Excellence and Gender Equality: Critical Perspectives on Gender and Knowledge in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This conference explores the intersection of gender equality and academic evaluation of excellence, with a specific focus on the Humanities and Social Science (HASS) disciplines. It will investigate the increasingly accepted claim that genuine research excellence requires an equity component. As initiatives such as the UK’s Athena Swan programme start to bring change via research management strategies and incentives, the conference will assess the values and presuppositions that are shaping such interventions.

While the connection between gender equality and excellence is becoming established in higher education, the specific issues faced by HASS disciplines have rarely been discussed. STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) disciplines have appeared as the priority for attention and lend themselves to a ‘business case’ for changing institutions. Are STEMM disciplines implicitly taken as providing the paradigm of knowledge in the research context, and how does this generate assumptions that shape approaches to gender equality?

Papers at the conference explore a wide range of questions of interest to all concerned with gender equality in universities. What kind of diversity initiatives are effective? Do new equality and diversity discourses cover over rather than address crucial issues of power and authority? How can the contribution of critical feminist scholarship within HASS disciplines be brought into relation with the new gender equality discourses? And do generic accounts of excellence and gender equality downplay the significance of specific and conflicted histories of gender relations in the formation of disciplinary knowledge and standards?