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Administrators or Critical Cynics?: A Study of Gender Equality Workers in Swedish Higher Education
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS).
2014 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 22, no 3, 204-218 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Gender equality workers have to perform a balancing act between feminist ideals for change and neo-liberal management trends. So-called audit discourses have gradually been introduced into Swedish universities, in line with an enterprise model. In this new context, the aim of our article is to investigate how gender equality workers at universities articulate gender equality and possibilities for change. What are their visions and strategies for achieving gender equality? This article is based on interviews with gender equality workers at three Swedish universities and explores how the legitimate gender equality worker is constructed. We found that there is a lack of visionary thinking among gender equality workers, which manifests itself in a sense that the distinction between visions and strategies has collapsed and technologies like auditing have become the vision. It seems that, whilst navigating between liberal feminist discourses and an increasingly neo-liberal setting, two positions are available for gender equality workers. The first is the "administrator", who asks for more tools and monitoring of gender equality, in order for the work to become more efficient and legitimate. The second position, the "critical cynic", makes scepticism and resistance to the increasing bureaucratization of gender equality work possible, but lacks alternative visions and strategies. Gender equality initiatives have thus become increasingly embedded in auditing technologies, and the possibilities for articulating alternatives or visionary ideals, beyond liberal values of anti-discrimination, seem limited.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2014. Vol. 22, no 3, 204-218 p.
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-91048DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2014.916346OAI: diva2:733527
Available from: 2014-07-10 Created: 2014-07-10 Last updated: 2016-04-15Bibliographically approved

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Keisu, Britt-IngerCarbin, Maria
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