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Understanding and
Tackling Resistances
to Structural Change
for Gender Equality in
Higher Education
10th February 2022
Presenter and Authors
Lucy Ferguson,
Yellow Window
(presenter and co-author)
Lucy Fe
Lut Mergaert, Yellow
Window (co-author)
Questions for self-reflection throughout the
presentation
➔What kinds of resistances to structural change for
gender equality have you experienced?
➔How do you currently deal with resistances?
➔How could you deal with resistances differently?
➔What role do resistances play in the structural
change process?
Quotation for Discussion
“We should celebrate as a success cases where the
status quo has to start to work hard to reproduce
itself and has to invest resources and energy in
resisting gender change. The need for visible
resistance to positive change is a success. It is
evidence of the chipping away of patriarchy; it might
be chipping away really slowly, but it is changing.”
(Fiona Mackay, quoted in Aruna Rao, Joanne Sandler,
David Kelleher, Carol Miller, Gender at Work: Theory and
Practice for 21st Century Organizations, Routledge 2016)
Do you agree with this
quotation?
Please answer in the
chat
Presentation draws on
SUPERA Resistances
Toolkit
The SUPERA partners:
Background to Resistances Toolkit
● Collaborative efforts – SUPERA, GE Academy,
Gender-SMART and GEARING-Roles
● Three in-person and two online workshops
● SUPERA project webinar which followed up on
the resistances toolkits developed
Outcomes of participation in resistances
workshops
● Participants reframed their thinking by
acknowledging that resistances are a normal and
necessary part of change.
● Resistances something which can be managed
● Encouraged to be subversive and strategic
Content of Toolkit and Presentation
● PART 1 - Categorising and theorising resistances
● PART 2 - Common guidelines for dealing with
resistances
● PART 3 - Resistances Action Plan
PART 1
CATEGORISING
RESISTANCES -
WHY, HOW, WHO?
Why?
● Specifically about gender equality, or other issues
altogether?
● Limited resources – both human and financial
resources
● Conflicting interests and priorities for funding
● Growth of the discrimination/diversity agenda
Why?
● Lack of capability
● Gender blindness
● Gender fatigue
● Assumptions regarding what is behind
resistances may at times be arbitrary
Can you identify
any of these
reasons for
resistances in your
context?
How? Active or explicit resistances
● Hostility, sexist humour, devaluation and disparaging
women’s accomplishments or professional commitment,
interrupting, denial of access to resources, etc.
● “Essentialist” discourses about gender inequalities
● Depoliticising and marginalising gender inequality
arguments and data as a matter of contrasting opinions,
rather than “facts”.
How? Passive or implicit resistances
● Negative body language, foot dragging, inertia,
chilly climate, making the procedures more
difficult, giving less attention, uncomfortable social
atmosphere
● Giving less access to institutional resources,
discomfort, inappropriate treatment, providing
mere lip-service support but nothing else, etc.
Can you identify
any of these forms
of resistances in
your context?
Who?
● Individual resistances come from a single
person, more often from men, although not
exclusively.
● A group resistance emerges from a collection of
individuals
● Institutional resistances are more difficult to
address, as they tend to be a product of
institutional culture or an institution’s legal or
administrative procedures.
Who?
● The superficial or preliminary manifestation of
resistances may be seen differently as the
project develops.
● It should be noted that in some workshops,
participants found it more difficult to identify
institutional resistances compared to
individual
Can you identify any of
these forms of resistances in
your context?
Do you find this a useful
categorisation?
PART 2
Common guidelines
for dealing with
resistances
Caring for the “core team”
 Lack of recognition of “academic care work”.
 While core teams of change agents work hard to
implement GEPs, this is often not acknowledged
in any formal manner or reflected in workloads or
promotion opportunities.
Caring for the core team
 Demotivation, exhaustion and burnout
 The work is hard and the battles are fierce, as
well as expectations around presenting gender
equality in a “friendly, non-threatening manner”
 Sometimes, structural change is being promoted
by one person or small group
Four Ss (for us)
➔Success – celebrate small wins to help motivation
➔Sanity – use energies where they can have most
impact
➔Self-care – look after each other’s well-being
➔Sustainability – bear in mind this is a long-term
process
APR
Within the ‘For Us’ approach, participants developed
the Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse strategy.
Rehearsal involves practising arguments and
counter-arguments and learning to communicate
politically - for example, use of role plays has been
particularly useful.
Role Play Scenarios
Can you think of a specific example of a
scenario which you often face that could be
helped with the use of role play with your
team?
Please share an example in the chat
Tackling resistances
to implementation
Acting politically
 Develop tactics and strategies
 Networks and alliances
 Dealing with bureaucracy
 Improving arguments and communication
Do you have any
examples or
experiences to share?
Please do so in the
chat.
PART 3
Resistances Action
Plan
Stage 1 – Identify Resistances
Identify a resistance
Categorise the resistance
Acknowledge alternative reactions to this
resistance
Identify the techniques and strategies
required to deal with this resistance
Stage 2 – Prioritise
How easy/difficult is each example of
resistance to address?
How important is this example of resistance toto
the overall implementation of the gender
equality plan?
Prioritise which resistances are to be addressed
and in what order
Stage 3 – Follow up Session
How has the toolkit been applied?
Share initiatives and actions undertaken
to address the resistances prioritised
Identify persistent and emerging
resistances
Stage 4 – Revision of Action Plans
Revise Action Plans, taking into account the feedback
from peers
Share initiatives and actions undertaken to
address the resistances prioritised
Identify persistent and emerging resistances
Action Plans become living documents which respond
to the changing circumstances of institutions
Would you be
interested in
developing an Action
Plan for your
team/institution?
Thank you for your
attention!
Any questions?
Please read and share
the SUPERA
Resistances Toolkit
https://www.superaproj
ect.eu/resistances-to-
structural-change-in-
gender-equality/

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Understanding and tackling resistances to structural change for gender equality in higher education

  • 1.
  • 2. Understanding and Tackling Resistances to Structural Change for Gender Equality in Higher Education 10th February 2022
  • 3. Presenter and Authors Lucy Ferguson, Yellow Window (presenter and co-author) Lucy Fe Lut Mergaert, Yellow Window (co-author)
  • 4. Questions for self-reflection throughout the presentation ➔What kinds of resistances to structural change for gender equality have you experienced? ➔How do you currently deal with resistances? ➔How could you deal with resistances differently? ➔What role do resistances play in the structural change process?
  • 5. Quotation for Discussion “We should celebrate as a success cases where the status quo has to start to work hard to reproduce itself and has to invest resources and energy in resisting gender change. The need for visible resistance to positive change is a success. It is evidence of the chipping away of patriarchy; it might be chipping away really slowly, but it is changing.” (Fiona Mackay, quoted in Aruna Rao, Joanne Sandler, David Kelleher, Carol Miller, Gender at Work: Theory and Practice for 21st Century Organizations, Routledge 2016)
  • 6. Do you agree with this quotation? Please answer in the chat
  • 7. Presentation draws on SUPERA Resistances Toolkit
  • 9. Background to Resistances Toolkit ● Collaborative efforts – SUPERA, GE Academy, Gender-SMART and GEARING-Roles ● Three in-person and two online workshops ● SUPERA project webinar which followed up on the resistances toolkits developed
  • 10. Outcomes of participation in resistances workshops ● Participants reframed their thinking by acknowledging that resistances are a normal and necessary part of change. ● Resistances something which can be managed ● Encouraged to be subversive and strategic
  • 11. Content of Toolkit and Presentation ● PART 1 - Categorising and theorising resistances ● PART 2 - Common guidelines for dealing with resistances ● PART 3 - Resistances Action Plan
  • 13. Why? ● Specifically about gender equality, or other issues altogether? ● Limited resources – both human and financial resources ● Conflicting interests and priorities for funding ● Growth of the discrimination/diversity agenda
  • 14. Why? ● Lack of capability ● Gender blindness ● Gender fatigue ● Assumptions regarding what is behind resistances may at times be arbitrary
  • 15. Can you identify any of these reasons for resistances in your context?
  • 16. How? Active or explicit resistances ● Hostility, sexist humour, devaluation and disparaging women’s accomplishments or professional commitment, interrupting, denial of access to resources, etc. ● “Essentialist” discourses about gender inequalities ● Depoliticising and marginalising gender inequality arguments and data as a matter of contrasting opinions, rather than “facts”.
  • 17. How? Passive or implicit resistances ● Negative body language, foot dragging, inertia, chilly climate, making the procedures more difficult, giving less attention, uncomfortable social atmosphere ● Giving less access to institutional resources, discomfort, inappropriate treatment, providing mere lip-service support but nothing else, etc.
  • 18. Can you identify any of these forms of resistances in your context?
  • 19. Who? ● Individual resistances come from a single person, more often from men, although not exclusively. ● A group resistance emerges from a collection of individuals ● Institutional resistances are more difficult to address, as they tend to be a product of institutional culture or an institution’s legal or administrative procedures.
  • 20. Who? ● The superficial or preliminary manifestation of resistances may be seen differently as the project develops. ● It should be noted that in some workshops, participants found it more difficult to identify institutional resistances compared to individual
  • 21. Can you identify any of these forms of resistances in your context? Do you find this a useful categorisation?
  • 22. PART 2 Common guidelines for dealing with resistances
  • 23. Caring for the “core team”  Lack of recognition of “academic care work”.  While core teams of change agents work hard to implement GEPs, this is often not acknowledged in any formal manner or reflected in workloads or promotion opportunities.
  • 24. Caring for the core team  Demotivation, exhaustion and burnout  The work is hard and the battles are fierce, as well as expectations around presenting gender equality in a “friendly, non-threatening manner”  Sometimes, structural change is being promoted by one person or small group
  • 25. Four Ss (for us) ➔Success – celebrate small wins to help motivation ➔Sanity – use energies where they can have most impact ➔Self-care – look after each other’s well-being ➔Sustainability – bear in mind this is a long-term process
  • 26. APR Within the ‘For Us’ approach, participants developed the Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse strategy. Rehearsal involves practising arguments and counter-arguments and learning to communicate politically - for example, use of role plays has been particularly useful.
  • 27. Role Play Scenarios Can you think of a specific example of a scenario which you often face that could be helped with the use of role play with your team? Please share an example in the chat
  • 29. Acting politically  Develop tactics and strategies  Networks and alliances  Dealing with bureaucracy  Improving arguments and communication
  • 30. Do you have any examples or experiences to share? Please do so in the chat.
  • 32. Stage 1 – Identify Resistances Identify a resistance Categorise the resistance Acknowledge alternative reactions to this resistance Identify the techniques and strategies required to deal with this resistance
  • 33. Stage 2 – Prioritise How easy/difficult is each example of resistance to address? How important is this example of resistance toto the overall implementation of the gender equality plan? Prioritise which resistances are to be addressed and in what order
  • 34. Stage 3 – Follow up Session How has the toolkit been applied? Share initiatives and actions undertaken to address the resistances prioritised Identify persistent and emerging resistances
  • 35. Stage 4 – Revision of Action Plans Revise Action Plans, taking into account the feedback from peers Share initiatives and actions undertaken to address the resistances prioritised Identify persistent and emerging resistances Action Plans become living documents which respond to the changing circumstances of institutions
  • 36. Would you be interested in developing an Action Plan for your team/institution?
  • 37. Thank you for your attention! Any questions?
  • 38. Please read and share the SUPERA Resistances Toolkit https://www.superaproj ect.eu/resistances-to- structural-change-in- gender-equality/