Gender and Academic Work

Moore Institute Seminar Room

Date & Time
24th April, 2012 @ 13:00:00

Gender and Academic Work

24th April 2012
Venue: NUI Galway Moore Institute Seminar Room
The experiences of women in academic work have long been a source of debate.
Research over the previous thirty years has shown us that, for example, aspects of workplace culture in higher education organizations effectively constrain women's career advancement. Issues including homophily and related difficulties in finding
helpful mentors and role models, along with unintended exclusion from informal social groups. These act to hamper women's participation in important networks. Moreover, commentators have argued that academia itself is founded on inherently
patriarchical systems and structures, and that these emerge in the gendering of the division of labour in relation to teaching, research and administrative roles, along with working practices that present obstacles to fulfilling familial responsibilities and caring roles. In contrast to this, for others, universities remain ‘gender blind', with career advancement and participation ostensibly open to all. In this seminar we are fortunate to bring together scholars from Ireland and the UK who will present recent empirical findings and new theoretical insights in this area.

All are welcome. Please contact Kate Kenny to reserve a place.

The seminar is organized by NUI Galway's Work Society and Governance cluster, and the Public Policies and Gender cluster (Gender ARC).


1.00 Welcome
Marianna Fotaki, Reader in health policy and organisation studies.
Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.
Of women, gender and inequality in academe: Bringing feminism back to dispel yet another wicked issue

2.00 Tea and Coffee

Kelly Coate, Lecturer in teaching and learning in Higher Education and Vice Dean (Graduate Studies) in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies, NUI Galway.
Indicators of esteem: Gender and prestige in academic work

3.30 Pat O'Connor, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Limerick.
Organisational Culture in University Senior Management: A Cross National Perspective

4.30 Discussion and reflection: Anne Byrne, Lecturer at School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway.

5.00 Close

Please join us for an informal dinner after the workshop

Of women, gender and inequality in academe: Bringing feminism back to dispel yet another wicked issue
Marianna Fotaki
Women's underrepresentation in senior ranks across academic disciplines is well
documented. Yet, the majority of analyses of women's discrimination in academia
continue to focus on the institutionally-oriented approaches, and the importance of
structural barriers of patriarchy. This leaves the issue of subjectivity untheorised and
impedes our understanding of gendered academic institutions at work. The aim of this
article is to apply psychosocial approaches enabling us to think differently about the
socially situated subject. First, I draw on conceptions of women's ‘otherness' via
Irigaray and Kristeva, and then turn to Butler's (1997) idea of subject-ion, which is
sustained and reproduced as an instrument of the subject becomingness and the
precondition for her agency. Second, I apply the critique of post-feminism by
McRobbie (2009), with an intention to rehabilitate the demands of feminism as
pertinent to dispelling the logic of inequality and subordination of women in
academia as yet another ‘wicked issue'. The findings of a study looking into the
experiences of women in management and business schools in England are then
discussed in light of the proposed theory.

Indicators of esteem: Gender and prestige in academic work
Kelly Coate
This paper draws on recent work on the prestige economy in relation to academic
motivation by developing a gendered notion of prestige. Blackmore and Kandiko
(2011) have proposed a framework for interpreting aspects of academic work which
motivate academics to achieve success. Aside from financial gain, they propose that
academics are motivated by the work itself and factors related to prestige. Given that
women are less well represented at senior levels in academia, there is a question as to
whether there are gendered aspects to these motivational factors. Far from suggesting
that women are less motivated than men, I will use a feminist materialist analysis to
argue that women, for a number of socio-cultural reasons, find it harder to enter the
prestige economy in order to gain the indicators of esteem that they can trade for
further advancement to their careers. Data from a recent survey of academics at
NUIG on career progression will be used to illustrate how the prestige economy
operates to the advantages of those who have access to the masculine, homosocial
culture within this context.

Organisational Culture in University Senior Management: A Cross National Perspective
Pat O'Connor
Organisational culture is typically presented as meritocratic in universities. In that
context the under-representation of women in university senior management can be
seen as reflecting that absence of merit. It will be suggested that such a conclusion
ignores the gendering of definitions of merit in academia and the importance of social
capital in accessing such positions. Using data collected in a cross national study, and
drawing on Sinclair's (1998) analytical model, the paper will present a typology
involving denial; identification of women as 'the problem'; incremental adjustment
and commitment to a new culture. It will be suggested that, using this model, it is
possible to position the eight countries in the cross national study (i.e. Australia; New
Zealand; Portugal; UK; Turkey; South Africa; Sweden and Ireland). The paper will
conclude by suggesting that the organisational culture of Irish universities at senior
management level is not unrelated to the disinterest of the state in this issue. The
wider implications of the study for the perpetuation of gender as a social structure
(Reisman, 2004), with a particular focus on Ireland will be briefly discussed.

The event is supported by the Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy at NUI
Galway, and