Activity: Talk or presentation types › Oral presentation
This paper explores the challenges faced by feminist academics in the current, uncertain landscape of higher education in the UK. The closure of many women and gender studies centres, and a general decline in gender studies courses more broadly, has created particular challenges for feminist academics. Of these, a major challenge is the weakening of feminist ‘communities of practice’ which in the past facilitated research, quality scholarship and teaching, and also provided support, guidance and inspiration. Further, an additional challenge is how the rapid changes occurring in higher education are bringing about an increasingly corporate organisational and educational structure and, at the same time, reinforcing patriarchal ‘professional’ norms. In this paper, we reflect upon how these and other challenges impact upon being a feminist and also how we might “do feminism” in contemporary academia. We discuss how, despite a growing feminist movement online and on the streets, in higher education academies we find ourselves increasingly at risk of “losing our feminist voices”. As the age of austerity grows deeper and universities continue to shift their focus towards meeting the ‘consumer needs’ of students rather than offering critical educative opportunities, being a “feminist” researcher and/or educator in higher education is becoming less feasible (if not less desirable). In the current climate where feminism and feminist knowledge are increasingly becoming marginalised, we explore potential strategies for personal, professional and disciplinary survival.