Criminalising the Client: Institutional Change, Gendered Ideas and Feminist Strategies

In 1998, Sweden was the first country in the world to criminalise the purchase of sexual services, but not the sale of sex. The law represented a new prostitution regime that problematised power relations in prostitution as inherently gendered and hierarchical and made the male buyers of sexual services responsible for the act of prostitution. The Swedish case is critically important to the study of gendered institutional change and has been of empirical interest and global debate.

Using the feminist institutionalism approach to the analysis, Criminalising the Client offers new insights to the Swedish case and provides a new analytical framework for micro-level analysis of institutional change that addresses the struggle for meaning, institutionalization of new gendered ideas, and the (strategic) actions of feminist actors.

We invited the author, Josefina Erikson (Uppsala University) to tell us more about the study. The book is part of the Feminist Institutionalist Perspectives Series (Rowman Littlefield International).

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Sometimes radical shifts occur which alter existing rules and norms in society in a way which have major implications for gender equality. When Sweden criminalised the purchase of sexual services in 1998, without criminalising the sale of sex, such a crucial shift took place. The new law was a manifestation of a new way of perceiving and approaching prostitution; power relations in prostitution were seen as inherently gendered and hierarchical and (male) buyers of sexual services were made responsible for the act of prostitution.

Recently there has been a renewed interest in the Swedish case since several countries have followed suit and criminalised the client; for example Iceland (2009), Norway (2009), Canada (2014), Ireland (2014) and France (2016). The point of departure of my book is that the Swedish client criminalisation constitutes an instance of gendered institutional change. Regardless of normative considerations—the ban has received critique as well as praise— the ban is indeed an intriguing case from a gender perspective. The case is thus not only topical and of great interest in itself, it can also provide new knowledge into the dynamics of gendered institutional change, for example it gives the encouraging insight that radical change can in fact be the result of gradual, slow moving processes.

Inspired by feminist institutionalism [1] and frame analysis [2] (the book develops a novel analytical approach to gendered institutional change that can account for gendered ideational changes as well as actors’ strategies, and the interaction between ideas and actors.The usefulness of this new analytical approach is demonstrated in a rich empirical analysis of the Swedish political process between 1970s and 1998 when the client was criminalised. Over the course of these years the ideas of client criminalisation developed from a marginalised idea expressed by a few individuals, into a new institution (set of rules and norms). Our story begins when the demand for criminalisation was first raised outside parliament by feminist organisations, and it continues inside the parliament as women legislators from different political parties repeatedly advocated for criminalisation. While the resistance in parliament initially was strong, these new ideas gradually gained broader support and influenced actors’ understanding and strategies in favour of increased support for client criminalisation. Important steps included the creation of a consensus that prostitution was a problem in itself, the introduction of a gender perspective, and support for a causal story “blaming” clients. During the same period, the established social understanding of prostitution as a structural socio-economic problem rooted in poverty became more and more questioned. In the end feminist strategies played an important role for the final outcome.

The book’s main empirical finding is that the sequencing of frames—whereby the institutionalisation of an overarching abolitionist frame needed to be prior to the institutionalisation of a gendered frame— was decisive for the outcome in various ways. For example, it delimited the resistance. Another key factor for the final outcome was the commitment of female MPs from various political parties, including non-socialist parties, who worked across party lines in coalitions and the use of discursive strategies, for instance broad inclusive problem framings.

My work does not support previous claims that demands for client criminalisation emerged in the 1980s and had radical feminist roots [3]. On the contrary, the demand for client criminalisation arose from other sets of ideas and actors. For example, the demand to criminalise the purchase of sexual services was, from the very beginning, framed in terms of an unequal and hierarchical gender relation in the act of prostitution, although it was not framed as violence against women. In addition, women within a number of political parties were the most prominent advocates, not radical feminists.

In terms of theory, the book furthers our understanding of gendered institutional change in general and more precisely in demonstrating the endogenous process by which an individual idea becomes an institution. Various mechanisms at work within processes of gendered institutional change have been identified, of which sequencing, consensus concerning the framing of the problem, and gendering of the discourse appear to be the most important. In respect of strategies for promoting gender-equitable change, the findings indicate that lessons from other institutional contexts as well as inclusive framing strategies are significant. Finally, the development of a dynamic frame analysis is an important methodological contribution to feminist institutionalism insofar as it specifies analytical tools for analysis of gendered institutional change at the micro-level.

The book inspires scholars to bring in the role of ideas in the analysis of gendered institutional change and encourage a continued theorization on how gendered ideas and institutions interact.

Footnotes

[1] Krook, Mona Lena, and Fiona Mackay. 2011. Gender, Politics and Institutions:Towards a Feminists Institutionalism. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palsgrave Macmillan; Mackay, Fiona, and Georgina Waylen. 2014. “Introduction: Gendering “New” Institutions.”  Politics & Gender10 (04):489-494.

[2] Schön, Donald A., and Martin Rein. 1994. Frame Reflection. Toward the Resolution of Intractable Policy Controversies. New York: Basic Books; Lombardo, Emanuela, Petra Meier, and Mieke Verloo. 2016. “Policymaking from a Gender+ Equality Perspective.”  Journal of Women, Politics & Policy:1-19.

[3] Dodillet, Susanne. 2009. Är sex arbete? Svensk och tysk prostitutionspolitik sedan 1970- talet. Stockholm/Sala: Vertigo; Ekberg, Gunilla. 2004. “The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services. Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings.”  Violence against women10 (10):1187-1218; Gould, Arthur. 2001. “The Criminalisation of Buying Sex: The Politics of Prostitution in Sweden.”  Journal of Social Policy 30 (3):437-456.

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Naghma Abidi on ‘Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives’

Blog post by Naghma Abidi


In the moments of now, you are so much involved in the present and it is only when that moment has passed that you appreciate the full essence of it, even the subtle aspects of the experience that you did not realize at that moment that you were absorbing. This is true for the week at Edinburgh that flew by in a wink for me. It was only as I got ready to leave the boundaries of the United Kingdom that I felt the full impact of the time that I had spent with the team of Feminist Taleem.

My journey with Feminist Taleem is filled with several major milestones. It started with my becoming part of the host team for the Delhi workshop. This involved spending an intensive week with the project team members from Ambedkar University Delhi and University of Edinburgh. During this week, I found myself amidst other women who identified themselves as ‘feminists’. I was exposed to a diversity of ideas and experiences, and this exposure initiated a process of reflection. This process reached its height at the February workshop in Edinburgh when we, as a team, met again for a week-long deliberation. My ‘aha’ moment during this week was hitting upon the realization that women academics’ realities are so similar across different contexts in the North and the South.

However, in the run up to this ‘aha’ moment and the Edinburgh workshop, as such, I had been very apprehensive. All project team members were to present an auto-ethnographic paper about their engagement with feminism, and I felt apprehensive while writing my own paper for this presentation. After all, it was a part of me that I was transferring onto paper! A paper to be shared in the public domain would mean making myself vulnerable, and it is never easy in this world to deliberately place oneself in such a position, even if it is among fellow feminists where subjectivity is allowed to emerge. But when Lauren, another project team member and fellow PhD scholar, spoke about her fears during the workshop, I felt like it created a space to openly talk about my own vulnerabilities. It also strengthened my belief that only when we are able to create spaces to talk about our own fears ourselves that we can do the same for others.

In my doctoral research, and in my paper, I was trying to capture my maternal self and within that the essence of my own mother’s presence. I was also curious as to how others like me dealt with their dilemmas surrounding ‘womanhood’ and ‘motherhood’. My research question was: ‘Where does the subjective position of a Muslim mother in contemporary India lie?’ I suspect this subjective position is influenced by an identity that is increasingly seen as the ‘other’ by the majority in the society, in a world that is witnessing multiple instances of what is called ‘Islamic terrorism.’ To pen this ongoing journey as I hold conversations with other mothers is fraught with struggles as it requires oneself to be honest and dig deeper within – like an archeologist who excavates what lies hidden and yet influences deeply the present. It is for this reason that I was apprehensive – there was lots to write but I was struggling to write it, and that is also how the title of my paper emerged, ‘As I Struggle, I Write the Script for My Daughter.’

The underlying theme of our project is creating feminist classrooms, and the workshops in Delhi and Edinburgh truly offered not only formal but also informal feminist spaces where we felt enriched through exposure and sharing of new ideas. I remember the time that I spent with my fellow Ambedkar University students preparing for our visit to Edinburgh. We learnt to work together and got to know each other beyond the mere familiarity of faces seen on campus. Friendships were formed and our sense of togetherness was consolidated during the week spent in Edinburgh. The initial walk around town that Megan and Orla took us on in Edinburgh, and the subsequent feminist tour of the city will be remembered with fondness. In fact, the feminist tours of the city – quite different from the ordinary tours of the city which tell us about the history of a place – were, for me, the best features of both the Edinburgh and Delhi workshops!

At Edinburgh, what made the adage ‘the personal is political’ truly come alive for me was our visit to Professor Mackay’s home. She invited the whole project team over for dinner, giving us a glimpse of her ‘personal space’, and extending such warmth and friendship. I see this as a crucial aspect of our being feminists. When we open different spaces that we live in to include others we acknowledge the possibilities of intersubjectivities, thereby allowing for the existence of different identities and interfaces between them. That evening, all of us talked about our lives and our politics. Personal anecdotes helped build connections. Creativity flowed through music and poetry representing both countries. I think the evening was a demonstration of the kind of feminist space that we talk about creating for others around us, be it our students in the classroom or in our individual groups. From the informal space of the home to the formal spaces during the workshop, each of us was responsible for constructing an environment where we were able to speak because we experienced the feeling of being heard.

Overall, I loved the conversations about our lives and how this gets reflected in our work. It made engagement in the project so much deeper for me, personally. I loved the reflective pieces presented by each project team member, especially those presented by the students (not to say that the presentations of the faculty were not inspiring :)) as each one of them had something that spoke to me about what I experience in my own life. Therefore, hearing and talking about it was a relief. Being paired up with a team member from Edinburgh gave me an opportunity to get exposed to a work domain I was not familiar with. Sarah, who discussed my paper, helped me by asking questions about things I had not noticed, having been so close to my subject. I hope I was able to do the same for her. Reading her paper allowed me to think about ‘bodiedness’ and I was left with curiosity about how it would translate further in her work.

I returned back to Delhi, inspired to engage with my work with renewed energy that only comes in when your soul is refreshed.

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On the Collectivity of Feminist Pedagogy: Reflections on Feminist Sharing in Delhi

Blog post by Dr Lisa Kalayji


Some months back, I picked up Sara Ahmed’s eagerly-awaited most recent book, Living a Feminist Life. Opening it to the first page, I found the dedication:

‘To the many feminist killjoys out there doing your thing: THIS ONE IS FOR YOU.’

For several minutes I sat with the book open to that page, taken aback by how much it had moved me, and trying to figure out why. On reflection, it makes perfect sense. Feminist killjoys – and feminist teachers – operate largely in apparent isolation. We’re out there ‘doing our thing’, unyieldingly intruding on patriarchy’s otherwise smooth operation. It’s rich and rewarding labour, but labour nonetheless, and it’s often met with resistance, derision, ostracism, and sometimes much worse. We fight on anyway because it needs to be done, but the feeling of being an isolated feminist antagonist is lonely and exhausting.

When I read that dedication, I was immediately struck by a mental image of all of the other feminists out there, and just how vast a network we are. We each know that the others are there, doing the feminist work, pushing on patriarchy’s stubbornly solid walls, but that knowing is often not felt. For the most part, we don’t know who these other feminists are, where they are, or what they’re doing. We can’t see them, touch them, or hear their voices. We just have to keep pushing, and trust that the others are there pushing alongside us, even if they’re too far down the length of the wall for us to see them. Occasionally, though, there is a fleeting instant when our awareness of one another’s presence  – of the vastness of the feminist army – is really felt. Reading Ahmed’s dedication, I thought of all of the others holding that same book in their hands, strong and determined but weary from the long feminist fight we’re each fighting, each a one-person cell in a web too great to readily fathom. As individuals we do important work, but what makes feminism an unstoppable force in the world is that we are absolutely everywhere. That great web is indestructible and full of power and energy, reverberating with the passion, cumulative insight, and wilfulness of agitators, educators, and freedom fighters.

Fast forward a few months, and the Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives team is meeting for the first time in Delhi. We had only about a week together, which couldn’t possibly be enough time, but we made the most of it, sharing ideas, papers, reflections, travels, meals, and happiness. On one intellectually explosive day, we presented papers to one another and other interested attendees, and convened a roundtable discussion of our team as well as a range of other feminist educators. It would be difficult to convey the enormity of what a single conference room contained that day. Around a long conference table, and with a packed-out second layer surrounding it, was an assembly of feminist titans. By that, I don’t refer to the notoriety of some of those present (though some were widely recognisable), but rather to the immensity of wisdom, experience, conviction, and insight accumulated amongst the group present.

We shared reflections on feminist teaching and learning, and the challenging and ambivalent negotiations and travails that we each face in practising them. We were reminded that many of our students are led to feminist classrooms by deeply personal journeys, and of the incongruity of our responding by handing them overwhelming reading lists of esoteric theoretical texts. We heard about the difficulties of persuading women to pursue and finish their educations, and the disappointing concessions to patriarchal discourse that it sometimes requires. We examined the challenges of teaching anti-feminist men in a feminist classroom, and of being a pro-feminist man in educational spaces which mark feminist education as the sole purview of women. We explored productive and inhibitive forms of feminist and anti-feminist discomfort in pedagogical spaces, and sat with the encouraging but dissonant acceptance that ease and comfort are unlikely signs of transformation – feminism was never meant to be an easy ride. We shook our heads in frustration, laughed with glee, and nodded with fervent affirmation as we recognised one another’s feminist pedagogical journeys in our own.

What has most stayed with me after the event, though, was one particular narrative we heard near the end of the almost three-hour long session. After many interventions around the question of what we collectively called the ‘resistant subject’ – the mind which draws away from the threat of a burgeoning feminist consciousness – we were told about a young man in a feminist classroom who, after weeks of wrestling with feminist learning, submitted a revelatory essay at the end of the term. It began, ‘Let us imagine…’ before going on to engage in the vital practice of radically envisioning a more feminist world. There are infinitely many things to say about feminist imagining and what it enables us to do, but in the satisfied exhaustion of a long and enriching day, what most struck me was what this feminist teacher had to say next: She reflected that if our teaching leads to a student submitting an essay which opens with the phrase ‘let us imagine’, then ‘we’ve done our job’.

In that moment, the feminist super-network invoked in Sara Ahmed’s striking book dedication was present, not just through the experiences and reflections we had shared, but through the acknowledged collectivity of the pedagogical enterprise: ‘we’ve done our job’. Most of what we do as feminist teachers is, of course, teach. We enter classrooms, teach and learn, and are perpetually astonished at how much our students teach us. We, in collaboration and negotiation with students, do the on-the-ground intellectual, emotional, and relational work of bringing about the feminist world which we hope to co-imagine with them. But we do a lot of that work in isolation from each other, embedded in our classrooms and usually unable to see one another. With so many brilliant feminist minds gathered in a single room, the invisibility of the vast web of which we’re all a part was broken. We saw and felt the already-known reality that many of the thoughts, ideas, trials and tribulations, victories, defeats, frustrations, ambivalences, and pleasures that we each experience are ones that we all experience.

In our individual classrooms, compartmentalised and separated by university departments and national borders and the brute force of empire, we are collectively forging a groundswell of feminist consciousness. Political transformation cannot be stopped by walls or borders or boundaries, and though we always know that, the physical co-presence that our meeting in Delhi afforded us enabled us to palpably feel that knowledge, and to engage in a form of exchange which will fuel our pedagogical work and better enable us to continue the transformative feminist project that we, and our students, have embarked upon.

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Just a joke? #MeToo, Internet humour and feminist killjoys

2018-04-11 18.25.53Maja Brandt Andreasen is an AHRC- funded PhD student in feminist media studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her research project investigates rape discourse on humorous websites with the Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement as the case study.


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The #MeToo movement remarkably created a shift in the public debate where victims were considered truthful and where sexual abuse was discussed as a systemic problem. At least that’s the impression I got from the mainstream media and my left-wing, feminist Twitter feed. However, when looking into social media sites that encourage users to share humorous responses to current events, I get a very different impression of the reactions to sexual abuse. Through my PhD research I look at memes about #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein case on websites that encourage users to have fun and that “want to make the world a happier place”. My question is, though, who exactly is invited into this humorous space and who is excluded? You guessed it, this is of course a question of gender. The websites I’m analysing prove to be androcentric and heteronormative discursive spaces where users never mention their gender because they are always assumed to be male (and white, and heterosexual, and young, and able-bodied etc.). Should a female user reveal her identity she will be the target of abuse for having broken the unspoken rule of androcentrism, echoing the popular Internet trope “There are no girls on the Internet”.

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Image text: From Maja Brandt Andreasen’s data set.

As Judith Butler points out, language has the ability to injure us, to impose harm on us and is therefore not merely a harmless instrument of communication (Butler 1997). Similarly, I would argue that there is no such thing as harmless humorous discourse. It is never “just a joke” because our discursive spaces are always a product of our social, cultural and historical reality. When harmful or hurtful humorous discourse, such as dismissive memes about rape, is trivialised because it is “just a joke” it functions as a distraction from the structural problem with rape culture. A meme comparing Weinstein to Jabba the Hutt or a picture of a sock with the words #MeToo reveal a long line of assumptions about victims and abusers. In this example Weinstein is characterised as inhuman, as “other”, as something monstrous which distracts from the structural problem of sexual abuse. The truth is that sexual abuse isn’t limited to separate instances but is something most women experience to some extent, exactly what #MeToo pointed to. Also, comparing a sock (presumably used for masturbation) to a victim of sexual abuse not only ridicules the #MeToo movement, it also trivialises sexual harassment, abuse and rape.

What the sock image also reveals is how these humorous discursive spaces online function as androcentric communities. The humour is by men and for men which then often means that women are the punch-line of the jokes. As mentioned above, the consequence for female voices on these online spaces is verbal abuse. Humour here becomes a tool for inclusion and exclusion with a male producer of humorous content on one end of the spectrum and a female voice of disruption on the other. Female disruptive voices are dismissed and deemed humourless, in fact the trope of the humourless feminist is a favourite in these communities that consider themselves as a sort of freedom fighters in the feminist war against free speech. Again I ask: who exactly has access to freedom of speech and who is limited by it? Sara Ahmed (2010) refers to this disruptive feminist voice as a “feminist killjoy”. This is the person who protests, who speaks up and disrupts the spaces of joy and happiness which are only reserved for some and which marginalises and excludes others. I find the feminist killjoy to be an incredibly powerful, encouraging and empowering image when dealing with humorous rape discourse online. Victim blaming, rape myths and trivialisation of rape thrive in these spaces and I for one am not going to dismiss perpetuation of rape culture as “just a joke”. I wear my Feminist Killjoy t-shirt with pride. And by the way, I have an excellent sense of humour.

 

Works cited:

Ahmed, Sara. 2010. “Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects).” The Scholar and Feminist Online 8 (3).http://sfonline.barnard.edu/polyphonic/ahmed_01.htm.
Butler, Judith. 1997. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Perfomative. London: Routledge.

 

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The UCU strikes: a battle for the future of Higher Education | British Politics and Policy at LSE

What type of university system do we want? One with a casualised workforce and vice-chancellors who can claim they deserve exorbitant pay packages for running
— Read on blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-ucu-strikes-a-battle-for-the-future-of-higher-education/

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Another year – and another chance to read genderpol’s top blogs of 2017

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Graffiti: AUD Delhi Campus

Happy New Year to all our genderpol readers! To mark the beginning of a new year, we’re taking the opportunity to revisit the most-read blogs of 2017. Enjoy!

In November, we posted a series of blogs to raise awareness of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. Guest bloggers Lesley McMillan (Glasgow Caledonian) [link] and Deborah White (Trent University, Ontario) kicked off the series with a thought-provoking piece entitled Technologising Rape and Sexual Assault: Can we really innovate the problem away?  They examined a growing trend in ‘anti-rape’ technologies (prototypes and on-the-shelf products) which range from the farcical to the, frankly, sinister. They argue such technologies commodify the safety of women, misplace responsibility for rape and sexual assault on everyone except the perpetrator, and misrepresent the issue as individualised rather than society-wide.

Introducing genderED: A new hub for gender and sexuality teaching and research at University of Edinburgh  reported on the launch in 2017 of a new virtual portal that links researchers, students and teachers across the institution. We’re proud that the genderpol blog will provide a platform for the new hub in 2018.

We’ve been reporting on the under representation of women in Scottish politics and beyond since we started up the blog five years ago. In May Meryl Kenny, Fiona Mackay and Judith Sijstermans  (all University of Edinburgh) posted their latest report: Here We, Here We, Here We … Go (Again): Women and the 2017 Local Government Elections.  Although there was a small rise in the number of female councillors, less than one in three Scottish councillors is a women. A case of another year and another missed opportunity to achieve equal representation in Scottish politics…

In March, on International Women’s Day, we celebrated the end of an ambitious project by University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) to use social media to pose the question What is a Dangerous Woman? 365 days and more than 400 posts later the project succeeded beyond all expectations – and had grown a new global online community. In Reflections on a Year of Dangerous Women: Speaking Out, Listening, Resisting and Persisting! @genderpol’s Fiona Mackay – a member of the Dangerous Women Project Advisory Board – reflected on what a year of Dangerous Women has meant to her.

Thanks for your support and happy reading in 2018!

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Conversation with Emma Ritch, Engender

Christina Neuwirth, 11.12.17

CN: Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today! I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about Engender before we begin?

ER: Sure! Thank you for having me. Engender is Scotland’s feminist and advocacy organisation. Its membership is made up of a combination of organisations and individual. Engender works with other organisations on women’s social, economic, cultural and political equality.

CN: Great, thank you. So, in our email conversation you mentioned that you wanted to talk about primary prevention of sexual harassment. Can you talk a little bit more about that? I think my mind always jumps straight to health care when I hear the words ‘primary prevention,’ so I would be interested in learning more about how it works in this context.

ER: Of course! All primary prevention in terms of violence against women is based on the fact that women’s inequality is what leads to violence against women. In a workplace context that means that we should have mechanisms for reporting, investigation, sanctions when people breach the rules about sexual harassment, but we also need to prevent it in the first place. We can do this by getting rid of stereotypes and creating cultures that enable people to be themselves; creating an environment that is free from micro-aggressions dressed up as “banter”. We need to address the pay gap and the ways in which success is measured. The idea is: how can we make an atmosphere that is hostile to sexual harassment? We need to create an environment that respects women and does not reduce them.

CN: Thank you. If I was an employer, what would be some good practices for me to put in place? For example, I’m thinking that, if there were more women working in management positions, women employees might find it easier to report sexual harassment…?

ER: Yes – but primary prevention would address this before it even becomes an issue, to prevent it happening in the first place. Of course, if you’re an employer, you should have good policies to respond to sexual harassment when it occurs, but you should also be building the capacity of your workforcue to treat women as equal, to remove as many as the barriers to women as you can whether those are inside or outside of the workplace. Look at your whole workplace culture: where do you have your away days? Do you play golf or go to lap dancing bars where women may be made to feel unwelcome? How do you as an employer measure success? Do you solely incentivise risk taking, or do you also incentivize teams, collaboration and mentoring? The hidden, domestic labour that women do at work like making sure that everyone gets a birthday cake, pastoral care in academia – just build in thinking about the full picture of what people need to do at work when you’re thinking about who does well. When it comes to promotions, are you considering people who work part-time or flexible hours? Are you enabling women to work part-time if this suits them? You should encourage them and build their capacity to apply for jobs – as we know, women are less likely to apply when they feel that they don’t meet the full application criteria. Respect the talents and skills of everyone in the organisation and don’t undervalue or stigmatise work – for example, administrative work is often seen as not difficult and not requiring skill, which of course is wholly untrue.

CN: Thank you! Do you have any resources you feel I could link to at the end of this interview for our blog readers, so they can find out more?

ER: Think Business, Think Equality resources are very easy to use and include self-assessment and a tailored action plan. Close the Gap have done a whole set of modules for employers. Their resources can help employers to be better employers of women, specifically.


Christina Neuwirth is co-ordinator of the new gender and sexuality studies hub genderED. She is also a PhD researcher in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling, where she is looking into gender equality in contemporary Scottish writing and publishing.

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