University of Limerick
OConnor_2023_Is_Gender.pdf (1.85 MB)

Is gendered power irrelevant in higher educational institutions? Understanding the persistence of gender inequality

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-16, 09:43 authored by Pat O'ConnorPat O'Connor

For the past 30 years, many researchers have highlighted the gendering of higher educational institutions. However, many organizations in the broadly defined Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) area in the EU have varying degrees of interest, or academic staff available, in the gender equality area with many being largely unaware of this literature. This article draws provocatively on existing concepts to ‘make sense’ of the persistence of gender inequality. Such concepts include gendered organizational power, which is frequently taken-for-granted and is reflected at structural and cultural levels. The concept of legitimating discourses (including excellence, choice, women’s ‘nature’ and organizational gender neutrality) helps to explain why gender inequality is not perceived. Other manifestations of institutional resistance to gender inequality provide insights into why it is not tackled effectively. The article recognizes that gendered change does occur and uses the metaphor of bonsai-ing to highlight attempts to limit the impact of such changes. Finally, it identifies some key issues that need to be tackled.



Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 2023


Taylor and Francis

Sustainable development goals

  • (5) Gender Equality
  • (4) Quality Education

Department or School

  • Sociology