Gender, Quality And Power


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Gender, Quality And Power

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Gender, Quality And Power

  1. 1. Gender, Quality and Power in Higher Education Professor Louise Morley University of Sussex, UK (
  2. 2. Sources of Data Quality and Power in Higher • Education (Morley, 2003) Gender Equity in Commonwealth • Higher Education (Morley et al. 2006) Negotiating Equity in Higher • Education (Deem and Morley, 2005)
  3. 3. Transformative Potential Quality assurance and feminism have: • attempted to deconstruct • reconstruct the academy • Does quality incorporate an understanding of gender equity? • Would including gender equity in QA politically neutralise/ bureacratise it?
  4. 4. Accounting Systems in UK Higher Education • Quality of teaching and learning (via institutional audits/ academic disciplines) • Quality of research (via the Research Assessment Exercise)
  5. 5. Impact of Quality Assurance • Changing Social Relations • Changing Pedagogical Relations • The Affective Domain • Changing Priorities • Changing Professional Identities • Increased workloads
  6. 6. Articulations of Ambivalence As a discourse, quality is polysemic and multidimensional. Interventions perceived as: transformation and democratisation by some a form of symbolic violence, or state-legitimated bullying by others
  7. 7. Equality Silences in Quality Assurance • What signs of quality are audited and promoted? • Is excellence represented as value free? • Are students treated as a social bloc - undifferentiated by gender, race, social class, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or age? • Are equity and diversity issues in employment excluded? • Does the culture of contractualism and service- level agreements socially decontextualise HE?
  8. 8. Gender and Quality • Quality accolades do not coincide with equity achievements • QA reinforces gendered employment regimes in the academy • QA offers possibilities for subversion or rearticulation
  9. 9. Opportunity or Exploitation? • Quality assurance is a regime of power. • It appears to offer repressive and creative potential for women.
  10. 10. Creative • Women gain new visibility as a new cadre of quality managers. • Recognition of feminist scholarship.
  11. 11. Productivity, rather than Ideology I mean the RAE, I know this is not a normal view, but I • know several female colleagues who were on the temporary treadmill forever. But then as soon as they had a lot of publications they started getting jobs immediately. Whereas before at an earlier stage of our careers, when we didn’t have any publications, and everything was just down to sort of, you know, personal likes and dislikes at interviews, and all of a sudden we got jobs and were promoted very quickly. And I know a lot of people think the RAE disadvantages women…But I actually think that sometimes it is an advantage. Because places, I tend to think the more prestigious institutions are the ones with the most hidden snobbery, but they need to achieve good results in terms of the RAE like everybody else. If you’ve got a lot of research these days they tend to pick you even if you’re not their type (Senior Lecturer in Morley, 2003).
  12. 12. Subversion and Rearticulation Enhancing the rights/ • entitlements of less powerful groups e.g. students with dyslexia
  13. 13. Repressive Hegemonic masculinities/ gendered power relations reinforced by emphasis on: • competition • targets • audit trails • performance
  14. 14. Gendered Divisions of Labour • New moral economy • New type of campus citizenship • Polarised employment regimes Teaching quality is female-dominated Research quality is male-dominated
  15. 15. Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) Some elite research organisations in Britain, with consistently high RAE scores have the worst record on gender equity. 8.8 per cent of Cambridge professors and 9.5 per cent of Oxford professors are women (compared to a national average of 13 per cent). In the 2001 RAE, fewer than one in four panel members and only one in seven of the panel chairs were women. Men are almost twice as likely to be entered in the RAE than women (Knights and Richards, 2003).
  16. 16. Value Clashes? • QA can reinforce norms and standardisation that work against diversity. • Are individualistic, rather than collective values and dispositions, being produced in the consumer culture? • Competition, rather than colloboration?
  17. 17. Beratement Culture • The culture of scrutiny speaks to imperfections. • Continuous improvement discourse is reminiscent of the cultural pressures on women in general to strive for perfection. • It is like diets and exercise regimes.
  18. 18. Summary • Gendered sites of opportunity, modes of possibility and constraint. • Women’s enhanced visibility as quality managers/ research actives appears as a gain. • Short-term opportunities for individuals could lead to long-term constraints for women collectively if quality continues to override equality concerns in the academy.