Women academics, social media and gender-based violence.

Dr Emma Kavanagh and Dr Lorraine Brown (FoM) have just published a paper entitled ‘Towards a research agenda for examining online gender-based violence against women academics’. Work on this topic was inspired by Emma’s research on the online violence experienced by female athletes and further influenced by work on sexual harassment by the Women’s Academic Network (WAN), which ran a symposium on the topic in June this year. The writing of the paper was supported through writing retreats organised by WAN. The focus of this paper builds upon the critical mass of research being conducted exploring inter-personal violence and gender-based violence in sporting spaces by members of the Department of Sport and Event Management, and the work of the Bournemouth University Gender Research Group.

There is an increasing call for academics to promote their research and enhance their impact through engaging in digital scholarship through social media platforms. While there are numerous benefits concerned with increasing the reach of academic work using virtual platforms, it has been widely noted that social media sites, such as Twitter, are spaces where hostility towards women and hate speech are increasingly normalised. In their paper, Emma and Lorraine provide a review of the current literature concerning violence toward women academics online and further provide suggestions for a research agenda which aims to understand the phenomena of gender-based violence more clearly and work toward safeguarding (female) academics engaging in digital scholarship. As they rightly state: “institutions such as universities that are increasingly placing pressure on women academics to engage in virtual platforms to disseminate their work have a responsibility in the prevention and protection of harm”.