Making Gender Equality Happen: review

Congratulations to  Rosalind Cavaghan on the publication of the book of her award-winning University of Edinburgh PhD thesis – out this month as part of Routledge’s new series on Gender and Comparative Politics. Ros is currently Equality and Social Justice post-doctoral fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University, having recently completed a Marie Curie IEF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Radboud University in the Netherlands.


‘Making Gender Equality Happen’ looks at the implementation of Gender Mainstreaming, a policy which has been adopted by over 100 countries since 1996, but which has produced disappointing results.

In the years since its launch, Gender Mainstreaming has been plagued by a knotty problem. Many people outside feminist circles can’t imagine how to ‘mainstream’ gender. Indeed, the book opens with an interview where the author meets a civil servant banging their fist on the table, telling her ‘there is no gender problem!’

Cavaghan argues that the Sociology of Knowledge can tell us much about how to deal with these implementation problems, explaining and applying a new conceptual tool kit, ‘gender knowledge contestation analysis’ to analyse Gender Mainstreaming in the European Commission’s Research policy.

Cavaghan relays stories from her own time in policy consultancy which convinced her that we should understand Gender Mainstreaming as a process of competition between different perspectives, describing how she as a ‘newbie’ came to understand academic gender theories, only with some difficulty.

In this way, the book tries to make the cutting edge of academic gender theory accessible to new comers, describing how it can be difficult to put into practice and how to predict and circumvent problems translating rhetoric into implementation. As such Cavaghan’s book presents a more optimistic assessment of Gender Mainstreaming than many of her peers, though she also argues for continued efforts to theorise ‘resistance’ to gender equality policies, which she argues is currently on the rise.

You can order ‘Making Gender Equality Happen: Knowledge Change and Resistance in EU Gender Mainstreaming’, at a 20% discount direct from Routledge’s site using the code on this thumbnail flyer .

Cavaghan 20 percent Flyer-1

About genderpol

The blog of the Gender Politics Research Group, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh - and friends
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