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Marginalities and academic women

Grace I

Grace Idahosa is the project leader on marginalities.

The marginalization of women in universities has been the subject of a wide research literature which documents the challenges faced by women in these institutions (Acker 1980; Acker and Feuerverger 1996; Bagilhole 1993; Reay 2000; Walker 2010; Skelton 2005a, b; Dillabough 1999; Walsh 1995). According to the Education White Paper of 1997, ‘this problem of underrepresentation of Blacks and women especially in senior positions goes beyond the legacies of apartheid to deeply embedded sexist ideologies that cut across race and class (White Paper 3 1997).

Going beyond the numbers, Acker and Webber (2009, 486), argued that there is a wide gap between the position of women academics and the structures, cultures and practices of universities. The intertwined nature of sexist, patriarchal and phallocentric knowledge’s affects the existing structures and practices in academic institutions, producing various forms of discrimination, inequality, oppression and marginalization which are deeply embedded in the day to day interaction amongst academic staff and negatively affects the experience of the academic woman. Other work has related to subtle forms of silencing of women in the academy particularly concerning gender related issues, as a result of underlying practices, expectations and prejudices (see for instance Bagilhole 2000, 28; Skelton 2005b, 329; Walker 2010, 372). Academic women report feeling invisible and retreating to the margins so as to avoid victimization and discrimination, (Reay 2000, 18; Alfred 2001, 62).

Taking this research as its starting point, the aim of this project is to understand how women academics negotiate the terrain of the academy, what this process of negotiation entails, what its costs and benefits are and what the effects on women academics are of the discriminatory gendered environment that they encounter in academia.

To find out more about this research contact Louise Vincent (l.vincent@ru.ac.za)

Last Modified :Fri, 01 Nov 2013 11:40:38 SAST