 22 per cent of senior
administrators are women. (Holroyd, 2000).9
While tenure is no longer of importance in academia, contractual status certainly is. Recent years
have shown a rapid escalation in the use of fixed-term contracts, and higher education now
employs 11 per cent of all UK fixed-term contract employees, the largest concentration of any
industry.10 In 1994-95 60 per cent of academic staff were on permanent contracts; by 1998-99, the
most recent year for which figures are available, that proportion had fallen to 55 per cent. During
1997-98, 78 per cent of all appointments made to academic jobs were to fixed-term contracts.11
AUT estimates that if current trends continue, by 2003-2004 half of all academic staff in the UK
will have lost any job security (AUT 1999b, p. 37). Many temporary staff are on research
contracts, which are normally of a short fixed duration owing to the nature of research funding.
However, there is a growing trend of using fixed-term contracts - sometimes rolling contracts - for
full-time teaching positions: around a quarter of all teaching staff were on fixed-term contracts in
1994-95, for example, and this has now increased to almost 30 per cent (AUT 2001b). The authors
of this paper are aware of women who have been employed on rolling fixed-term contracts in
excess of eight years. In relation to research posts, the latest data available shows a significant
increase in 'ghettoisation' of such staff. There has been an increase, from 43 per cent in 1997 to 47
per cent in 1999, in the number of contract research staff whose previous occupation was a fixed-
term contract (RCI 2000, Annex 3). It is expected that the position of fixed-term staff may
improve when the Fixed-Term Work Directive is implemented in the UK in late 2002.12
In relation to gender, women are represented among research staff approximately in proportion to
their representation among academics as a whole, though the balance is shifting: 32 per cent were
women in 1997, as compared to 37 per cent in 1999 (RCI 2000, Annex 3). Among all academic
staff, 50 per cent of women were employed on fixed-term contracts in 1998 - 99, as compared to
38 per cent of men (HESA data)13. Thus it would appear that casualisation in higher education
affects women disproportionately.
As well as being more likely to be employed on insecure contracts, women in academia also earn
less than their male counterparts. Overall, male academics earn on average nearly one-fifth more
than women, and it appears that the gender pay gap is widening in academia, in contrast to the
situation in the wider labour market. The largest pay gaps within subject areas were found in the
sciences, with an average gap of just over £4000; the highest was in anatomy and physiology, with
a pay gap of £8000 between men and women (AUT 1999b and 2000).
Despite concern expressed by the then Secretary of State for Education and Employment,14 as well
as the production of an agreed Framework for Partnership15 between university employers and
recognised unions, this pay gap is not one that will disappear in the short term. This is principally
a case of pay structures leading to seeming discrimination; the pay discrepancies occur due to
factors such as the employers' discretion in determining the level of pay on appointment despite
the existence of incremental scales. New staff may be appointed at any appropriate point on the
scale, and there is anecdotal evidence that men may be appointed at higher levels, and will
therefore remain more highly paid. Second, the promotions process also creates pay differentials,
and there is some reason to suspect that this process may disadvantage women. Women are under-
promoted in relation to their representation in academic posts, as earlier data on the proportions of
women at various grades demonstrates. In addition, promotions procedures have been described as
lacking transparency in many institutions. In 1987, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge won
a judicial review of the promotion process at Cambridge; at that stage, staff could not even apply
for promotion. They had to wait to have their names put forward, and there was no feedback or
right of appeal. The judge who heard the case, Sir Stephen Sedley, laid down a set of criteria for
promotion procedures that institutions have since made efforts to follow. This included the
provision of feedback and an appeals mechanism, and the use of an 'analytical' system of grading
applicants on a range of factors relevant to the promotion criteria.
Tensions and Contradictions around inequality
Sex discrimination has been clearly an aspect of employment in higher education throughout the
world despite the particular context of academia and its commitment to universal meritocratic
values. Conventional studies of sex discrimination subscribe to a meritocratic model of equal
opportunity. Because of its universal acceptance within modern liberal regimes, struggles in the
name of equal opportunity are the most effective means of securing change. For discrimination
other than on grounds of merit is seen to be a contradiction of human rights in liberal society.
Meritocracy has the power to pass the responsibility for unequal outcomes back onto the
individual and therefore to stigmatise the unsuccessful as incompetent or incapable something
that these same individuals are likely to internalise thus becoming subjects with very low levels of
self-worth (Sennett and Cobb, 1977). But because of the unequal domestic division of labour and
the gender asymmetry in child care, meritocracy also has the effect of reinforcing the advantage
that men have over women in the competition for scarce rewards in the workplace. No matter how
close higher education comes to removing some of the more obvious constraints on equal
opportunity, for some women and a few men the competition is more akin to an obstacle race than
a 300-metre sprint. Apart from the more obvious problems such as childbearing taking place just
at the point when ‘careers are being built’ (Osborn et al, 2000) and those already mentioned, there
is the question of masculinity that we discuss below. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that
meritocracy presides over and serves to legitimise some of the most all-pervasive of social
inequalities based on competitive demonstrations of comparative superiority in academic and
other spheres of competence. Without necessarily condoning one or the other, the meritocratic
system of equal opportunity can be contrasted with a property/wealth model derived from Marx
(1973) that seeks to debunk such devices (See Fig. 1).
Generated by
class system
stratification system
Involving relations that are
a plurality
And are also
2 dimensional
Resulting in
blocked mobility
equal opportunity
where change occurs
Problems arising from the
allocation of resources
competition and contests
Fig. 1 Models of Inequality
Most western democracies fall somewhere in between these two ideal-typical models of inequality
and many activists concerned with issues of inequality seek simply to achieve a closer
approximation to the competition or meritocratic model. As far as sex and race discrimination is
concerned, we do have to support equal opportunity reforms but the problems of inequality within
meritocratic systems should not be treated lightly or too readily dismissed. Equal opportunity can
readily be seen as the liberal means of legitimising inequality since the disparities in material and
symbolic privilege can be justified as reflecting the fair and equitable rewards for achievement and
talent. Social mobility - both upward and downward is seen to provide an index of the absence
of institutionalised social inequality. But we know that such inequality cannot possibly be
eliminated while systems of inheritance facilitate the intergenerational reproduction of economic
The question is to what extent the meritocratic system reflects and reproduces the domination of
masculine values and discursive practices and whether this serves to sustain inequality between
the sexes in general and within universities in particular? This is particularly important in the UK
where an ostensibly meritocratic system of financially rewarding academic departments and
universities on the basis of comparing the quantity and quality of their output - the research
assessment exercise (RAE) - has become institutionalised.
The RAE is a four- or five-yearly survey of research output in British universities, for which each
academic is required to supply up to four items published during the period in question. It is a
universal system that takes no account of differential academic life chances that are gendered or
grounded in any other systematised inequality (e.g. ethnicity, sexual orientation). So when women
are competing with men for scarce positions, promotions or salary increments, there is often not a
level playing field. Many women have assumed domestic and child-rearing responsibilities that
has restricted the time that, by comparison with their male counterparts, they could possibly
devote to academic work and building their CVs. Research by the Association of University
Teachers (AUT) in June 2000 has shown that ‘Men are almost twice as likely to be entered into
the research assessment exercise than women’. (See Tables 1-4 in Annexe 1). Subject specialisms
where the proportion of women entered in the 1996 exercise was significantly lower than women's
representation in academia as a whole included languages, technology and clinical medicine,
though this data does not record specialisms in which no women at all were entered. The
significance of this for equal opportunity is that a failure to be submitted in the RAE probably
discounts a person’s career progress for a considerable time and it has been used by some
universities as a selection device for targeting offers of early retirement. While meritocratic
evaluations are designed to secure equal opportunity regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion or
disability, here we see how their global and universal character may have precisely the opposite
effect. The claim may be that meritocracy discriminates only on the basis of talent and effort but it
could be argued that this form of discrimination is indeed gendered; it is the outcome of
generations of masculine ways of thinking and intervening in the organization of social and
political life.
Women may be omitted for reasons that have nothing to do with their research capability or
output: perhaps because their research is not perceived to fit the mainstream16, or for reasons
related to domestic responsibilities or childbirth. One woman academic, who was turned down for
promotion and a permanent job shortly after she had taken sick leave resulting from a miscarriage,
saw the job for which she had applied go to a man considerably younger than her. She was told
that he would be 'better able to meet the next RAE'; she took her case to an employment tribunal
and won. The tribunal agreed that she had suffered sex discrimination, on the basis that her
employer, the London School of Economics, was aware that she intended to have another baby.17
Partly perhaps as a response but because of other criticisms and the Bett findings on gender pay
inequality (see earlier), the RAE issued guidelines for the 2001 review. It was made clear that the
position of staff who have taken maternity leave or career breaks or been absent through illness
will be taken into consideration, although it is up to university managements to draw this to the
panel's attention.
Men have traditionally dominated the pure and applied natural sciences and this field has assumed
the typical characteristics of occupations that are described as job segregated along the lines of
gender. Women have been excluded or participated in self-exclusion precisely because men
dominate the disciplines. As Osborn et al (2000:21-2) argue, the history of women in science in
some countries has moved from exclusion to segregation. Horizontal segregation demonstrates a
clustering of women in the “softer” biological and medical sciences; vertical segregation reveals
that while around half of undergraduates, a minority of women reach professorial status, and
contractual segregation reveals that women predominate in non-tenured or part time, non-
permanent posts. However, there have been slim glimmers of light in some recent research.
Trowler (1998), for example, found that new credit (i.e. the universal recognition of learning or
academic credits between programmes and institutions) and modular (i.e. more specialised and
shorter courses usually taught over a single semester) frameworks have benefited some women
academics, particularly those in low status or service teaching positions. This is because they have
been able to develop new modules, gain ‘course leaderships, promotion and the prerogative of
determining their own areas of teaching and research’ (ibid. 144). Also
on examining peer review for fellowship schemes, the UK Medical Research Council concluded
that there was no evidence of gender discrimination, although far fewer women applied for such
funding in the first place (Grant, Burden and Breen, 1997, quoted in Osborn et al, 2000:36). In
both these cases, however, the limited improvements were largely in what are called the “softer”
disciplines. It would seem that part of what has the effect of maintaining a limitation in the
numbers of women seeking to enter the pure sciences is the discursive distinction between their
“hard” as opposed to “soft” character. However, this binary distinction extends well beyond the
division between the natural or applied sciences and the social sciences or humanities (Deem,
1996). It also is reflected in internal gendered divisions of labour and styles of teaching and
research (Letherby and Shiels, 2001: 128), both of which tend to reinforce prevailing constitutions
of gendered subjectivity.
“Soft”/”Hard” Distinctions
While all analysis requires distinctions to be made, it is important to recognise that the categories
selected are rarely innocent or neutral constructions. They are conditioned by and in turn
reproduce power/knowledge relations (Foucault, 1980) that create, sustain or transform particular
identities and interests. The distinction between “hard” and “soft” in science and academic
discourse more generally is no exception and it is therefore important to identify the conditions
that make it possible and, of course, plausible within universities. This is necessary if we are to
avoid attention being diverted from the dangers of allowing mere distinctions to become reified
entities such that what is simply a heuristic device is transformed into an ontological reality
beyond, and as if it were independent of, the theorist. Consequently our use of the distinction is
selected for purposes of suggesting that it is drawn upon partly as a discursive resource in
elevating the “hard” sciences carried out predominantly by men over the “soft” humanities, where
there are larger numbers of women academics. Much of its rationale rests on its relationship to
meritocracy since the latter demands some degree of measurement of competence and the “hard”
provides precisely this. When linked with meritocracy, the “soft”/”hard” distinction acts not as a
system of enlightened reason that seeks only to create ‘level playing fields’ for healthy
competition to thrive but it also tends to pre-define what counts as competence. This is not just a
function of the masculine propensity to favour technical rationality or the predominance of men in
gate-keeping positions within universities. Measurement is built into the very notion of
meritocracy since it is about separating individuals off from one another through hierarchically
constituted evaluations, marks, and grades. In the words of Foucault (1982), it is a dividing
practice in which the competent are defined against those deemed incompetent, the successful
against those who fail, the ‘good’ against the ‘bad’, and so forth. As can be seen, the “soft”/”hard”
distinctionextends ? beyond the mere divisions between science and the humanities. It embraces
work carried out within them and especially discourses related to gender and women that are
almost universally given a pejorative label, which has the potential to undermine the career of
those choosing to work in such areas. It enables them to be constituted as “other” (Anderson and
Williams, 2001: 2).
However, this “hard”/”soft” distinction spreads over into divisions of academic labour regardless
of discipline and to styles of teaching and research. Letherby and Shiels (2001: 128) point to the
ways in which management structures and students’ expectations are gendered such that they are
more inclined to make demands on women academics that are of a nurturing nature whereas their
expectations of the men are often restricted to academic advice. This, of course, may not just be
demand driven but insofar as men seem more easily able to ‘distance themselves from emotional
labour’ (ibid. 129), it is supply led. With increasing mass higher education and the introduction of
fees and loans, the nurturing work is expanding and women academics are likely to experience
more of the “burden”. While this differential provision of emotional labour by women academics
is necessary and beneficial to educational institutions (ibid.), those doing it are deprived of some
of the space for career focused research and publication activities.
The elevation of “hard” over “soft” discourse is one way in which women can become
marginalised and it has the effect, whether or not intended, of protecting masculine science from
feminisation. It is concerned to define as ‘other’ that which has a potential to threaten the orderly
conceptual frameworks of science by its challenging questions of that which is taken for granted
namely, the world as a ‘thing’ to be discovered through representational devices18. When
threatened by the problematics of endless interpretation, it is easy for the “hard” to resort to
simplistic and arbitrary defences that reflect a preoccupation with order, stability, and harmony.
Hence the language of the “hard”/”soft” conceptual framework creates mental preconceptions and
verbal myths in the minds and language of academics and here we have the problem of reification
as the “hard/soft” variants of discourse are taken-for-granted as real or “out there”. While the
division between “soft” and “hard” may have epistemological and other theoretical difficulties, its
treatment as more than a heuristic device or as an unchanging reification can become even more
solid once it is socially reproduced through taken for granted gendered binaries. It probably can be
conceded that the gendered nature of our culture conditions women to pursue the “softer”
disciplines or aspects of research, but that should not disadvantage them as seemingly it does. For
so-called “hard” or quantitative research in any discipline, including even the natural sciences,
relies on a “soft” or qualitative ground of interpretation and would be unintelligible if not
disseminated through interpretative schema. This is only a variant of the argument that except as a
technical manipulation of symbols, mathematics has no meaning until it is applied to something
outside of itself. Moreover, everything outside has to be understood through human interpretation
– precisely what is considered as “soft”. When it is recognised that even internal to mathematics,
interpretation abounds especially at its theoretical leading edges, the “soft”/“hard” binary can be
seen as in need of deconstruction along with the gendered discrimination that it helps sustain.
Unfortunately appointments and promotion panels are unlikely to engage in such deconstruction.
This is largely because they are made up of predominantly male senior academics (Deans,
Research Deans etc) whose success may often be attributed to conforming to the “malestream”,
"mainstream" or "hard" aspects of their disciplines. Men in these positions may not always
sympathise with research areas that stand outside and may even challenge the intellectual
credibility of the “mainstream”.
At the other extreme, within the humanities and social sciences there are far more women entrants
but still their progress through the career hierarchy is much less in evidence (Anderson and
Williams, 2001). Here, however, the absence of relatively consensual standards can render the
situation even worse for women. At least in science, the consensus on what counts as knowledge,
theory, method, and evidence makes it difficult to ignore the competence of women where they
meet these standards. In the humanities and social science, where there is so little agreement,
masculine norms of judgement can prevail to further disadvantage women and various minorities
in the competition for scarce positions and resources. However, the “hard”/”soft” distinction has
the effect of marginalising women within the disciplines rather than denying them entry in the first
place. This is partly a labour market supply issue for vacancies would be very difficult to fill if
women were excluded, especially as they have tended to perform better than men in terms of
securing qualifications. But within the social sciences, “hard”, quantitative research is frequently
elevated over “soft”, qualitative research and insofar as women are often attracted to the social
sciences because there are more opportunities for interpretative work, their careers can suffer as
against those of men. As a result of the success of epistemological and philosophical challenges to
positivism, the “hard”/”soft” distinction is increasingly becoming less of a problem in certain
disciplines (e.g. sociology, politics) in Europe than in the US. However, its legacy can still
privilege men especially in those disciplines (e.g. psychology, economics, management) that have
sought to acquire credibility through emulating the physical sciences. “Hard” or technical
rationality continues to be associated with masculinity and “soft” or communicative and symbolic
relations with femininity. Insofar as masculine discursive practices, then, seem to have an
overwhelming impact in relations between the sexes in academia, it is incumbent on us to examine
how they are created and sustained in the broader society as well as in academia.
Masculinity attempts to claim as a core domain exclusive to itself the practice and culture of science
and technology. This is closely associated with masculinity's claims to rationality (Seidler, 1989). It
is also linked to masculinity's alienation from the body and emotion (Corneau, 1991). In making this
claim, of course, masculinity also has a profound influence on the social construction of science and
technology. That is, the very definition of science and technology, and the predominant discourses
and cultures used to explain and mobilise the concepts and boundaries of different disciplines and
artefacts are hugely influenced by their identification with masculine practices. It might be argued
that in much contemporary discourse, science/technology and the masculine define each other. In
particular, men see the kinds of technology (e.g. domestic appliances; office equipment) that are
strongly associated with women as not really ‘technology’. Thus, for example, few men in particular
would identify people in highly feminised human/machine interactions, such as sewing or word
processing, as technical workers whereas men using machines in metal-working or printing are easily
identified as engineers and technical workers (Cockburn, 1985). From this point of view, what is
perceived to be scientific, technological, and indeed rational is frequently associated exclusively with
what is considered to be masculine and to a gendered division of labour. However, as Fitzsimons
(1994:126) makes clear, it is not technology or science per se but power that encourages this
association with one or other gender. In the early days of computing when it was not yet clear that
such a technology would be powerful, women were the programmers (ibid.). It is therefore important
to historicize our perspectives.
In the early 1980s Easlea (1983) argued that the historical development of scientific discourse was
mediated by the deployment of an aggressively masculine imagery of invasion and subjugation. This
involved the occupation and dissection of a passive and mysterious female ‘nature’. Here science
developed as a distinctively masculine activity where the “deeper the mental penetration into female
nature the greater the mental virility the man of science is able to claim” (ibid: 171). This gave rise to
a hierarchy of potency and status within the sciences where the most penetrative and dissecting
activities such as particle physics stand above the “softer” systemic approaches such as biology and
Seen from this perspective, science was articulated as a cold, dry, hard, aggressive activity that
gloried in its own penetrative abilities in the pursuit of a complete 'mastery' over nature. Science and
particular masculinities developed together in the modern era. This involved not only the dissection
of a socially constructed female nature but also the self-mutilation of the potentiality of a different
kind of masculinity. For men's subjugation of a feminine nature proceeded apace with a need to
"subjugate and conquer the feminine within themselves" where this included the need to relate, to
enter into dialogue, receptivity (listening/empathy), and the validation of and involvement in "simple
domestic concerns" (Easlea, 1983 pp. 146 and 37).
More historically grounded accounts of the development of science and technology (for a critique of
Easlea's ahistorical method see Jordanova, 1987) have pointed to the incursion of women into this
privileged masculine realm. However, Rossiter (1982) concludes that, in the period 1880-1910,
women's position within science was constrained in two ways: they were either limited to holding
subservient positions as assistants and educators or confined to practice science in ‘women's’ fields
such as home economics or cosmetic chemistry.
Harding (1986) also examines the subordination of women in the sciences in this and the post-war
period. She argues that the cultural stereotype of science as tough, rigorous, rational, impersonal,
competitive and unemotional has continued to be 'inextricably intertwined with issues of men's
gender identities' in a mutually reinforcing manner (1986:63). Science and technology not only seem
to vest masculinity with a particular potency in, and claim on, the world: they also render masculinity
and science particularly vulnerable to feminine 'dilution'.
We should expect that in science more than any other occupation (except, perhaps,
making war) it will take the presence of only a very few women to raise in men's
minds the threat of feminization and thus of challenges to their own gender identity
(Harding, 1986:63).
Despite believing that women are disadvantaged by the dominance of a masculine, unilinear
rationality in both the production of knowledge and the evaluation of its producers within
universities, we do not share Harding’s feminist standpoint epistemology (1993). We agree with
Walby (2001) when she rejects standpoint epistemology or the ‘situated knowledge’ perspective
subscribed to by Harraway (1988) and Hekman (1997) because besides their relativism, they
caricature science. However, we are not in favour of its polar opposite - the ‘realist’ position in
which ‘there is a world out there that ultimately acts as a check, as a form of resistance to the
development of theory’ (Walby, 2001: 503). In our view, this is equally as problematic as the
relativism she critiques. In arguing that relativism has to be avoided because it undercuts its own
epistemological position, Walby (ibid. 495) is fully aware of the ‘self-referential paradox’
(Lawson, 2001). This would seem to be the attraction of a return to ‘realism’ but there are similar
problems that have perhaps been forgotten since the demise of the episteme of representation
(Benhabib, 1992). If it is not to resort to a form of mysticism, the realist has to follow the idea that
language can serve as a representation of reality and therefore that it is possible to provide a
complete and true account of the universe. But the agent of the account is independent of the
representations provided thus implying that the account is incomplete. In order to be complete, an
account would have to account for itself but then in doing so it would lose its independence and
hence its truth. In other words, once the view that it is possible to provide a complete and true
account of the universe is applied to itself, it suffers from the self-referential paradox whereby if it
is true it is incomplete and if complete no longer true (ibid. xxiv). In any return to a notion of
incompleteness or variable truth, it slides back into the relativism it seeks to discard. Realism, it
would seem, is the ‘black beast’ of positivism returning to haunt this kind of dualistic thinking
(Knights, 1997).
In its broadest sense masculinity is the way men behave; it is the way men think and feel about
themselves. Far from being a natural or biological category, masculinity is a socially constructed way
of seeing and being. As such, it can and does change over both time and space. For example, concepts
of manhood in medieval and contemporary times have changed considerably as they also differ
between cultures and ethnic groupings. Furthermore, masculinity displays itself in a variety of ways
within the same society depending, for example, on age, class or race, geographical location, form of
power and sexual orientation.
If masculinities are plural and socially constructed it follows that a masculine identity is not
unambiguously conferred upon men as a function of their biological sex. It doesn't simply come with
a penis at birth. Rather, it is the product of complex and often contradictory social processes.
Moreover, while there are elements of ascription, living up to the image of what it is to be ‘a man’ is a
continuous struggle. Masculine subjects feel “driven” for no discernible reason other than a demand
to ‘perform’ in relation to what it means, and how it feels, to subscribe to an ideal of competence
(Kerfoot and Knights, 1993:672). Any display of vulnerability not only threatens the image of that
competence but also the very slender masculine identity that it is brought into the service of
protecting. Masculinity is something that men struggle to achieve and maintain in highly competitive
circumstances. “Gender is not something we [as men] can be relaxed and easy about. It is something
we have to constantly prove and assert” (Seidler, 1989:151). Dominated as they have been by men,
academic organizational hierarchies whether based on bureaucratic position or peer esteem are a
condition and consequence of this preoccupation with the masculine self and its insecurities.
As one of the most competitive of institutions, academia brings this masculine insecurity about the
self to the surface. Conquest, competition, and control are the strategies for its resolution among the
men (and some women) whose intellectual prowess is deployed like gladiatorial skill in the Roman
amphitheatre. Of course, in terms of resolving masculine insecurity, it is self-defeating because it
reinforces precisely the conditions of that insecurity that is, the unceasing necessity to display a
competent self on each and every academic discursive occasion. As more and more “collaborate” in
the intellectual competition through which insecurity is sustained, it grows exponentially. This
aggressive and often macho masculinity within academic discourse can have the effect of silencing
women and those men who feel too insecure to compete. But this preoccupation with competitive
success in a social psychological sense within face to face situations can be too much even for
masculine subjects, not least because there are more losers than winners. Science, however, has
historically come to the rescue of masculine subjects intimidated by the precarious and uncertain
aspects of interpersonal dialogue and debate. For science provides us with a discursive space in which
to produce representations that in their ‘objectivity’ are authoritative and secure. The preoccupation
with representation as an authoritative account of empirical reality is, as Clough (1992) suggests,
not independent of the author's own desire for a unified and secure masculine identity. Of course,
this remains a hidden agenda, or is even denied any acknowledgement in a heroic (masculine)
struggle to capture the reality of the empirical world in a totalizing set of scientific depictions. As
Haraway (1997:57) has argued:
Science has been about a search for translation, convertibility, mobility of meanings and
universality – which I call reductionism only when one language (guess whose?) must be
enforced as the standard for all the translations and conversions.
She goes on to argue that at the base of this reductionism is a masculine version of objectivity which
stands ‘in the service of hierarchical and positivist orderings of what can count as knowledge’ (ibid.).
But this objectivity and its concern to produce orderly representations may be seen as no more
than a hidden desire to construct a reality within which masculine subjects can feel secure
(Lorraine, 1990; Game, 1991; Clough, 1992). Research appears much like a struggle to capture or
master reality as a means of constituting oneself within an orderly discourse. In the name of
science, the exercise of power is denied and the researcher's desire for a secure identity disavowed.
As Game (1991:7 our emphasis) expresses it, in her deconstruction of sociology:
"the fantasy of mastery is directly related to the fantasy of the possibility of
representation; it is to presuppose that it is possible for a subject of knowledge, a
consciousness, to have direct access to a world which is given, to know and to
represent an object. And, in this knowing, the self is constituted".
Page 14 of 20
The hidden agenda behind the production of knowledge, then, is the stability and/or elevation of
the author's self or identity for in providing some degree of certainty, orderliness and perhaps
even predictability through representations of the world, a space is created in which identity can
feel safe. Moreover, if the representations are acknowledged or supported by others, that space is
extended and identity is socially sustained and secured in its elevation. Ironically, when in
contrast academics explore the sense of self in their writing in an explicit and ‘open’ fashion
rather than concealed behind a façade of institutional knowledge, the masculine establishment is
likely to be embarrassed or hostile. Writing passionately as a result of falling victim to this
hostility, Mykhalovskiy (1997) provides personally meaningful insights about the power through
which the Academy disciplines and controls its members. Those who dare stray from its well-
delineated and rigid paths, especially seeking to re-embody and re-personalise academic work
are readily stigmatised as self-indulgent (Mykhalovskiy, 1997) apparently a crime almost as
severe as plagiarism in malestream academic culture.
It is not just in research that this ‘masculine model’ (Silverstein, 1974 quoted in Letherby and
Shiels 2001: 127) predominates, teaching also has tended to be constrained by a professional
conception of expertise. Knowledge is possessed by the academic and is disseminated to the
student through more or less formal media. This masculine approach to pedagogy closely
follows what Freire (1972) disparagingly called a ‘banking concept of knowledge’ where
students are seen as comparatively ignorant rather than knowledgeable. In the UK, a universal
Quality Assessment of teaching reflects and reinforces this masculine model since it follows a
one-way linear approach from a list of learning objectives in advance of a teaching programme
to expected learning outcomes at the end. Knowledge is not seen as emerging from a mutual
learning experience between teachers and students but as a form of instruction and
dissemination. While students may also be expected to ‘evaluate ideas independently’, this is
only ‘after they have understood the official interpretation thoroughly’ (Letherby and Shiels
2001: 127). Although women lecturers and students have no difficulty working within the
parameters of this highly cognitive masculine model, it does violate any experience of more
empathetic and supportive relations. An alternative is to engage students in the teaching and
learning experience by drawing on what they already know and enabling their discovery of the
relationship and relevance of this to whatever is the subject matter under discussion. Insofar as
women academics attempt to adopt this more ‘feminine’ pedagogic style without breaching the
masculine demands of the quality assessment, their teaching is likely to be more time and energy
consuming. Clearly the masculine model of ‘lecturing at’ the students is tailor made for the
academic more concerned with research and publishing as the key to a successful career. Yet
masculinity is a relational concept. It only makes sense, indeed it can only be defined, in relation to
femininity. Masculinity and femininity are locked in a dance where their respective positioning
constrains the space within which the other can define itself. However, the dance involves more
than an uneasy partnership of a single masculine and feminine identity. It's more like a crowded
club where different masculinities and femininities jostle and fight amongst and between
themselves. The mutual stereotypings and ‘put downs’ cannot be separated from the fear that each
represents for the ‘other’ but it is masculinity that is perhaps the most vociferous in its intolerance of
that which (e.g., homosexuality, femininity) threatens its precarious solidarity.
Page 15 of 20
While there are a multiplicity of masculinities that are fluid and shifting historically (Brittan, 1989),
what remains comparatively constant is the dominant position of men vis-a-vis women (Kerfoot and
Knights, 1993:663). Academia appears to be one sphere in which men and masculinity are locked
into one another in ways that, whether or not by intention, exclude or marginalise women and
Given the length of time that the UK has had legislation in support of equal pay and against sex
discrimination, it is surprising that universities display such problems of inequality of
opportunity. We have sought to investigate this in terms of the institutionalisation of principles
of meritocracy universally applied. But we have suggested that this universal application of
meritocracy works to the advantage of men as the result of a diverse range of discursive
configurations of masculinity. In terms of a practical politics to reverse the continuing
disadvantages that women, gays, ethnic and other minorities suffer at the hands of a masculine
appropriation of a universal ethics for academia, what is to be done? Some feminists are
attempting to establish an entirely new non-masculine approach to knowledge and science, and
to their epistemological content in terms of objectivity and reality (Haraway, 1997). One of the
solutions is to develop what Haraway (ibid. 57) describes as ‘situated knowledges’. As has
already been argued, we are unsympathetic to the epistemological relativism implied by this
notion but ‘purity’ and politics have rarely been good bedfellows (sic). Politics is about the art of
the possible and cannot be constrained by appeals to the purity of reason. In seeking to reverse
generations of sexual inequality, it is probably necessary simultaneously to support and criticise
meritocratic systems of equal opportunity or remain ambivalent in the same way as Foucault
(1984) suggests using enlightenment reason against itself. In this sense, we have to defend
universal meritocratic values insofar as they help women and minorities to challenge
discrimination on any other grounds, it is important to recognise the tendency for meritocracy
and masculine conceptions of reason to privilege what can be measured thereby reproducing
prevailing gender distribution of advantages within academia. In relation to the RAE in UK
academia, this would involve recognising that we cannot simply universalise the concept of merit
but have to situate it within the context of its use. We have seen some relaxation with regard to
individual women in this respect but it is still likely that their special circumstances is not taken
into account in overall assessments.
While the past then gives us only a little scope for optimism, currently in the UK there has been
considerable focus on the problems of sex inequality because it contradicts the very source of
legitimacy for liberal regimes and rationally organised institutions like universities. There is
some reason to be optimistic that the situation in relation to the opportunities for women may
improve in the not too distant future. However, one cost of this may well be a reinforcement of
managerial methods of organising universities that limit discourses alternative to those that are
supported by the “mainstream” (not necessarily though invariably also malestream) journals
recognised by the RAE and establishment pedagogic methods that are sustained by quality
teaching assessments. In effect, reform of some of these managerial interventions not only
legitimises them further but also weakens if not removes one very strong source of opposition
and resistance. Of course, real politics probably presents us with little choice but we should
always be aware that reforming managerial interventions is not without its contradictions.
Page 16 of 20
It can be seen as further institutionalising this highly managerialist system of control over
academics by removing one of its many flaws – sex discrimination in relation to submissions
thus further limiting any potential resistance. There is also an element of contextual application
in many university promotion schemes but they are usually entirely masculine in structure. So,
for example, at our own university experience in industry or the non-academic professions is
formally to be taken into account in selecting an academic for promotion but there is no formal
recognition of giving birth or mothering.
One way of understanding the problems of sex, ethnic and other inequalities of opportunity in
academia is to see them as having their basis in masculine reasoning around universal and global
concepts of meritocracy. Masculine discursive norms and practices have the effect of
legitimising the conquest of knowledge, the competition for scarce material and symbolic
resources and the control of anything that might constitute an obstacle to such projects. As we
have intimated in this paper, their ‘piece de resistance’ in the UK is the Research Assessment
Exercise (RAE) which further institutionalises these masculine norms and practices and the
instrumental rationality (Habermas, 1971) that informs and reinforces their reproduction. In
conclusion, while we have to support equal opportunity since it is the only ‘show in town’ in the
sense that it constitutes a reform that secures a general consensus in our society, we should retain
some elements of ambivalence. This is because meritocratic systems of inequality reflect and
reproduce the discursive practices of masculinity that present disadvantages to a majority of
women and some men.
Page 17 of 20
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Annex 1
Tables from Gender differences and activity in the 1996 research assessment exercise (RAE),
AUT (2000)
Table 1a: Research activity of all female and male academic staff, 1998-99
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in the 1996 RAE
Grand Total
Table 1b: Research activity of all male and female academic staff, 1998/99
(column percentages, by gender)
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in last RAE
Grand Total
Table 1c: Research activity of all male and female academic staff, 1998-99
(row percentages, by activity)
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in the 1996 RAE
Grand Total
% difference between all staff in this category, and
those active in 1996 RAE, by gender
Table 2a: Research activity of female and male full-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in the 1996 RAE
Grand Total
Page 22 of 20
Table 2b: Research activity of female and male full-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99 (column percentages, by gender)
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in last RAE
Grand Total
Table 2c: Research activity of female and male full-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99 (row percentages, by activity)
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in last RAE
Grand Total
% difference between all staff in this category, and
those active in 1996 RAE, by gender
Table 3a: Research activity of female and male part-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in the 1996 RAE
Grand Total
Table 3b: Research activity of female and male part-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99 (column percentages, by gender)
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in last RAE
Grand Total
Table 3c: Research activity of female and male part-time academic staff engaged wholly or
partly in research (unknowns excluded), 1998-99 (row percentages, by activity)
Page 23 of 20
RAE Activity
Grand Total
Research active in the 1996 RAE
Not active in last RAE
Grand Total
% difference between all staff in this category, and
those active in 1996 RAE, by gender
Table 4: the difference between the percentage of female academic staff employed, and the
percentage of women entered into the 1996 RAE by age group (ranked)19
Age Group
65 & over
24 & under
1 See, for example, Richards, 2001
2 Dominant masculine discourses in universities also have obstructive effects on the opportunities for others
including sexual, racial and handicapped minorities. The focus of this article is, however, on discrimination against
3 The RAE began in 1986 in what was then known as a research selectivity exercise intended to distribute ever
decreasing public funds to universities on the basis of ‘excellence’ rather than on the grounds of ‘equity’ (see
Harley, 2000; Harley and Lowe, 1998).
4 Of those cases actually making it to a tribunal, approximately half of sex discrimination claims are successful, as
compared to between a quarter and one-fifth of race discrimination claims: Equal Opportunities Review (1999).
Similar figures have been reported for previous years.
5 The remaining 103 were ‘disposed of otherwise’.
6 Equal Opportunities Review (2001) “Compensation Awards 2000” Equal Opportunities Review, No. 100,
November/December 2001, pp. 12- 26
7 This figure is likely to be an under-estimate, since HESA does not count contracts of less than .25 pro-rata.
However, it is also unclear how much of this could be double-counting: large numbers of part-time lecturers are
employed by the Open University, but also work full- or part-time for other institutions.
8 Professor Janet Finch, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University.
Page 24 of 20
9 In ‘new’ universities, the equivalent grade to senior lecturer is that of principal lecturer.
10 AUT (2001a) UK Implementation Of The Fixed-Term Work Directive, Department of Trade and Industry
Consultation a preliminary AUT response, May 2001; section 1.
11 HESA data, supplied to the Association of University Teachers, August 1999 (AUT 1999a).
12 The EU Directive on Fixed-Term Work came into force in 2001; the UK is still in the process of drafting and
consulting on its implementation regulations and the Fixed-Term Work Regulations will be finalised and in force
from October 2002, delayed from July.
13 AUT (2001b) Trends in casual employment in higher education.
14 David Blunkett, at the time Secretary of State, in a letter to the Chair of the Higher Education Funding Council for
England (HEFCE) dated 23 November 1999, expressed his 'deep concern' about the position on equal opportunities
in universities.
15 Equal Opportunities and Employment in Higher Education: a framework for partnership; July 2000.
16 Although as far as we know, there is little systematic research, we have considerable anecdotal evidence of
women who believe that not fitting in with the mainstream has adversely affected their careers. Of course, this is not
restricted to women and in the US there is even more evidence that quantitative research is the only career path.
17 Mercer v London School of Economics, decided on 13 April 2000
18 For a discussion of the demise of epistemes of representation within what would be viewed as critical or
postmodern discourses see Benhabib (1992). For an alternative epistemological approach that avoids treating the
world as a ‘thing’, see Lawson, (2001).
19 For the sake of brevity in table 4, data on proportional representation for male academics has been excluded.
... The massive incorporation of women into the labour market has occurred in Western societies, constituting new social normality (Ajenjo Cosp and García Román 2014;Falcinelli and Magaraggia 2013;Lutz and Palenga-Möllenbeck 2011;Maier 2011;Russell, McGinnity, and O'Connell 2017;Tobío 2012). In recent decades, many developed countries have experienced a growing participation of women in their labour markets (Knights and Richards 2003;López-Martínez et al. 2019;Nixon 2009). However, this greater participation of women in the paid job market is not accompanied by greater equality at work; quite the contrary. ...
... Regarding demand factors, it is usual for employers to hire women for some jobs and men for others, depending on the characteristics of each gender. However, it should be noted that, as labour providers, women can perform one job or another depending on their personal preferences and social and cultural values (Bettio and Verashchagina 2009;Powell, Bagihole, and Dainty 2009;Seron et al. 2016) or on the working conditions, such as flexible working hours (Bender, Donohue, and Heywood 2005;Kamerāde and Richardson 2018;Knights and Richards 2003). ...
Gender inequality affects the labour market of any territory. Despite government measures to eradicate it, it continues to cause discrimination. In this article, the gender inequality in the European labour market between 2002 and 2021 is analysed to advance the knowledge of this complex phenomenon. After reviewing the main theoretical contributions, the most suitable indicators are defined. The results reveal that the gender pay gap has increased in the European labour market, despite indicators such as the Gender Equality Index, employment rates, or levels of occupational segregation showing favourable progress. Therefore, governments must design efficient policies, mainly on pay equity, to achieve equal conditions in the European labour market.
... or rebel (e.g. Benckert & Staberg, 2001;Bondestam, 2004;Gomard, 2002;Højgaard, 2003;Knights & Richards, 2003;Mählck 2003;Maragoudaki, 2009;Sagebiel, 2010, Søndergaard, 2002. Furthermore, the lack of support and direct encouragement is seen as one of the relevant factors explaining women's lower propensity to apply for promotion and research funding (Lange 1988, Husu 2004, Leemann & Stutz, 2008. ...
... Looking at science occupations specifically, Leonard (1998) studied the type of posts created through restructuring the management hierarchy and concluded that a focus on finance, commercialisation and facilities management have strong masculine associations which have had negative consequences for women's promotional prospects. Knights and Richards (2003) further highlight that academic restructuring is coupled with a rapid increase in fixed-term contracts that disproportionately affects women. Many temporary staff are on research contracts, which are normally of a short fixed duration owing to the nature of research funding. ...
... Toplumsal cinsiyet eşitsizliğinin kadınlara karşı ön yargı ve cinsel şiddet şeklinde niteliksel formlarda devam ettiğini ortaya koyan Mollaa ve Cuthbertb, niteliksel eşitsizliklere yol açan yapısal faktörleri anlamadan, sorunu niceliksel açıdan (kadınların yetersiz temsil edilmesi gibi) tam anlamıyla kavramanın mümkün olamayacağını vurgulamış; yükseköğretim kurumlarındaki yapısal eşitsizlikleri ele almanın kurumlardaki güç ilişkilerine ve toplumsal cinsiyet deneyimlerine daha yakından bakmayı gerektirdiğini ifade etmişlerdir (20). Özellikle tıp fakülteleri için düşünülecek olduğunda, tıp fakülteleri, mesleki gelişim sürecinde yalnızca medikal bilgi açısından değil, fırsat eşitliği ve toplumsal cinsiyet eşitliğine dair bilgi açısından da geliştirici bir ortam sunmaktadır (21). Bu ...
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Amaç: Bu araştırma, bir üniversitede, akademik kariyer yapma ile toplumsal cinsiyet arasındaki ilişkinin incelenmesi amacıyla yürütülmüştür. Yöntem: Araştırma, Ankara’da bir üniversitede çalışan akademisyenler ile gerçekleştirilmiş olup tanımlayıcı niteliktedir. Araştırmada herhangi bir örnekleme yöntemi kullanılmamış, e-posta ile 68 sorudan oluşan çevrimiçi veri toplama formu akademisyenlere gönderilmiştir. Toplanan veriler, SPSS 23 istatistik programında tanımlayıcı testler, parametrik ve non-parametrik hipotez testleri ile değerlendirilmiştir. Bulgular: Araştırmaya, %43’ü araştırma görevlisi olan 117 kadın, 43 erkek akademisyen katılmıştır. Katılımcıların, %69’u akademik yaşamında ayrımcılığın en az bir türüne maruz kaldığını belirtmiştir. Kadınların %66,4’ü akademide kadın olmanın dezavantaj olduğu düşüncesindedir. Hane içi iş yükünde mutfak işlerine ve temizlik işlerine ayrılan süre kadınlarda erkeklere göre anlamlı derecede fazladır (p
... For example, Ryan and Golden (2006) argue that the reflexive lens is an important one for all data collection in sociology, noting in particular how reflexivity can lead to important insights into the emotional cost of researching sensitive topics. This means that reflexivity is also particularly useful for social and personality psychologists, who typically deal with sensitive, political, or complex issues, such as prejudice (Gawronski, 2019), stereotypes (Augoustinos & Walker, 1998) and discrimination (Kirkinis et al., 2021;Knights & Richards, 2003), social class (Kraus & Stephens, 2012), gender (Armstrong et al., 2014), voting behaviour (Oostveen & Van Den Besselaar, 2005), and group aggression (Goldstein, 2003). Ryan and Golden (2006) also suggest that keeping reflexive journals throughout quantitative research can provide a useful opportunity to add a depth of understanding 2 of 15 the research process, and thus, as we argue, contributes to the ongoing reappraisal of openness and transparency in psychology. ...
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Reflexivity is the act of examining one's own assumption, belief, and judgement systems, and thinking carefully and critically about how these influence the research process. The practice of reflexivity confronts and questions who we are as researchers and how this guides our work. It is central in debates on objectivity, subjectivity, and the very foundations of social science research and generated knowledge. Incorporating reflexivity in the research process is traditionally recognized as one of the most notable differences between qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Qualitative research centres and celebrates the partici-pants' personal and unique lived experience. Therefore, qualitative researchers are readily encouraged to consider how their own unique positionalities inform the research process and this forms an important part of training within this paradigm. Quantitative methodologies in social and personality psychology, and more generally, on the other hand, have remained seemingly detached from this level of reflexivity and general reflective practice. In this commentary , we, three quantitative researchers who have grappled with the compatibility of reflexivity within our own research, argue that reflexivity has much to offer quantitative meth-odologists. The act of reflexivity prompts researchers to acknowledge and centre their own positionalities, encourages a more thoughtful engagement with every step of This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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O artigo teve como objetivo desenvolver um instrumento para analisar como as universidades brasileiras têm atuado para buscar a equidade de gênero na profissão acadêmica, considerando suas diversas dimensões. A partir de uma amostra de Planos de Desenvolvimento Institucionais de universidade brasileiras, complementada com outros documentos institucionais, observa-se que as iniciativas ainda são escassas e estão mais focadas nos estudantes.
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There are fewer women in the upper echelons of accounting academia in Italy than in otherEuropean countries, and fewer female full professors than in other disciplines at Italian univer-sities. The purpose of this research is to investigate the barriers experienced by Italian women inaccounting academia and contributes with suggestions to alleviate these. The paper adopts aphenomenographic approach to identify the ways in which a group of 24 Italian women, atdifferent hierarchical levels, experienced barriers to their academic careers. The study identifiesdifferent categories of barriers that combine to prevent female perspectives and progressionwithin accounting academia. Underpinning these barriers is a patriarchal culture that has a sig-nificant influence on women’s careers in academia. The patriarchal structure in both the work-place and society, engenders difficulties in maintaining work-life balance, and shapes male andfemale roles in the academic workplace.The paper contributes to the literature on gender in the academic accounting discipline,exploring women’s experiences of accounting academia, linking findings of a persistence of pa-triarchy, and arguing for a more feminist academic organisation. This is the first research in thisarea to use a phenomenographic method to investigate the barriers to career progression forItalian female academics in accounting and in examining the experience of women at differentcareer levels, including those who have left accounting academia. The paper contributes toresearch on women’s barriers to career advancement, bringing new insights to the understandingof the gender gap in accounting academia and in making suggestions for structural change
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Drawing on narrative accounts of French business school staff and faculty about their experiences and observations of actions taken by different organizational actors in response to a trigger event, we theorize the intricate connections between organizational practices conducive to sexism and the persistence of silence around such practices. Specifically, empirical investigation demonstrates how managerial practices such as the allocation of organizational tasks and valorization of individual contributions prompt organizational members to assume a variety of stances toward gender issues. The enactment of these stances in various interactions provokes organizational counteraction in the form of sanctions, the establishment of a hermetic and formulaic communication regime, and public reinforcement of meritocratic narratives. This results in silence around organizational sexism manifesting as a collective and individual inability and unwillingness to react. This study contributes to a broader and rapidly developing literature on sexism in academic settings and the phenomenon of silencing in organizations by shedding light on the mechanisms of its persistence. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
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This paper outlines a new approach to the study of power, that of the sociology of translation. Starting from three principles, those of agnosticism, generalised symmetry and free association, the paper describes a scientigc and economic controversy about the causes for the decline in the population of scallops in St. Brieuc Bay and the attempts by three marine biologists to develop a conservation strategy for that population. Four "moments" of translation are discerned in the attempts by these researchers to impose themselves and their degnition of the situation on others: Z) problematization-the researchers sought to become indispensable to other actors in the drama by degning the nature and the problems of the latter and then suggesting that these would be resolved if the actors negotiated the "obligatory passage point" of the researchers' program of investigation; G) interessemen- A series of processes by which the researchers sought to lock the other actors into the roles that had been proposed for them in that program; 3) enrolment- A set of strategies in which the researchers sought to degne and interrelate the various roles they had allocated to others; 4) mobilization- A set of methods used by the researchers to ensure that supposed spokesmen for various relevant collectivities were properly able to represent those collectivities and not betrayed by the latter. In conclusion, it is noted that translation is a process, never a completed accomplishment, and it may (as in the empirical case considered) fail.
This work touches on nearly twenty years of men's responses to the challenges of feminism. Men have responded in very different ways, partly depending upon class, race, and ethnic background. Heterosexual men have had to respond to the phenomenon of gay liberation, so learning about the power men share both in relation to other men and to women: this has often produced fear and guilt, as many reacted defensively, unable to listen or to hear. The response to feminism has been a slow and difficult process, in which many men have sought to identify with feminism rather than to change themselves. In the 1970s it was easier to think that men getting together to share their experience in the context of consciousness-raising had to be a consolidation of men's power in relation to women. It was easier to learn to say the right things, than to explore the contradictions of our experience as men.