Category / Women’s Academic Network

Gender in Conflict Conference: WAN-funded event

On Wednesday 9 October 2019 Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers and I hosted an international and intersectional conference involving staff, students and Erasmus colleagues to debate issues of gender, violence and conflict in contemporary societies. We were very fortunate to receive funding from the Women’s Academic Network for this event, and for additional guest speakers who will be visiting BU in the coming months to contribute to discussion on this theme.

The focus of our ‘Gender in Conflict’ conference was to provide a platform for discussion and reflection on conceptualisations of gender and violence that have heightened visibility in post-conflict environments. We asked contributors to consider what we can learn from questions of gendered violence in a fragile international context and whether international lessons can be applied to social environments in the UK.

The aims were:

  1. To de-colonise and de-exoticise knowledge about gendered violence in war and post-conflict contexts abroad by going beyond stereotypical assumptions and representations;
  2. To interpret contemporary UK conceptualisations of gendered violence through an alternative lens inspired by international experience.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity of the Erasmus-funded presence of two visiting Kosovar colleagues who presented at this event.  Dr Linda Gusia and Assoc. Prof. Nita Luci are the founders and directors of the Programme for Gender Studies and Research at University of Prishtina, Kosovo. They are highly visible women’s rights activists in Kosovo. The post-conflict situation in Kosovo poses unexpected challenges to equal rights not only arising from classic patriarchal cultural legacies but also from masculinity reiterations in the totalising field of international intervention.

We were also joined by two BU criminologists of our own Department for Social Sciences who are working in related fields: Jade Levell on gang crimes in the UK and Dr Shovita Dhakal Adhikari on agency and interventions within human trafficking in Nepal. This conference emerged from our own academic interests in questions of gendered hate crime in the UK (Dr Jane Healy) and on questions of social justice in transnational and post-conflict settings (Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers).

Stephanie welcomes participants

Stephanie opened the conference by encouraging contributors and audience members to reflect upon the transferability of interpreting phenomena we often consider in their specific contexts alone and the limitations arising from differences in our epistemological framings of analyses, contingent on such context and distinctions such as ‘the Global South’. Questions of cultural translation, power, language and positioning can be perceived or experienced as barriers to engagement, rather than opportunities to share best practice. The aims of the conference were to critically re-envisage our contemporary conceptualisations of such concepts on the basis of comparison and shared reflection.

Jade Levell was our first speaker, with a paper entitled:  “The competing masculinities of gang-involved men who experienced domestic violence/abuse in childhood”. Jade’s presentation, drawn from her PhD thesis, considers the conflicted and competing gender performances by marginalised men who have been drawn into gangs in the UK. She demonstrated how these men are performing hegemonic masculinity in an attempt to claim power where they have none. This is conveyed through a language and symbolic rhetoric of war and honour.

Jade Levell introduces her research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nita Luci then spoke about “Researching Gender in the Balkans” as she traced the recent history of gender studies research in Kosovo. Her presentation began during a period where few academics were interested in looking at gendered experiences in the region to the emergence of the Programme for Gender Studies and Research in contemporary Kosovo. Through this timeframe, she highlighted the simultaneous re-framing and changing conceptualisations of masculinities in Kosovo.

 

 

Visiting scholar Nita Luci from University of Prishtina

 

 

 

Linda Gusia’s paper took this conceptualisation further. In “Recognition of Sexual Violence in Kosovo after the War” Linda highlighted the conflict between the hyper visibility of war-time sexual violence and a complete silencing of questions of gender and nationalism before the war. She considered how sexual violence against women was propagated by men, as an attack on the nation’s male gaze. Through a nationalist lens the concept of heroism was the prevailing public image and discourse. There was limited space for women’s own conceptualisation of the war as their stories were reframed through a narrative of sacrifice, martyrdom and atonement.

Visiting scholar Linda Gusia

In her paper entitled “Exploring Child Vulnerabilities: pre- and post-disaster in Nepal”, Shovita Dhakal Adhikari demonstrated similar patterns of silencing of women’s and girl’s experiences of human trafficking in Nepal. Shovita critiqued the application of Westernised concepts and labels to Nepalese society, particularly in regard to discourses of vulnerable victims in need of ‘rescue and protect’. Here again, women’s bodies are being controlled as a method of protection.

BU’s Shovita Dhakal Adhikari shares her research on child trafficking narratives in Nepal

 

Lastly, Stephanie chaired a panel discussion of all of the speakers, entitled “Inverting the gaze: Juxtaposing gender and conflict in transitional societies abroad and the UK”. This produced a lively debate around concepts of competing masculinities, vulnerabilities and visibilities of marginalised voices that could be drawn from all case studies presented. The conference drew to a close with contributors and audience members agreeing that this was an energising and engaging series of papers that showcased similarities in constructions of gender and gendered violence, both in the UK and abroad.

Participant contributions

Two further speakers who were unable to attend this conference at short notice were re-scheduled to visit BU this academic year:

  • Dr Emma Milne from Plymouth presented on Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the failed mother on 13 February 2020.
  • Dr Hannah Mason-Bish will visit on 23 March 2020 to discuss Gender and Hate Crime.

For further details or discussion please contact: jhealy@bournemouth.ac.uk or sssievers@bournemouth.ac.uk

FHSS PhD student Orlanda Harvey in this month’s edition of HED Matters

PhD student Orlanda Harvey featured in this month’s edition of HED Matters as Early Career Researcher (ECR) with an article on ‘ECR Spotlight: From Social Work to Studying Steroids’ [1]HED Matters is an online magazine about the use of legal and illegal substances to enhance the human condition published biannually by the HED network. It brings together recent advances in drug research and experiences from both drug users and practitioners. This December 2019 issue focuses on sexual human enhancers.  Orlanda’s PhD research project addresses men’s experiences of recreational Anabolic Androgenic Steroid (AAS) use.

Earlier this year she also published a peer-reviewed paper form her research : “Support for people who use Anabolic Androgenic Steroids: A Systematic Scoping Review into what they want and what they access” in the Open Access journal BMC Public Health [2].  Since there is a paucity of research on support for people using Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), this latter article synthesised the available evidence.  Orlanda’s  PhD I the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences is being supervised by Dr Margarete Parrish, Dr Steven Trenoweth and Prof Edwin van Teijlingen.

 

References:

  1. Harvey, O., (2019) ECR Spotlight: From Social Work to Studying Steroids, HED Matters 2(2):16-19.
  2. Harvey, O., Keen, S., Parrish, M., van Teijlingen, E. (2019) Support for people who use Anabolic Androgenic Steroids: A Systematic Literature Review into what they want and what they access. BMC Public Health 19: 1024      https://rdcu.be/bMFon

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”.

Negative student bias towards women and BAME academics – WAN panel discussion

A few weeks ago an FHSS colleague in the Women’s Academic Network (WAN) raised the issue of how women and BAME academics are generally negatively evaluated by students compared to White male academics. Most reasonable people would normally regard it as self-evident that the traditional, almost monastic concept of a gendered and ethnic homogeneity of scholars is far from the realities of a diverse and international campus. Yet it would seem old tropes remain embedded in unconscious assumptions regarding what constitutes a conventional academic. A quick look at Google stock images demonstrates this. Typing in the terms ‘lecturer’ and particularly ‘professor’ (given the common US usage of the term for most academic ranks), will throw up multiple images – but these mostly depict the same old stereotype. Reinforced time and again, these false projections of an academic norm are internalised by students and, no doubt, the general public, as the ‘genuine article’ – meaning that others that do not fit this image will be felt to be of lesser quality, being less legitimised and generally therefore more suspect. It is easy to move from this position to judging the worth of their educational (and research) endeavours as being inherently inferior.

Although this is not breaking news in terms of relevant research literature, the impact of how students perceive diversity among academic staff has yet to be properly tackled in an academic socio-political context, where great efforts are maintained to keep student customers happy. At the same time few academics can be unaware of the huge significance invested by universities in student evaluations, where in respect of the UK there is increasing pressure exerted on programme leaders and departments to achieve high NSS scores. At BU this pressure now embraces the mid-semester MUSE surveys in a tighter grip. Consequently if any BU students are subject to acting on unconscious bias towards diverse academics then there are now greater opportunities provided for this to be expressed in a punitive fashion.

It was therefore not surprising that our colleague’s point engendered a lively email discussion in WAN; and additionally very welcome offers from members to help to take this issue forward. In order to capture the moment, given this discussion was taking place precisely during the MUSE season, a panel discussion was rapidly set up. Invitations to attend the panel discussion were duly sent out across WAN and to other relevant individuals across faculties, beyond WAN, with leading roles in teaching & learning, monitoring and evaluation, together with diversity and equality agendas, including the UCU.

WAN makes a point of providing a respectful, inclusive and candid space for women academics and PGRs to feel heard and supported. This open-to-all panel event was in keeping with that aim. To an attentive audience attendees offered some deeply concerning accounts of conspicuous xenophobia, racism and misogyny via student evaluation feedback or in everyday encounters. Some of these abusive interactions were described as completely devastating, particularly as they were often expressed with impunity, where staff complaints about student offensiveness were regularly trivialised or ignored. Academics who had experienced or heard of such episodes felt that they were far from adequately protected by existing university regulations; and that a much more robust institutional response of zero tolerance was required to tackle pejorative discrimination in the student body. It is clear that unchecked, unfair judgements of academics based largely on characteristics of gender and ethnicity (although this may not exclude other facets as well), alongside growing institutional scrutiny of staff evaluations, serves to create a highly toxic and risky environment adding greatly to academic precarity and stress.

In order to explore this matter in the greater depth that it deserves, WAN will be hosting another and bigger open-to-all event in the New Year with a view to developing greater traction to move this extremely important issue forward in a constructive way. WAN may have done some heavy lifting here (we are aware of much other good work at BU on diversity and difference), but nonetheless there is a great opportunity for the academic community at BU to come together to ensure that on this issue alone misogyny, racism and xenophobia remains firmly outside of our institution.

If you are not a member of WAN but would like a personal invitation to the next event on this topic please email me (Sara Ashencaen Crabtree) on scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk

Likewise if you are not yet a member of WAN but would like to become one please get in contact.

Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

WAN convenor

 

 

Gamechangers with a heart: Women Entrepreneurs in India

Dr Mili Shrivastava based on her research in Women Entrepreneurs in UK and India published an article on Indian women Entrepreneurs in The Conversation. The article outlined how women entrepreneurs are creating businesses based on environmental problems while creating opportunities for sections of society.

The article has reached far and wide across continents and was widely shared on social media.

World Economic forum reprinted the article.

The article can be found here:https://theconversation.com/how-women-entrepreneurs-are-changing-indian-society-122352

 

Powerless Responsibility: A feminist study exploring women’s experiences of caring for their late preterm babies

A new publication by Dr. Luisa Cescutti-Butler (FHSS) and her co-authors (Professor A Hemingway & Dr. J. Hewitt-Taylor) which explores women’s experiences of caring for a late preterm baby using feminism as a research methodology has just been published in the Australian Women and Birth Journal (October 2019). Her research found that women who become mothers’ of late preterm babies have a complex journey. It begins with separation, with babies being cared for in unfamiliar and highly technical environments where the perceived experts are healthcare professionals. Women’s needs are side-lined, and they are required to care for their babies within parameters determined by others. Institutional and professional barriers to mothering/caring are numerous. For example: some of the women who were separated from their babies immediately after birth had difficulties conceiving themselves as mothers, and others faced restrictions when trying to access their babies. Women described care that was centred on their babies. They were allowed and expected to care for their babies, but only with ‘powerless responsibility’. Many women appeared to be excluded from decisions and were not always provided with full information about their babies. The research concludes by recommending that women whose babies are born late preterm would benefit from greater consideration in relation to their needs, rather than the focus being almost exclusively on their babies.

Luisa is Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) and Lead for Examination of the Newborn in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences. If you would like any further information please email Luisa on lcbutler@bournemouth.ac.uk

References: 

Cescutti-Butler, L.D. Hewitt-Taylor, J. and Hemingway, A., 2019. Powerless responsibility: A feminist study of women’s experiences of caring for their late preterm babies. Women and Birth, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2019.08.006

Cescutti-Butler, L.D., Hemingway, A., and Hewitt-Taylor, J., 2018. “His tummy’s only tiny” – Scientific feeding advice versus women’s knowledge. Women’s experiences of feeding their late preterm babies. Midwifery, DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2018.11.001

WAN seminar: Working Women and Flexible Working

Dr Zoe Young is one of those rare creatures: an academic organisational sociologist and practising consultant to industry for the development of gender-equitable policies around the issue of flexible working. She has recently published an important research monograph, based on her PhD, exploring the experiences of flexible working among working mothers. In WAN we were very pleased that Dr Young accepted our invitation to share her interesting findings to an engaged, mixed audience of academics and professional services, with a lively discussion ensuing.

Flexible working is often mooted as the panacea for gender-based inequities in the workplace in terms of stalling and interrupted career progression and gender pay gaps. Moreover, this is primarily a gendered issue as flexible working is most likely to be requested by women, and this for the equally gendered reason that it is mostly women who are expected to adapt their working lives to the demands of childcare.

The conventional argument for flexible working (which is different from part-time working) is that this will help women to balance family and work time better and in consequence will overcome gendered career inequities. But does it?

Dr Young’s research suggests otherwise, pointing out that there are multiple variations of flexible working that could potentially be offered to employees from a currently very limited menu. Not only is the menu unimaginative and meanly populated, but while women have a legal right to request flexible work, companies are under no legal obligation to comply. Her research illustrates the unnecessary stressors and casualties caused to women workers by organisations unwilling to adapt to employees’ changing circumstances – and how flexible working, as it is currently practiced, far from being a solution, may add to the issues that disadvantage women in the workplace.

At BU the benefits of promoting flexible working is being seriously explored by the Equal Pay Review Committee and by Athena SWAN committees. It is recognised that all posts ideally should be flexible working ones and that male colleagues should also be encouraged to consider new working modes in order to spread the potential benefits. However, as Dr Young’s research suggests, a very important outcome of ensuring greater gender representation for flexible working, is that it would also serve to minimise the currently feminised disadvantages associated with that elusive pursuit of a better work-life balance.

Prestigious Visiting Professorship at Oxford

Congratulation to BU’s Prof. Tiantian Zhang who has been awarded at Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford.  Her research area is cryopreservation of biological materials for medical applications.  Tiantian is now affiliated with the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, which is the University of Oxford’s first overseas centre for advanced physical and engineering science research.

Well done!

Prof Edwin van Teijlingen

Conference on Women Entrepreneurs and Innovators: Contemporary insights from Research and Practice

On 18th July, the conference titled “Women Entrepreneurs and Innovators- Contemporary Insights from Research and Practice” was held at the Talbot Campus. The conference brought together academics, entrepreneurs, professionals, and students to discuss cutting edge insights from theory and practice of women entrepreneurship.

The day started with Dr Mili Shrivastava, organiser of the conference, highlighting the importance of women entrepreneurship and introducing the speakers.  The first speaker was Professor Claire Leitch from Lancaster University. Prof Leitch is the editor of International Small Business Journal, a leading entrepreneurship field Journal. She presented her work on women entrepreneurship as a gendered niche and its implications for regional development policy. Following this stimulating talk emphasizing the role of geography for women entrepreneurship, Professor Helen Lawton Smith from University of London, discussed academic women entrepreneurs and research commercialisation by them at UK Universities. The third speaker was Erin Thomas Wang, founder of Makingmumpreneurs. com. She shared unique perspectives from her start- up journey.

In the afternoon session, Professor Lynn Martin, an academic entrepreneur from Angela Ruskin University, discussed her perspectives on women entrepreneurship from both research and practice. Following her talk, Dr Mili Shrivastava presented contemporary insights from her project with Gabriel Glixelli on women entrepreneurs in High technology industries. Finally, Ms Sarah Veakins, Marketing advisor of Outset, a government organisation advocating women enterprise talked about her experiences in supporting women entrepreneurs in the region and her perspectives on starting-up.

The Conference organically developed into a forum for compelling discussion on various aspects of women innovation and entrepreneurship such as gender, society, regional context and role of education that emerged throughout the day.  It became an innovative setting for stimulating discussion on cutting-edge research and practice of women entrepreneurship and innovation with entrepreneurs and academics coming together for an insightful and enriching day.

 

New edited book by BU academics

As a discipline and a profession, social work builds on a wide variety of methods and techniques for its practice. The broader frameworks of social work methodology guide social workers through the process of developing and creating interventions with different service users, carers and other professionals.

This book aims to provide an overview of current debates concerning social work methods and methodologies from an international perspective. It provides and enables exchanges about the variety of approaches and reflects the knowledge base for bringing social work theory into practice in different European settings and welfare contexts. It is a timely and welcome addition to the literature at a  time when European cooperation and solidarity is much needed.

Edited by Professor Spatscheck from Germany, and Professors Ashencaen Crabtree and Parker from the UK, this book comprises chapters selected from presentations held at the 17th SocNet98 International University Week at Hochschule Bremen and includes further contributions from throughout the SocNet98 network. The work includes a chapter by the editors co-authored with past BU Sociology & Social Policy students Emilie Reeks,  Dan Marsh and Ceyda Vasif.

“SocNet98 – European Network of Universities/Schools of Social Work” provides highly successful International University Weeks for social work students and academics from across Europe to learn from and share with one another. These study weeks have enriched social work education for 20 years and continue to do so.

New BU publication: Wisdom & skills in social work education

Congratulations to professors Parker and Ashencaen Crabtree in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences on the publication of their latest paper ‘Wisdom and skills in social work education. Promoting critical relational social work through ethnographic practice.’

 

Reference:

  1. Parker, J.& Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2018). Wisdom and skills in social work education. Promoting critical relational social work through ethnographic practice,