PSA Annual Conference – Panels on Women, Gender and Politics

For those attending the PSA Annual Conference in Sheffield this week, there are a number of panels and other sessions on women, gender and politics that you may be interested in attending.

We also hope that you can make it to our Specialist Group Business Meeting at the Conference, which will take place Monday 30 March, 13.00-14.00 in Committee Rm 2 (Town Hall).

List of Panels/Sessions (please get in touch if you would like to add something to this lineup):

See you in Sheffield!

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A political earthquake forecast for Scotland – but will there be a genderquake?

Originally posted on Gender Politics at Edinburgh:

By Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay

This blog was originally posted on the Political Studies Association’s Blog for International Women’s Day 2015.

The 2015 General Election has the potential to be one of the most unpredictable electoral contests in British political history, with no party likely to win a majority. Amidst all the post-election scenario discussions, however, lies one certainty – on 7 May the Scottish political landscape will be fundamentally rewritten. The post-referendum political shakeup continues, with recent polling suggesting that the SNP could win 56 of Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats, a political earthquake that would mark the final death knell of Labour’s political dominance north of the border (though other estimates, including the PSA’s own, have been more conservative).

The question on everyone’s minds is what happens next – who will hold the balance of power? With the SNP almost certain to be the third largest party…

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Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (II)

Originally posted on Stephen R. Bates:

by Fran Amery, Stephen Bates & Steve McKay

This is the second of two posts on gender and the Research Excellence Framework (you may also be interested in this post on what titles of outputs submitted to the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment tell us about (sub-)disciplinary trends).

In our first post, we used the REF submissions data in order to offer a new ‘survey’ of political scientists. We looked at the ratio of men to women across different universities, and with different levels of seniority. In this post, we focus more on the outcomes of the REF and, in particular, the association between the outcomes and the proportion of men and women in each submission.

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Gender & the Research Excellence Framework: An Analysis of the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment (I)

Originally posted on Stephen R. Bates:

by Fran Amery, Stephen Bates & Steve McKay

Ever wondered about the gendered dimensions of the REF returns and rankings for the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment? Well wonder no longer.

1320 people were submitted to the Politics & International Studies Unit of Assessment of REF 2014. Of these, 929 were men, 387 were women with 4 not known*. This means that, excluding not knowns, 29.4% of those submitted to the REF were female, a slightly lower percentage than the percentage of UK-based female political scientists in Bates et al.‘s 2011 survey of the profession (see Table 1).

Table 1: Number & percentage of male & female political scientists submitted to REF 2014 & in 2011 Survey

Male Female Overall2

Tables 2 and 3 show breakdowns of these statistics in terms of job title and gender**.

Table 2: Numbers of Male & Female Political Scientists by Job Title and in…

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New Publication: The Women’s Movement and Government

australian women's movementMarian Sawer and Gwendolyn Gray Jamieson (both ANU) have been examining propositions that women’s movement entanglement in the state is responsible for ‘feminist fading’. To read the full article, published in Australian Feminist StudiesCLICK HERE.

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Call for Papers: Women, Gender and Political Leadership Workshop, Friday 15 May



One Day Workshop

Friday 15 May 2015

Birkbeck, University of London

Call for Papers

The study of leadership is a growing area of political studies. However, the issue of
gender and leadership remains relatively understudied. The increasing prominence of female leadership and recruitment, from the major parties in Scotland to the US Presidential race, has given the discussion a new urgency and importance. This event, coming so soon after the general election, will examine in detail the challenges for women in office and the means by which they can attain it.

This one day symposium will examine how gender can influence leadership and how political leadership influences and sets barriers for aspiring women leaders. The workshop will examine case study and comparative evidence as to how gender can influence public office holders, asking questions such as:

  • What are the particular obstacles than female leaders face when in power?
  • Do female leaders ‘perform’ leadership in different ways?
  • Does women’s political leadership result in ‘women-friendly’ policy outcomes?
  • How do female leaders compare in terms of experience, achievement and longevity with male counterparts?

The workshop will also examine the key related issue of recruitment.

  • How does gender affect patterns of recruitment to political office? How do these patterns vary or shift over time?
  • Does gendered access to cabinet or executive leadership positions differ from that of legislative positions?
  • How have innovations such as gender quotas worked to aid or inhibit recruitment?

The organisers encourage papers on any of the above themes and others relating to women, gender and political leadership.

Please send an abstract of up to 300 words to Amarjit Lahel by 31 March 2015. The workshop is jointly organised by the PSA Political Leadership Specialist Group and the PSA Women and Politics Specialist Group. It will be supported by Birkbeck University and Canterbury Christ Church University. Any queries contact Dr Mark Bennister or Dr Meryl Kenny


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Gender inequality in academia: not just about numbers

frances-amery-28575-0236By Fran Amery, University of Bath (Co-Convenor of the PSA Women and Politics Specialist Group)

Discussions of gender inequality tend to focus on numbers: that is, the numbers of women represented in a certain positions. Whether the focus is gender ratios in Parliament or the Cabinet, recipients of STEM degrees, or in the boardroom, equal participation of women is often treated as the benchmark of gender equality.

This pattern is sometimes reflected in conversations about gender inequality in academia. In particular, proposed solutions to gender inequality in STEM disciplines often focus on encouraging girls to choose science, in order to create a ‘pipeline’ of young women who will go on to become researchers and academics.

There is, however, a problem with this focus on numbers: increasing the number of women in an organisation or in leadership positions does not always lead to drastic change within that organisation. Political science research has found, for instance, that increasing numbers of women in legislatures can make little difference to policy decisions when socially conservative attitudes are entrenched in the political culture. Similarly, research on gender in academia finds that increasing numbers of women in disciplines such as engineering do not necessarily translate into a decrease in levels of discrimination against women; when sexist attitudes are entrenched, women may assimilate to the dominant culture rather than challenge it.

None of this is to argue that equal participation is not important. There is, at least, evidence that better representation of women is a necessary if not sufficient condition of gendered organisational change – not to mention that it is inherently fairer.

However, focusing on numbers can conceal structures and practices that disadvantage women. A few of the hurdles facing women academics are outlined below.

Tensions between work and family life are often found by women academics to be a major problem. Academic life is structured on the model of an (implicitly male) ‘ideal worker’ who either does not have children, or has a wife who deals with the majority of the housework and childcare – and is therefore able to devote evenings and weekends to work. Those who do not conform to the model are thus at a disadvantage when it comes to productivity. It is not, of course, only ever women who face this difficulty. But women are more likely to find themselves in the position of having to juggle work and family life, and more likely to leave academia due to the perception that the two are incompatible.

Further to this, academic roles are often gendered. First of all, women are more likely to be employed on part-time and temporary contracts, with the accompanying lack of stability and difficulty of career progression. But academic roles are also gendered in that women are more likely to be assigned stereotypically ‘feminine’ roles. Women are more likely to work in teaching-only positions, or to have a higher teaching load. Additionally, women may be more likely to find themselves engaged in ‘institutional housekeeping’ such as committee work and preparation of reports, alongside the emotional work of pastoral and care roles. These roles are generally institutionally devalued, and unlike research, unlikely to be rewarded with promotion.

Another problem relates to professional networking. Research shows that women have difficulty gaining access to ‘male’ academic networks. This can be due to time constraints – those with childcare responsibilities may not be able to participate in out-of-hours socialising – but in addition women may simply not be invited into these networks. This process can start as early as during doctoral research: women PhD students are less likely to form the same bonds with their male supervisors as men. The effect of this is that women are less likely to be invited to collaborate, less likely to be encouraged to apply for jobs or promotions, and excluded from informal decision-making.

Finally, there is the matter of discrimination. Sexism remains a problem even in ‘enlightened’ academia, and discrimination against BME and working-class women is even more intense. Heather Savigny’s interviews with women academics highlight the cultural sexism women face, from sexualisation to the assumption that ‘women aren’t good at research’. What is most concerning about her findings is the number of women who feared repercussions if they were identified.

While efforts to encourage women and girls into STEM are helpful, they do not tackle many of the underlying problems. These are problems which go beyond raw numbers, and indeed may be concealed when it is assumed that increasing rates of participation lead to lower levels of inequality overall.

This blog was originally posted on the Wiley International Women’s Day Research Blog

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