Being a feminist in the neoliberal academia
In the new book, ”Being an Early Career Feminist Academic: Global Perspectives, Experiences and Challenges”, twelve feminist researchers write about their experiences at academia today. In the book chapters, they reflect on different aspects of working in an increasingly neoliberal academia and discuss the position of higher education in society. Can ”being a feminist” in such academia offer specific ways of dealing and relating to the existing challenges? Themes like precarious conditions in academia, feminist work, and vulnerability constitute some of the chapter titles in the book.
Klara Regnö from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research has contributed to the book with her chapter “Challenges to Feminist Solidarity in the Era of New Public Management”. For this chapter, Klara Regnö has interviewed feminist academics who are in their early career and are not permanent employees yet.
– The interviewed feminist scholars describe unreasonable demands, unsafe working conditions, and a division in the academy where the gap between the feminism they intend to promote and everyday work is growing. They also experience a deepening inequality as early career academics become increasingly dependent on senior academics to get ahead. They often live on little money and do much of the work seen as less prestigious, including teaching which can be interpreted as a form of proletarisation of early career academics, says Klara Regnö.
Klara Regnö stresses that it is important to highlight the working condition of feminist researchers who are at the beginning of their career. However , it is important to discuss who is allowed to ultimately produce knowledge, under which conditions at universities today, and what kind of academia we, as feminist researchers, want for the future.
– The book raises the question of what happens to feminism in academia when new public management reforms and the growth of short-term contracts challenge feminist solidarity. what kind of feminism can exist in an academia that is characterized by competition and individualism? In this environment, feminist academics have to continue to promote a feminist agenda based on solidarity and equality in order to shore up the progress women and feminist researchers have made in universities, says Klara Regnö.
Read more and order the book here.