Women Studies Essays

Women Studies Essays-39
During the 1990s a few more job opportunities opened up.One consequence was that when those involved in women’s studies moved on, and their replacements often lacked the same expertise or commitment.

During the 1990s a few more job opportunities opened up.One consequence was that when those involved in women’s studies moved on, and their replacements often lacked the same expertise or commitment.

This decline has not meant the demise of feminist knowledge production within universities.

The rise of women’s studies also led to feminism having an impact on a variety of disciplines, with a gradual ‘mainstreaming’ of feminist research and theory in much of the humanities and social sciences.

At the same time cuts in the funding of students, the decline in student grants and their replacement by loans meant many less advantaged women could no longer contemplate a degree course while others opted for ‘safer’ subjects.

As student numbers declined in the 1990s and early 2000s, many degree programmes shut down.

Not all feminist academics played this game, but we were facing other problems that worked against maintaining our connections with activism.

As the generation who founded women’s studies became more senior we found ourselves over-burdened by work responsibilities, which was exacerbated by the increasing bureaucratisation of higher education and the audit culture. Early career feminist academics were also under pressure.At undergraduate level they often attracted mature women students without standard academic qualifications who came in via access courses Women’s Studies programmes relied heavily on the energy and feminist commitment of, primarily, junior academic staff often on temporary contracts.While these degrees appeared to flourish, under-resourcing and the lack of institutional support also made them rather precarious.At this time most feminist academics were also activists in the wider women’s liberation movement.We were a privileged group of women; not all of us were by any means middle class in origin but we had gained a university education at a time when only a small minority of young people did so – and this, perhaps, is partly why second wave feminism is seen as overwhelmingly middle class.When a group of us in a Polytechnic proposed a women’s studies degree we met little opposition.As far as the ‘authorities’ were concerned we could go ahead in seeking validation provided we could do so without any additional resources.Stevi Jackson Women’s studies as an academic enterprise had its roots in second wave feminism and originated as a challenge to male-defined and male-centred knowledge.Students studying sociology now take it for granted that gender is central to sociological analysis. The sociology I was taught as an undergraduate in the late 1960s and early 1970s was the sociology of men as if they represented the whole of society – and primarily white western men.It was the Thatcher era, with its cuts in central government funding of HE, leading to a lack of academic jobs and thus little opportunity for job mobility.Yet among those who had been recruited into academia before the job slump took hold, there was a critical mass of committed young feminists willing to put considerable effort into developing women’s studies.

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