Gender and Feminism in the Social Sciences

Gender and Feminism in the Social Sciences: Equity, Excellence and Knowledge in the Disciplines

In 2012 a pilot project entitled Gender and Feminism in the Social Science was initiated, looking at the relationship between the gender profile of four social science disciplines and their incorporation of feminist critique and knowledge. The project was funded by the Research School of Social Sciences, the Gender Institute and a College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) pilot grant. It covered Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science and History and the project leaders were Marian Sawer, Ann Curthoys, Ann McGrath, Fiona Jenkins and Helen Keane.

Publications included:

A workshop covering the four disciplines was held in December 2012 and provided the basis for a special issue of Australian Feminist Studies published in June 2014. The special issue contained 10 articles stemming from the workshop and the text of a public lecture presented in conjunction with it.

This very fruitful pilot project led to a successful application to the Australian Research Council for funding in the 2015 Discovery round. Funding of $397,514 was awarded for the project 'Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences' (DP1501104449). The project now covered five disciplines as well as research governance frameworks. The Chief Investigators are Fiona Jenkins, Helen Keane and Marian Sawer, while Claire Donovan (Brunel University) is Partner Investigator. Rebecca Pearse and Monica Costa have worked as post-doctoral fellows on the project and Karen Downing has provided continuing support.

Gender equity has still not been realised, despite decades of activism, policy and research. In some of the social sciences women make up less than 15 per cent of the professoriate. Yet these are the disciplines that should most aid our understanding of how gender works in society. Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences asks what impact women’s limited influence and status in these key fields of research has upon our capacity to grapple with the social and political changes necessary for progress toward gender equality. In doing so, it builds persuasive arguments about how and why gender matters in the social sciences.

The project provides a complex picture of why social science disciplines differ so markedly in terms of patterns of gender bias and the costs for disciplinary innovation and social change. Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences is the first project to move beyond internal studies of gender within disciplines to a detailed comparison of the patterns and trajectories found across the social sciences. Data collected by the project and project publications can be seen on the project website.

In 2016 the project held an international conference on Gendered Innovations in the Social Sciences and workshops on three of the five disciplines covered in the project, including the Gendered Innovation in Political Science Workshop. The workshop was funded under the Australian Political Studies Association’s workshop program and was co-funded by the School of Politics and International Relations (ANU) and the ANU’s Gender Institute.

The book arising from this workshop, Gendered Innovation in Political Science: New Norms, New Knowledge is being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

A list of other project publications can be seen here. The project has also developed highly readable case-studies of gender innovation in the social sciences and its benefits, which are published on the website.

Updated:  2 January 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications