Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leading the Pack

Time for a tidbit of self-promotion--on Friday, May 6, I was lucky enough to be a panelist in a "live" online discussion on the Guardian.co.uk site, which has a special section for postsecondary education. The topic of the day was "How do you promote female leadership in higher education?". You can check out the "Q&A best bits", which are a kind of summary of what each panelist contributed to the discussion. The full discussion with over 250 "comments" is available here.

Thankfully I can say that in sharing the links to our panel, I'm also promoting the other participants, all of whom were more experienced and knowledgeable than myself! Many thanks to Mary Churchill of University of Venus for "recruiting" me for the panel.

If you click through and take a look at the short version of the discussion, you'll notice that I made a point of highlighting the structural nature of women's work in the university, e.g. the fact that certain work tends to be recognised as more "feminine", including teaching and low-level "service"--a phenomenon not confined to the university. I also emphasised the historicity of the problem, that universities have for thousands of years been elite institutions operating in patriarchal societies.

I'm reminded of that last point as I research a presentation (and paper) I'm writing about gender, science, and meritocracy (using the Canadian CERC program as my example). It's a testament to the tenacity of gender norms/ideologies that we can still blame women for lacking "merit" when they "fail" to achieve high-ranking positions in scientific communities. To me it hardly seems like a matter of "excellence", when for so many centuries women have been excluded from participation in knowledge creation in its formal settings. Yet the arguments persist, as I've seen quite clearly in the news articles and comments I've been analysing.

Plus ├ža change...

[EDIT, June 6, 2011] Here's the link to the Prezi for my CERC talk on June 1st. I hope you enjoy it!

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