How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences: Innovation and Impact [1st ed.] 9783030432355, 9783030432362

This collection turns a spotlight on gender innovation in the social sciences. Eighteen short and accessibly written cas

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How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences: Innovation and Impact [1st ed.]
 9783030432355, 9783030432362

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xvi
Front Matter ....Pages 1-1
Introduction: The Gender Lens and Innovation in the Social Sciences (Fiona Jenkins, Marian Sawer, Karen Downing)....Pages 3-15
Front Matter ....Pages 17-17
The Ethics of Care: Valuing or Essentialising Women’s Work? (Fiona Jenkins)....Pages 19-26
Epistemic Injustice and Questions of Credibility (Katrina Hutchison)....Pages 27-35
Front Matter ....Pages 37-37
Political Representation: The Gendered Effects of Voting Systems (Marian Sawer, Manon Tremblay)....Pages 39-46
Parliaments as Gendered Workplaces (Sonia Palmieri)....Pages 47-56
Violence Against Women in Politics (Mona Lena Krook)....Pages 57-64
Feminist Interventions in Security Studies (Katrina Lee-Koo)....Pages 65-73
Front Matter ....Pages 75-75
Reconceiving the Nation (Kate Laing)....Pages 77-86
Gendered Perspectives on War and Nationhood: The Prism of Anzac (Carolyn Holbrook)....Pages 87-94
Women in Economic History (Catherine Bishop)....Pages 95-102
Front Matter ....Pages 103-103
New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding as an Economic Indicator (Julie P. Smith, Nancy Folbre)....Pages 105-116
Gender Budgeting (Marian Sawer, Miranda Stewart)....Pages 117-126
Feminist Economics and Retirement Income and Savings Policy (Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp)....Pages 127-136
The Individual Deprivation Measure: A Gender-Sensitive Approach to Multidimensional Poverty Measurement (Sharon Bessell)....Pages 137-145
Front Matter ....Pages 147-147
Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment (Anne Junor)....Pages 149-158
Smoking as a Gendered Activity (Helen Keane)....Pages 159-167
Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk in Southern Africa: The Role of Men’s Organisations (Kylah Forbes-Biggs)....Pages 169-176
Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproduction (Celia Roberts)....Pages 177-184
Front Matter ....Pages 185-185
Moving Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries to Respond to Climate Change (Margaret Jolly)....Pages 187-197

Citation preview

How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences Innovation and Impact Edited by Marian Sawer Fiona Jenkins Karen Downing

How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences

Marian Sawer · Fiona Jenkins · Karen Downing Editors

How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences Innovation and Impact

Editors Marian Sawer The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia

Fiona Jenkins The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia

Karen Downing The Australian National University Canberra, ACT, Australia

ISBN 978-3-030-43235-5 ISBN 978-3-030-43236-2


© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Pivot imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


Some of these case studies were initially written as papers for the ‘Gendered Innovations in Social Sciences’ conference held in 2016 at the Australian National University. Other case studies were subsequently commissioned for a related website and eventually for this book. This volume forms one of the results of a research project led by Fiona Jenkins, titled ‘Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences (GESS)’, hosted at the Australian National University and funded by the Australian Research Council (DP150104449). Support from the ARC is gratefully acknowledged as well as financial and in kind support from the ANU Gender Institute, whose website hosts the project http://genderinstitute.



Part I 1

Introduction: The Gender Lens and Innovation in the Social Sciences Fiona Jenkins, Marian Sawer, and Karen Downing

Part II 2


Introduction 3


The Ethics of Care: Valuing or Essentialising Women’s Work? Fiona Jenkins Epistemic Injustice and Questions of Credibility Katrina Hutchison

19 27




Part III 4

Political Science

Political Representation: The Gendered Effects of Voting Systems Marian Sawer and Manon Tremblay



Parliaments as Gendered Workplaces Sonia Palmieri



Violence Against Women in Politics Mona Lena Krook



Feminist Interventions in Security Studies Katrina Lee-Koo


Part IV



Reconceiving the Nation Kate Laing


Gendered Perspectives on War and Nationhood: The Prism of Anzac Carolyn Holbrook

10 Women in Economic History Catherine Bishop Part V 11



87 95


New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding as an Economic Indicator Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre Gender Budgeting Marian Sawer and Miranda Stewart

105 117



Feminist Economics and Retirement Income and Savings Policy Siobhan Austen and Rhonda Sharp

14 The Individual Deprivation Measure: A Gender-Sensitive Approach to Multidimensional Poverty Measurement Sharon Bessell Part VI 15




Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment Anne Junor


Smoking as a Gendered Activity Helen Keane


Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk in Southern Africa: The Role of Men’s Organisations Kylah Forbes-Biggs

18 Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproduction Celia Roberts Part VII


149 159

169 177

Transdisciplinary Innovation

19 Moving Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries to Respond to Climate Change Margaret Jolly


Notes on Contributors

Siobhan Austen is a Professor of Economics and Director of Women in Social and Economic Research (WiSER) at Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Sharon Bessell is a Professor of Public Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy, and the director of the Poverty and Inequality Research Centre and the Children’s Policy Centre, The Australian National University. Catherine Bishop is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Workforce Futures at the Macquarie Business School, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Karen Downing is a Visitor in the School of History at The Australian National University, and a Researcher on the Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project. Nancy Folbre is a Professor Emerita of Economics and Director of the Program on Gender and Care Work at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Senior Fellow of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College in the United States. xi


Notes on Contributors

Kylah Forbes-Biggs is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Gender Justice, Health and Human Development Unit at the Durban University of Technology, South Africa. Carolyn Holbrook is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the Contemporary Histories Research Group at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. Katrina Hutchison is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Macquarie University, Australia, and holds an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award fellowship focused on gender bias in surgical careers. Fiona Jenkins is an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University and Convenor of the ANU Gender Institute. Margaret Jolly, AM, FASSA past Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow is a Professor, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University. Anne Junor is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Industrial Relations Research Centre, UNSW Business School, Sydney, and The University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia. Helen Keane is a Professor of Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University. Mona Lena Krook is a Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women and Politics Ph.D. Program at Rutgers University, USA. Kate Laing is a Researcher at the University of Technology Sydney. She received her Ph.D. in History from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, in 2017. Katrina Lee-Koo is an Associate Professor of International Relations and Deputy Director at the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Notes on Contributors


Sonia Palmieri is a Gender Policy Fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University and an Adjunct Associate Professor, 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra, Australia. Celia Roberts is a Professor in the School of Sociology and a member of the Gender Institute at The Australian National University. Marian Sawer, AO, FASSA is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at The Australian National University and ANU Public Policy Fellow. Rhonda Sharp, AM is an Emeritus Professor, and formerly Professor of Economics at the Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia. Julie P. Smith is an Honorary Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow at the Research School of Population Health, and a Fellow at the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. Miranda Stewart is a Professor at the University of Melbourne Law School and a Fellow at the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. Manon Tremblay is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

List of Figures

Fig. 5.1

Fig. 7.1 Fig. 8.1

Fig. 9.1

Fig. 10.1

The late Hon. Dr. Jiko Luveni, Parliament Speaker, opening Fiji’s first ‘Women’s Parliament Fiji’ in 2016 (Source Parliament of the Republic of Fiji, http://, accessed 13 November 2019. Reprinted with permission) Chinese women peacekeepers in Mali (Source MINUSMA Photo/Marco Dormino) Mother and child consult the doctor at the new baby clinic, New Farm, 1918 (Source John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, accession no. D11-3-91) Lae, New Guinea, 1945. AWAS personnel disembarking from the MV Duntroon, about to leave a landing barge at Milford Haven. They are part of a group of 342 AWAS from Australia en route to the AWAS barracks at Butibum Road (Source Australian War Memorial, accession no 091461) Mrs. McDowall’s Millinery Emporium (also dress and mantle making), Hill End (Source Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, reference 62692)

55 73






Fig. 11.1

Fig. 11.2

Fig. 12.1 Fig. 13.1

Fig. 15.1

List of Figures

Value of unpaid work as a percentage of GDP (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics, Spotlight on the National Accounts: Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy (May 2014, 12), Canberra: ABS (accessed 3 October 2017). Note Data was derived from incorporating estimates of Household Production of Non Market Services, OECD Statistical Working Papers, October 2011, and ABS estimates based on Time Use Survey, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, Labour Force Survey, Australian System of National Accounts) Stone frieze on exterior balcony of the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France, depicting nursing mother (Source Photo by Catherine Constable, 2017) Gender gaps at a glance (Source Data collected by Marian Baird and Andreea Constantin, 2018–2019) Ratio of male to female average superannuation account balances: 2013–2014 (Source Authors’ calculations from Australian Tax Office, Individuals’ Sample File 2013–14, accessed 29 October 2019 at https://data. Skills used in service jobs have been cast as ‘natural’ feminine attributes, or as ‘everyday accomplishments’ (Source Adobe Stock Photo)


115 121



Part I Introduction

1 Introduction: The Gender Lens and Innovation in the Social Sciences Fiona Jenkins, Marian Sawer, and Karen Downing

Abstract This collection turns a spotlight on the transformations wrought by gender innovation in the social sciences. Eighteen short and accessibly written case studies show how feminist and gender perspectives bring new concepts, theories and policy solutions. Scholars in five disciplines—economics, history, philosophy, political science and sociology—demonstrate how paying attention to gender can sharpen the focus of the social sciences, improve the public policy they inform and change the way we look at things. Gender innovation provokes rethinking at both the core and the margins of established disciplines, sometimes developing new fields of research that chart new territory. Fiona Jenkins (B) · Marian Sawer · Karen Downing The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] Marian Sawer e-mail: [email protected] Karen Downing e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



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These case studies celebrate the contribution of feminist and gender scholars and the impact of their work within and beyond the social sciences. Keywords Social sciences · Gender lens · Public policy · Case studies · Interdisciplinarity How is our understanding of social, economic and political questions transformed when we apply a gender lens? In this book we turn a spotlight not so much on the flaws of gender-blind social science as on the positive contribution being made by gender innovation. By offering a series of case studies that exemplify major new insights, we show how new approaches to old questions arise from paying attention to gendered differences in experience, opportunity and outlook; or how entirely new questions and areas of study can arise from critically examining the presuppositions of the social sciences. The case studies presented here all reveal how the application of a gender lens has sharpened the focus of the social sciences, offering gains in understanding and new approaches to problems. They reveal, for instance, the ways in which gender research can improve our response to climate change or disaster management, and enable recognition of the importance of care-giving to the economy. A gender lens also changes our approach to calculating GDP, measuring poverty, evaluating electoral systems or telling the stories of our nation-states. This gender innovation has had more impact in some areas of social science than others. Each of the case studies begins with the gaps in knowledge that existed in a particular subject area before gender perspectives provided new insights. They are loosely grouped into the disciplines of philosophy, political science, history, economics and sociology, to provide the context for a wider discussion of how, in each of these fields, questions of gender arise in distinctive ways. We also highlight the wide variation in the impact of gender innovation on mainstream areas of these disciplines. Our project grew from an interest in assessing and interpreting the evident differences between disciplinary fields in the extent to which feminist and gender perspectives have transformed their thinking. Our research suggests that there are strong

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correlations between the extent of women’s progress and the relative degree of transformation of these disciplines. Disciplines that perform poorly at achieving gender parity—for instance, economics, philosophy and political science—also miss out on the valuable insights of gender innovation. In this introduction we begin by acknowledging some of the existing work on the practice of feminist research across the social sciences, before introducing our case studies and what they tell us about gender innovation in different disciplines.

Feminist Research Practice There are a number of excellent surveys of feminist research practice that show how social science can be improved by taking gender into account. These include the classic Feminist Methods in Social Research published by Shulamit Reinharz (1992) and the more recent Handbook of Feminist Research edited by Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber (2012). Both drew attention to the wide varieties of method being used by feminist researchers across the social sciences, arguing this diversity was a strength not a weakness. While feminist researchers have tended to favour qualitative and mixed-methods approaches rather than purely quantitative ones, they have drawn on the full range of methods found in the social sciences with the possible exception of rational choice. Rational choice theory provides a framework for modelling social and economic behaviour, for example, through the mathematical framework provided by game theory, and has spread beyond economics into political science and elsewhere. It presents difficulties for feminist researchers in being based on methodological individualism (the assumption of the autonomous rationally choosing individual) rather than looking at the broader social structuring of choice by factors including gender and race relations. Despite the variety of method, a common feature of feminist research practice is the ‘feminist research ethic’—emphasising the need for reflexivity about power relations and the values the researcher brings to their research (Ackerly and True 2019 [2010]). In the


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past, explicit acknowledgement of values sometimes led to judgements that feminist research lacked legitimacy, that it was not ‘objective’. In response, feminist researchers identified the unacknowledged values often causing distortions in social science research. Reflexivity may entail disclosure of embodiment and standpoint, including lived experience of discrimination and marginalisation but also of relatively advantaged locations; such disclosure adds to rather than detracting from the value of research by acknowledging the situation in which it is conducted. Feminist research, moreover, avows its ethical and political commitments in undertaking enquiry that will increase understanding of the nature and source of gender inequalities in order to change them. This normative component and emphasis on reflexivity are unifying characteristics of feminist research, which otherwise now varies widely in its methods and approach. One change that has taken place in feminist research practice over time has been an increased focus on ‘intersectionality’. This meant expanding the analytic construct of gender to encompass the intersection of gender with identities and oppressions relating to race, class, sexuality, disability, ethnicity or other attributes. The concept of intersectionality was introduced by Kimberlé Crenshaw to bring into focus the distinctive experience of African American women and the intersecting identities and privileges that complicate gendered power relations (Crenshaw 1989). The concept was quickly taken up by gender experts, both scholars and practitioners, who began to refer to gender equality policies as ‘gender+’ policies, to emphasise that other axes of inequality always intersect with gender. Queer theory emerged in the 1990s, challenging in various ways assumptions about the ‘normal’ alignment of gender, sex and sexuality as well as binary thinking about natural sex difference. Key theorists such as Judith Butler argued that the social regulation of gender through ‘heteronormative’ practices fails to take account of the possibilities for organising gender experience and relations differently (Butler 2006 [1990]). Queer theory has stressed not just the social construction but also the materiality of gender as embodied and ‘performative’, and therefore has criticised the familiar assumption that gender is socially constructed whereas ‘sex’ is simply a given bodily identity (male or

1 Introduction: The Gender Lens and Innovation …


female). Sex, on this influential account, is not simply a biological fact, but becomes embodied in ways that are highly variable (see discussions by Roberts and Jolly in this volume). Another change arising from shifting the focus towards a broader and more complex understanding of gender and power has been the increased attention paid to the construction of masculinities, the nature of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and its variation over time and place. Here insights about heteronormative and patriarchal social orders are brought together with insights about the way power reproduces itself. Like other feminist research, this has been closely tied to policy applications such as violence prevention and the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality (Connell 1995; Breines et al. 2000). Queer theory, attention to masculinities and gender+ have all advanced the understanding of gender and its relationship with power. A dominant but still too often unacknowledged focus on some men’s experience and life worlds continues to shape both the social sciences and public policy. Gender innovation takes place not just by exposing this bias but by offering fresh and productive perspectives and new analytic tools.

The Gender Innovation Case Studies Our case studies of gender innovation come from the five disciplines, that are the subject of the recent Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences project—namely philosophy, political science, economics, history and sociology. The GESS project has been researching the relationship between the status of women in these social science disciplines and the integration of gender innovation and feminist research. It has employed a complex framework, comparing the recognition of women and of feminist scholarship across the five disciplines and four countries—Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The project has amassed a wide range of data, including academic workforce statistics, recognition indices and bibliometrics.1 Its publications (including special journal issues and books) have included comparative work on the differences between disciplines in


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mainstreaming gendered knowledge, viewed against the differences in women’s presence and leadership across disciplines and across countries. One aim of the project has been to identify the kind of gender innovation taking place in the social sciences and the extent of its impact on how disciplinary knowledge is produced. An international conference hosted by the GESS project in 2016 identified significant innovations and the extent of their integration into disciplinary mainstreams. It found, for example, that in the disciplines of economics and political science, the public policy impact of feminist scholarship tended to be greater than impact within the discipline itself. The case studies presented in this book have their origins in the gender innovation strand of the GESS project and illustrate how gendered approaches have resulted in new knowledge, both theoretical and applied. Despite the very different disciplinary contexts, there are common themes, such as the need to expand existing concepts so that they more satisfactorily explain complex problems.

Philosophy Philosophy has been and remains one of the most male dominated of the academic disciplines (Hutchison and Jenkins 2013). Despite the fact that feminist philosophy has been a highly productive and influential sub-field, its impact to date has been felt beyond rather than within the discipline. The contribution of feminist researchers highlighted by our two case studies in philosophy address ethics and epistemology, and both have wide implications for social science research, social policy and social relations but have enjoyed only limited uptake within the central academic journals of the discipline (Pearse et al. 2018). The approach described as an ‘ethics of care’ was first developed in the 1980s as part of a wave of feminist revaluations of moral philosophy. By demonstrating how the history of philosophical thinking on ethics systematically downgraded virtues associated with women, feminist approaches both invited a reappraisal of the foundations of the discipline and offered new recognition of essential dimensions of human life. Gaining a better understanding of the value of care work is a major

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theme in other case studies in this volume, proving to be a missing piece in many accounts of the economy. Recognising how unpaid care and paid work interact also leads to better historical understanding of women’s roles and identities. This case study discusses the impact of the ethics of care on a wide range of areas including security studies and environmentalism. Likewise, the concept of ‘epistemic injustice’ offers a rich and influential account of how knowledge is beholden to social relations. Philosophers have traditionally thought of knowledge in highly individualised and abstract terms. This feminist approach shows how knowing relies upon relations of testimony and trust which are downplayed in conventional accounts of knowledge. As such, it can be chronically distorted by gender, race and class relations. All of these lead to unreasonably high credibility attaching to some speakers and low credibility to others. It is a form of injustice that has had significant effects on policy, on science and on medicine, as the case study shows. Epistemic injustices, we would argue, have detrimentally shaped all the university disciplines and further afield, our social, legal and political institutions.

Political Science and International Relations The political science and international relations (IR) case studies of gender innovation throw new light on the operation of political institutions and political recruitment. Conceptual tools that take gender into account have been refined from existing approaches in the discipline, including discourse analysis, with its emphasis on the politics of framing, and new institutionalism with its emphasis on informal rules, as well as more quantitative approaches (Sawer 2020; Sawer and Baker 2019). New knowledge concerning electoral systems, candidate quotas, parliamentary practices and gendered electoral violence has been generated—often with immediate policy impact. While political science once assumed that politics was a male domain, it now helps promote gender equality and gender+ equality projects. Our case studies illustrate the different ways in which a gender lens has contributed to the discipline.


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However, while gender innovation in political science has brought new insights and significant policy impacts, much of this work has concerned the institutions and actors that are the traditional focus of the discipline. In contrast, in IR, gender innovation has extended the traditional boundaries of the discipline beyond the state actors and geopolitical dynamics once seen as its proper domain. As illustrated by our case study on security studies, gender research in IR has encompassed a broad range of non-state actors and introduced new perspectives from below. Regardless of these differences, feminist political science and feminist IR scholars have shared a positive orientation towards creating ‘useful’ knowledge in partnership with civil society actors and policy practitioners at both national and transnational levels. They have participated in, as well as studied, the dissemination of gender equality norms.

History History as an academic discipline developed alongside nation-states during the nineteenth century with the invariable result of ‘masculinist’ narratives of nations emerging from the blood of soldiers and the wisdom of founding fathers. However, in comparison with the other disciplines in this volume (apart from sociology), feminist work in history has made great strides towards fundamentally reshaping the discipline. This change correlates with a better level of women’s representation as scholars in the academy, especially in Australia, the subject of our history case studies (Crotty and Sendziuk 2018).2 This diversity and impact is partly explained by feminist history’s openness to theory. Wherever it is practised, it is characterised by interdisciplinarity and a strong commitment to questions of method and philosophy. This can be seen, for example, in the historical studies of masculinities worldwide, which have been heavily influenced by the work of Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell. Australia’s traditional national narratives were particularly masculinist, which, perhaps, goaded feminist historians to produce sharper critiques. The three history case studies in this collection bring to the fore how

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feminist approaches to history in Australia challenged notions of the public sphere in general, and of the nation-state in particular, as both the sole domain of men and the only place in which to find the drivers of historical change. It is worth noting that feminist historians in Australia have not confined themselves to ‘women’s history’. They have written on the history of race, popular culture, the anti-Vietnam war movement; on soldier settlement, settler colonialism and colonial concepts of honour and virtue; on Aboriginal pastoral workers; on the impact of the US civil rights movement on Australian activism; on migration and multiculturalism; on trauma and the impact of war on women and children as well as on men. In their quest to reveal women in history, feminist historians have necessarily grappled with gender’s intersections with race and class and other axes of identity and oppression. In so doing, they questioned the traditional subjects of history and the authority of traditionally accepted sources—in short, they interrogated the foundations of the discipline itself. They have been at the forefront of consequent new fields of history such as transnational history, environmental history and history of emotions.

Economics The dominant neo-classical economic paradigm, based on the rational choice model discussed earlier, has provided little scope for considering the social structuring of choice or the non-market elements of the economy. This has meant that gender innovation in economics has largely taken place outside the mainstream organisation of the discipline, and has drawn more heavily on other disciplines. Partnership with policy practitioners has been another characteristic of the work of feminist economists. Our economics case studies illustrate the boundary crossing and interdisciplinary nature of feminist economics. The landmark critique of the measurement of economic activity, which inspired much feminist economics, was Marilyn Waring’s Counting for Nothing. Waring was a young politician with a political science degree, who became enraged when chairing a parliamentary public accounts committee to find that


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gross domestic product (GDP) took no account of unpaid household and caring work or environmental values. This created the kind of distortion of public policy shown in our case study where the sale of milk formula for babies contributes to GDP but breastfeeding does not, despite its public health benefits. Such distortions affect all areas of public policy and leads to decisions such as the privileging of occupation-based superannuation over the more neutral old-age pension. It has taken the innovation of gender budgeting to raise awareness that because of the differing participation of men and women in unpaid work and their differing location in paid work, budgetary decisions can never be assumed to be gender neutral in their impact. Austerity budgets, for example, will always have disproportionate impact on women because women are more dependent on the public sector for employment, services and income support. Our case study of individual deprivation research shows how poverty measures that rely on household income assume the pooling of household resources and neglect factors such as time burdens, lack of support networks and lack of control over earnings. Over the past 30 years, gender innovation in the study of financial arrangements within families has shaken the assumptions about the pooling of resources that used to underpin social policy.

Sociology Sociology, like history, is a discipline that has been relatively receptive to feminist approaches and has also advanced significantly through the insights developed through queer, intersectional and gender+ perspectives. Of all the disciplines we include here, it has the highest rates of integration of gender research into its mainstream work and also the highest rates of women’s participation at over 50%. Our case studies provide a glimpse of the very wide range of approaches and methodologies that exist within the discipline. The concept of ‘emotional labour’ is a case in point. Women’s delivery of ‘emotional labour’—care, concern, a smile—appears within the labour market as something that is at once non-commodifiable and an expected

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service. The consequent under-recognition of skills used in service work has been a major driver of gender pay gaps. The concept of emotional labour is now being incorporated into job evaluation systems and has been important in pay equity cases. The systematic undervaluing of skills regarded as the natural attribute of women is closely linked to the undervaluing of relations of care we have seen in our other case studies. How women respond to stresses inherent to their lives under such conditions is an equally under-recognised aspect of their health needs. The case study on smoking as a gendered activity draws attention to the role this activity plays in asserting a certain picture of the self. Smoking forms part of a culture of consumption organised by desires and ambitions that marketeers have perhaps been more adept at understanding than many social scientists. In this case study, application of a gender lens requires us to think in complex and critical ways about how we understand empowerment, risk and well-being. Similarly, in the context of assessing and mitigating disaster risk, our case study demonstrates the importance of paying attention to masculinities. Running against the grain of approaches that focus on the disproportionate impact of disasters on women and the need to empower women in decision-making, this study emphasises the importance of men’s organisations in raising awareness of how traditional masculinities can hinder disaster risk management. Like these, the final case study in sociology invites us to reflect on difficult questions of value. It examines the role that is being played by the toxic chemicals that are now common in our environment, affecting ‘natural processes’ including those associated with reproduction, sexdetermination and sexual behaviour. In a world in which these aspects of biology have all become subject to extensive technical interventions, can we fairly see the changes introduced by toxic chemicals as self-evidently bad or disruptive of a natural state of organic life? While charting the very significant role played by female scientists and journalists in documenting and protesting such assaults on the environment and our bodies, this case study also uses a gender lens to question assumptions about what is natural and normative for us as sexed and embodied beings.


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Extending the Scope of the Gender Lens Our final case study in the volume explores how the relatively new and immensely challenging topic of climate change has become a site for transdisciplinary investigation. Here, gender innovation brings together the natural sciences, social sciences, the arts and humanities, to catalyse activism and political change in response to rapid environmental destruction. Although this volume primarily looks at gender innovation in relation to disciplinary paradigms, it also shows how often interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives have been needed to shed light on complex inequalities, such as those that shape the experience and realities of climate change. New fields of research have been developed that cannot be returned to any disciplinary home, but represent new territory. Our hope for this volume is that it will speak to new readers of gender research, introducing them to gender innovation that is making a real difference in the social sciences and beyond. Feminist and gender perspectives are not simply about ‘diversity’ as a value, but also represent critical standpoints essential to the progression of the social sciences. Feminist methodologies recognise that not only are the social fields we study structured by gender and other inequalities, but so too is the position of the researcher. By attaching importance to reflexivity, awareness of power relations between researcher and research subjects and orientation towards achieving social change, standpoint becomes an integral aspect of the knowledge social scientists pursue. As we see in the authorship and editorship of this volume, most research using a gender lens continues to be done by women. We hope that wider recognition of its importance will bring the gender lens into much wider use, enabling the social sciences to better address the urgent problems of today’s complex world.

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Notes 1. 2.

Key Readings Ackerly, Brooke and Jacqui True. 2019 (2010). Doing Feminist Research in Political and Social Science (2nd edn). London: Palgrave. Breines, Ingeborg, R. W. Connell and Ingrid Eide. 2000. Male Roles, Masculinities and Violence: A Culture of Peace Perspective. Paris: UNESCO. Butler, Judith. 2006 (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Connell, R. W. 1995. Masculinities. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1989. ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’. University of Chicago Legal Forum 140: 139–67. Crotty, Martin, and Paul Sendziuk. 2018. The State of the Discipline: University History in Australia and New Zealand: Report to the Australian Historical Association Executive, March. Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy, ed. 2012. Handbook of Feminist Research: Theory and Praxis (2nd edn). London: Sage. Hutchison, Katrina and Fiona Jenkins. 2013. Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pearse, Rebecca, James N. Hitchcock and Helen Keane. 2018. ‘Gender, Inter/Disciplinarity and Marginality in the Social Sciences and Humanities: A Comparison Across Six Disciplines. Women’s Studies International Forum 72(January–February): 109–126. Reinharz, Shulamit. 1992. Feminist Methods in Social Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sawer, Marian. 2020. ‘Feminist Political Science’. In The Sage Handbook of Political Science, Vol. 1, edited by Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Bertrand Badie and Leonardo Morlino, 96–113. London: Sage. Sawer, Marian and Kerryn Baker, eds. 2019. Gender Innovation in Political Science: New Norms, New Knowledge. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Part II Philosophy

2 The Ethics of Care: Valuing or Essentialising Women’s Work? Fiona Jenkins

Abstract A major theme of ethics, introduced by feminist philosophers in the 1980s, concerns the role of care in human life. While the importance of care has historically been neglected by philosophy, some argue that it should be placed at the centre of our ethical systems and understood as a locus of distinctive virtues that have been wrongly devalued as feminine. Whether caring reflects a characteristically feminine set of virtues has been a source of controversy, with some arguing that women have different ethical approaches from men, while others argue this has no basis in an essential sexual or gender difference. Despite these important questions, it is valuable to explore what an ethics looks like that places central importance on relations of care. Keywords Ethics of care · Care work · Feminist ethics

Fiona Jenkins (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Fiona Jenkins

The Issue: Care as a Feminist Concern In the great books of the moral tradition of Western philosophy, relations of care do not occupy much of a place. The pursuit of happiness— whether in Aristotle’s elevated sense of the happiness [eudaimonia] of the good life, or in the more modern utilitarian sense of the maximisation of pleasure and the minimisation of pain—owes much to a world in which caring offers love, tends to the vulnerabilities of the body, or provides, on a daily basis, food, clean clothing, shelter. Yet these elements of care in life, if noted at all, have not been attributed importance by philosophers, nor seen as aspects of the virtues or moral value of the carers who give them. Such labours, rather, form an invisible backdrop to properly ethical life. When the ‘great’ moral philosophers (all male) have spoken of duties, of virtues, of rights and of justice, they seem to have had in mind the peculiar aptness of the masculine subject to fulfil their demands, masculinity being characterised by autonomy, invulnerability and self-reliance. Almost without exception, they neglect the virtues associated with women, often by treating caring roles as lives consigned to meaningless and menial activity. Despite being essential to daily life, the activities arising from responding to human need and vulnerabilities are treated as signs of limited capacities. We find then, from Aristotle to Kant and beyond, a persistent trivialisation of women through their association with children or with the private world of merely family concerns, by contrast with the public world for which men’s natures are supposed to fit them. In these not so subtle ways, women’s subordination has been naturalised, and justified by reference to a staggering presumption that the provision of care marks its giver as inferior. These philosophical themes are not mere historical curiosities. Although women’s representation in fields traditionally dominated by men has been growing, care work remains an area that poses many unresolved issues. In the provision of care for children, the disabled, the sick and the elderly, women perform the majority of the labour, paid and unpaid. The rise of neo-liberalism since the 1980s has seen both a new recognition of women’s paid labour as being of essential

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importance to the economy and the dismantling and privatisation of public services, with disproportionate effects on women’s lives as carers. While some efforts have been made to quantify the value of care in monetary terms, or to include unpaid labour in economic measures such as GDP, other forms of recognition afforded to the human value of care seem essential if we are to register its massive significance in all our lives, both as givers and receivers of its generosity. Too often such work only becomes visible when it is lacking, and scandal erupts; for instance, over the care of the elderly in nursing homes, whose staff may neglect or even abuse residents, while being placed under intense pressure to maximise the profitability of such businesses. Relations of care, it seems, are neither adequately recognised in the paradigms of monetised economic life and the jargon of market value, nor in our inherited traditions of contemplating the values and virtues that make for a truly human life. Where does this leave us? On the one hand, we may wish to recognise the value of women’s work as carers, work that many women profoundly associate with their identities; yet on the other hand, we may also wish to resist the gendered distribution of labour which has undervalued such work, exempted men from its tasks and placed women in positions of systemic social and political subordination as a consequence. Feminist debate around such questions has been intense. If we valorise care, what social revolutions might ensue? How might our thinking change on a vast range of issues from security, to environmental sustainability, citizenship or human well-being, if we adequately recognised the significance of care? On the other hand, does this not risk associating women with the sphere of caring work in which they have indeed been consigned to narrower lives than those available to men? To overcome the subordination of caring activity, must we not end its naturalised historical association with women?

Feminist Interventions As noted, women have historically been associated with caring for others, whether children, the sick or the elderly. In the 1980s an attempt was made to valorise women’s perspective on caring relationships, in


Fiona Jenkins

the context of an emerging critique of the over-valorisation of men’s perspectives on ethical questions. In particular, Carol Gilligan offered influential criticism of the hierarchy of moral perspectives, described as ‘developmental stages’ by American educational psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. Kohlberg placed capacity for moral judgement based on universal principles at the top of a scale of moral development and found that boys were more likely than girls to ‘attain’ such powers of reasoning. Gilligan questioned whether the more empathetic and contextualised approach the girls brought to moral reasoning, their emphasis on relationships and unwillingness to adopt a more abstract approach to rights and justice, meant an inferior place in the scale of moral development. She suggested it was the mark of a different moral understanding rather than a moral deficiency, and titled her landmark 1982 book In a Different Voice. On the basis of her own research interviews with women, she introduced an influential distinction between the ethic of care, which she found to be predominantly female, and an ethic of justice, which she found to be predominantly male. Gilligan’s questions inspired feminist philosophers to develop accounts of the ethical sphere which argued for the centrality of caring work and of fundamental human relations such as mothering, to sustaining social and moral capacities. The almost total neglect of such aspects of life in mainstream ethics made this body of work a major innovation. In 1986, for instance, moral philosopher Nel Noddings provided a theory of care that challenged a wide range of moral theories by identifying relationships as basic to human identity and care as a universal human attribute. Caring is characterised as a particularised relation, in the primary instance between two humans, that perceives and attends to the needs of another, and acts in response. It is clear that mothering is a paradigmatic instance of care, and reveals caring’s often asymmetric nature, which distinguishes it fundamentally from the mutually interested contractual models of reciprocity that many modern traditions of ethics invoke. Caring explicitly avoids the abstract, impartial, impersonal reasoning of the deontologist, the utilitarian or the justice theorist. It involves a consideration of the perspective and interests of the other, and thus rational reflection, not simply reaction to perceived need; however, emotional connection and feeling for the

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other is intrinsic to it in a way that few traditional ethical theories even begin to conceptualise. As Joan Tronto argues, care ethics implies that practices, not just principles, are constitutive of morality, and a ‘thick’ interpersonal and contextual form of attentive concern shapes care, that is poorly captured in ‘thin’ abstract reasoning. This ‘ethics of care’ approach extends beyond one-to-one relations and has led to calls for a more compassionate basis to ethics and politics, as for instance in Virginia Held’s work. Others such as Diemut Bubeck have suggested that the activity of care, rather than military service, should be a defining characteristic of citizenship. Some argue the idea of care as ethical may be capable of guiding not only private conduct, but human interaction in general. Yet although this suggests that caring might become the basis of a new universal moral philosophy, the association of caring with women, and more narrowly with an idealised maternity, risks positioning care as a limited form of ethics belonging to a world far removed from the ‘tough’ decisions taken in public, legal and corporate spheres. Moreover, ‘the ethics of care’ has been criticised as entrenching an association of women with care work, essentialising a feminine identity that is in many respects derived from unfair gender relations. The ‘ideology’ of mothering, for instance, places the burden of care work on women, then justifies it in terms of it being ‘women’s nature’ to care. Many have questioned Gilligan’s finding that there are distinct ‘styles’ of moral reasoning that fall along simple binary gender lines, and to the extent that there are discernible differences, have queried what role oppressive socialisation has played in their fabrication. Yet Gilligan’s research provided an impetus for considering what an ethics might look like that derived from what have clearly been a profoundly neglected set of relations, the ones that women have often been seen as closest to, and the ones that philosophy, political and economic theory have therefore egregiously ignored. Despite the force of concerns about enacting a form of stereotyping by attending to women’s differences on these questions, this is not the end of the story for the potential rethinking that might be guided by an ethic of care, given the importance of caring work, and its continuing undervaluation in ethical, economic and political discourse.


Fiona Jenkins

Impact It is increasingly implausible to see caring work and other intimate labour as anything other than providing vitally important relationships that structure and intersect all aspects of the public sphere. The confident presumption that care will be given often reflects a level of status and wealth that makes the benefits provided by care invisible, since they can be taken for granted as that which someone will provide. Conversely, poverty, social exclusion and race all entwine with a lack of available care. When poor migrant women leave their own families behind in low-income countries, and are paid pittance wages to provide the care needed to support the economic productivity of men and women in affluent countries, this issue takes on a stark form for feminism. Some argue that this pattern of redistribution of monetised care calls into question feminist compromises with neo-liberalism (as Nancy Fraser has notably described). These substitute carers must both relinquish their own sphere of intimacy and occupy low-paid jobs as insecure workers with few rights in the country that hosts them. They are too often considered as dispensable labour, their work readily replaced. Curiously, such care work is rendered ‘faceless’ by its inscription in a global economy of exchange and loses essential human aspects that the ethic of care seeks to cherish. Can ‘caring work’ instead become a paradigm for the public sphere and a defining element of a form of citizenship which pays attention to the emotional ties that bind us, and the faces that come to matter to us through intimate connections built around human vulnerability and need? How might its values shape sustainability, security or well-being? Judith Butler’s work on the theme of ‘precarious life’ takes up something of this challenge, arguing that vulnerability is at once what most deeply connects us and yet that which global politics distributes most unevenly across populations. States make decisions about the nature, quality and distribution of care, not only for their own citizens, but for those in other places. Fiona Robinson argues that our view of human security would fundamentally change if we recognised not just how insecurity is presently distributed by states, but how responsibilities and relations of care grow out of global interdependencies.

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Concepts such as that of corporate social responsibility have also been linked to an ethics of care by Robinson. This approach recognises the transnational nature of corporate partnerships, and thus the limited capacity of legal systems to regulate them, but nonetheless demands their accountability for caring about the social and natural environment they operate in, together with their economic and social impact. Robinson shows how moral arguments springing from the ethics of care can be used against structural violence, proposing that the contextualised focus that care brings can capture certain types of harm more easily than other theories. A strong ecofeminist tradition further tries to think about responsibilities to the environment through the lens of an ethic of care. Unlike many conventional moral theories, this enables us to recognise non-human needs and rich spheres of interdependency, including our own utter dependency on an environment that our exploitative practices are failing to nurture in return. In an era when women’s participation in the labour force has left large areas of unpaid care work in crisis, what can an ethics of care help us to recognise and value? Swedish gender equality policy leads the world in focussing on the importance of a more even distribution of care between men and women and in supporting moves towards a society when men share equally in caring activity in the home. There is currently some sign of progress in taking up these issues as public policy matters, and significant scholarship has been devoted to them in recent times. As we enter a new era of profound environmental crisis and intensifying global insecurities, it can only be hoped that some of the attention women have been expected to give to caring relations, is carried over into long overdue reconsideration of the nature and needs of the worlds in which we live.


Fiona Jenkins

Key Readings Fraser, Nancy. 2016. ‘Contradictions of Capitalism and Care’. New Left Review, July–August: 100. nancy-fraser-contradictions-of-capital-and-care. Gilligan, Carol. 1993 (1982). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (2nd edn). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Held, Virginia. 2006. The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Noddings, Nel. 1986. Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education. Berkeley: University of California Press. Robinson, Fiona. 2011. The Ethics of Care: A Feminist Approach to Human Security. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Tronto, Joan. 1993. Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care. New York: Routledge.

3 Epistemic Injustice and Questions of Credibility Katrina Hutchison

Abstract This case study highlights the impact of feminist insights on philosophical epistemology and on society. It gives a brief overview of key feminist interventions, including the feminist empiricism of the 1970s and standpoint theory of the 1980s. The main focus, however, is on the impact of recent work on epistemic injustice. Coined by Miranda Fricker, ‘epistemic injustice’ refers to the influence of prejudices based on gender, race and other social identities on individuals’ ability to participate in knowledge practices such as giving testimony. The case study describes how current feminist philosophers are applying these insights to real world settings, such as legal institutions and health care systems, to understand and address prejudice. Keywords Feminist epistemology · Epistemic injustice · Credibility · Expertise · Testimony · Gender bias Katrina Hutchison (B) Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Katrina Hutchison

The Issue: Knowledge Is a Matter of Justice, Not Just Truth Epistemology is the area of philosophy concerned with theorising about knowledge. Prior to feminist interventions, central concerns within epistemology included defining what knowledge is, identifying its sources (how we come to have knowledge) and responding to the threat of scepticism (the possibility that we cannot really know anything). There are deep divisions between philosophers on each of these topics. However, in modern philosophy a dominant and common set of assumptions about epistemology is shared. This presents the quest for knowledge in highly idealised terms, as the pursuit of truth by an individual knower. Individual knowers are imagined as independent, impartial and (perhaps most significantly) as interchangeable. It is assumed that any individual person with the requisite capacities and faculties can acquire the same knowledge about the same reality. The feminist perspectives on epistemology that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century have challenged these assumptions of individualism and the interchangeability of knowers, and have profoundly influenced both the field of epistemology, and its impact on the world. Feminist philosophers have argued that epistemic individualism distorts the nature of human knowledge practices. For example, knowledge acquisition is often a co-operative activity, undertaken to achieve the aims of communities. Moreover, the ability of individuals to contribute to shared knowledge is not fully separable from social practices. For instance, the acceptability of individuals’ accounts of events and phenomena, or of speakers’ testimony, is often dependent on their authority within a community and context. Feminists have suggested that such practices must be held accountable to standards of social justice alongside, and entwined with, standards of truth. Knowers occupy social positions that give them more or less authority, and these are gendered as well as inflected by race, class and other hierarchies. Biases arising from social and political relations can significantly shape even the science disciplines and are rife in the social sciences. Feminist philosophers have therefore been concerned

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with both articulating concepts of knowledge answerable to justice, and with epistemic injustices of various kinds, whether arising from systemic bias or manifesting as direct or indirect harms to individual knowers.

Feminist Interventions One of the earliest interventions to influence epistemology came from feminist critics of science, who argued that science had failed to live up to its own standards of objectivity and rigour due to gender bias. For example, Ruth Bleier drew attention in the 1970s to biased research into the effects of androgens on fighting behaviour, whereby male bias prevented scientists from exploring an alternative (correct) hypotheses about the role of female hormones. She also drew attention to the biased selection of primate groups for studying human characteristics and biased interpretations of primate behaviour, which tended to reinforce a male-centric understanding of group dynamics in both primates and humans. This included focusing on polygynous groups with a single dominant male and ignoring how the needs of female group members shaped these groups’ structure and male roles. Given the privileged position of science as a source of objective knowledge about the world, these criticisms had significant ramifications for epistemology. They challenged assumptions about the impartiality and interchangeability of (at least some) individual knowers. These early feminist challenges to assumptions of mainstream epistemology have been retrospectively referred to by Sandra Harding as ‘feminist empiricism’. In the early 1980s, more explicit forms of feminist epistemology emerged, inspired in part by the work of the feminist empiricists. A major early feminist theory of epistemology is standpoint theory, which explicitly rejected the traditional view of knowers as interchangeable, thus expanding upon and systematising a key insight of feminist empiricism. Not only this, but standpoint theorists argued that knowledge generated or discovered by individuals occupying similar or interchangeable standpoints (such as privileged white men) is likely to contain gaps due to ‘blind spots’ from that standpoint. These blind spots can include inability to access how particular perspectives or experiences


Katrina Hutchison

feel, and an inability to have an objective perspective on the nature and impacts of particular choices or actions of the dominant group. For example, members of an oppressed minority not only have first-hand experiences of their own oppression which the oppressors lack, they also see the oppressive acts themselves from a standpoint that may be able to recognise causes of or systemic patterns in these acts that are not visible to the oppressors. This gives the marginalised epistemic privilege, meaning their viewpoints should be given added weight as insights. Alongside the emergence of explicitly feminist approaches to epistemology, a wider field of ‘social epistemology’ was emerging and challenging the individualistic approach to knowledge typical of traditional epistemology. Some of the leading proponents of social epistemology were men. It is notable that they did not necessarily describe their theories as indebted to feminist interventions or engage with and amplify feminist work. One of the most influential of these approaches was Alvin Goldman’s social epistemology. In the preface to his 1999 book Knowledge in a Social World, he claimed the book ‘lays philosophical foundations for a social theory of knowledge’. Although he does not acknowledge any indebtedness to feminist work, Goldman was familiar with feminist approaches to epistemology and mentions several leading figures such as Harding—often with favourable assessments—in an opening chapter dedicated to critical engagement with opposing social approaches to epistemology. Nevertheless, Harding and other standpoint theorists are not cited in subsequent chapters, and the influence of their views on his own is not discussed. Notwithstanding the lack of citation or recognition by some social epistemologists, feminist interventions laid the groundwork for the emergence of social epistemology in the late 1980s, as Heidi Grasswick argues in a 2018 overview of feminist social epistemology. Other strands of social epistemology focus on the role of testimony in our knowledge practices, and our frequent reliance on expertise. Perhaps the most significant contribution here has been Miranda Fricker’s work on epistemic injustice. In her 2007 book Epistemic Injustice, Fricker develops an account of what she terms ‘distinctively epistemic’ injustices, in which individuals are harmed in their capacity as knowers. She identifies two forms. The first, ‘testimonial injustice’ occurs when

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someone’s testimony is not believed due to a negative stereotype, such a gender or racial stereotype. In the book, Fricker introduces the idea of testimonial injustice via an example from the screenplay of The Talented Mr. Ripley. In this text, character Marge Sherwood’s concerns about villain Tom Ripley are dismissed by her prospective father-in-law, Herb Greenleaf, as ‘female intuition’. This effectively silences her and thwarts uptake of her (correct) suspicions. Marge Sherwood suffers a testimonial injustice because her word is not believed due to prejudicial stereotypes attached to her gender identity. The second type of injustice, Fricker terms ‘hermeneutical injustice’. Hermeneutical deficits occur when a society lacks the conceptual resources to describe certain types of experience. These deficits are unjust when this lack is not merely unlucky, but results from the identity-based exclusion of those having the experience from the social discourse through which shared conceptual resources are developed. Fricker illustrates this type of injustice by reference to the lack of a concept for sexual harassment prior to the women’s movement of the 1970s. The concept emerged once women shared their experiences and realised many of them had been subject to similar treatment and experiences. Participating in the social discourse associated with the women’s movement laid the groundwork for identifying the phenomenon of sexual harassment and naming it. The notion of hermeneutical injustice is rich with potential for exploring situations in which a person’s social position plays a role in rendering important information either unknowable or inexpressible, and it has generated a significant secondary literature. However, it is the idea of testimonial injustice that has had the strongest reverberations. Testimony is central to human practices of sharing and using knowledge, a point that had been increasingly theorised since the emergence of the abovementioned social approaches to epistemology in the 1980s. The concept of epistemic injustice is apt for application in all the areas of our lives where testimony—the communication of knowledge between individuals—is important.


Katrina Hutchison

Impact A significant impact of the emergence of feminist epistemology, including the concept of epistemic injustice, has been to make theoretical work in epistemology seem to matter for certain sorts of issues in the world in a way that it had not previously. Some of the questions of traditional epistemology—particularly questions of scepticism— contribute to the image of philosophy as an idle discipline, one in which eccentric boffins write lengthy treatises on whether or not they exist. In contrast, theoretical work on epistemic injustice has clear application to pressing problems experienced by many people in their daily lives. To give a sense of the breadth of this impact, a 2019 volume edited by Benjamin Sherman and Stacey Goguen offers sections entitled: ‘curing epistemic injustice in healthcare’, ‘arresting epistemic injustice in the legal and correctional systems’ and ‘learning to overcome epistemic injustice in academia, education and sports’. Testimonial injustices in legal and correctional systems can have grave consequences both for victims of crime and for those who are accused of crimes or incarcerated. In Epistemic Injustice, Fricker describes how, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson suffers testimonial injustice as a black man accused of the rape of a white woman. In this case, racist biases prevent the white jurors from treating Robinson’s testimony as credible, with tragic consequences. Chapters in the Sherman and Goguen volume focus on epistemic injustices affecting people who are incarcerated, noting that being a prisoner gives rise to significant credibility deficits. This can undermine the ability of people who are incarcerated to have their basic needs met, including provision of health care for serious conditions. Even outside of the prison system, the sphere of health has been the focus for application of research on epistemic injustice to several quite distinct problems. Much attention has been focused on the ability of patients to have their testimony heard in clinical exchanges, given the hierarchical nature of medicine, and the privileged position of doctors as experts. Other foci of attention have been the hermeneutical injustices suffered by those whose symptoms are disparaged or disregarded due to their social situation, or who are forced into a disempowering ‘diagnosis’ that reinforces an existing power hierarchy. Women have often

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suffered from such injustices, including the disempowering diagnosis of ‘female hysteria’, accepted as a medical diagnosis until the 1950s. More recently, failures to recognise and respond to overwhelming testimonial evidence from women patients suffering serious complications from Essure contraceptive implants delayed the withdrawal of the device from the market. However, it is not only the experiences of patients that are apt for analysis in terms of epistemic injustice. In my recent research, I have drawn on these theoretical resources to analyse women’s careers in surgery. Despite the generally powerful position of surgeons in the health care system, women surgeons experience a gender pay gap and different career trajectories compared to their male peers. Efforts to understand this have largely focused on the role of sexual harassment and bullying, as well as overt sexism and workplaces that are not family friendly. The lens of epistemic injustice has made it possible to uncover a set of further powerful forces that operate alongside these. Credibility in a career context is not limited to recognition of the formal qualification associated with the career. Women surgeons often encounter patients’ failures to correctly identify their role— being mistaken for nursing or administrative staff, or a more junior doctor. But even awareness of formal qualifications and roles does not preclude the operation of powerful gender-biased stereotypes that affect women’s ability to develop peer relations (thwarting some, and forcing others), or to be heard as a more specific type of expert (e.g. thought leader, innovator, authority) on a particular condition or procedure. For example, a vascular surgeon I interviewed in my study described gender-biased patterns of referral of patients from general practitioners. This meant she received higher numbers of patients with varicose veins and lower numbers of patients with complex aneurysms, despite the latter being her area of special interest and expertise. The consequences of this are multiple. Lack of volume of referrals can, in time, affect the basis of the expertise itself, potentially leading the surgeon to become rusty and out of practice. For this surgeon, a frustrating pattern emerged of male colleagues who received aneurysm referrals requesting that she ‘assist’ them to perform the surgery. This potentially reinforced the GPs (mistaken) referral choice, when patients had good outcomes. Moreover, the material recognition associated with being the consultant surgeon


Katrina Hutchison

for these cases (rather than the ‘assistant’) went to the less expert man, rather than the more expert woman. That is, he received payment for the provision of the service. Awareness of these problems is an important precursor to change. Gender bias in the area of health is a problem that health care institutions and professional bodies such as surgical colleges are increasingly seeking to address. The intractable nature of the problem has led to an appetite for analyses and solutions that go beyond addressing explicit sexism and ensuring equality of opportunity. This is clear in the response to my research—I have been approached by the media, surgical colleges and associations and hospital managers all keen to learn more about the findings, and to implement changes to address these epistemic injustices. Although only one example, this experience illustrates how feminist epistemology, and especially theoretical and applied work on epistemic injustice, is leading to new audiences and areas of impact for philosophical research. Acknowledgements Thanks to Dr. Wendy Carlton, for her support as a research assistant. This research was funded by a Macquarie University Research Fellowship (MQRF 63989874) and a British Academy Visiting Fellowship (VF1\103510).

Key Readings Bleier, Ruth. 1978. ‘Bias in Biological and Human Sciences: Some Comments’. Signs 4(1): 159–62. Fricker, Miranda. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Grasswick, Heidi. 2018. ‘Feminist Social Epistemology’. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 edn), edited by Edward N. Zalta. Harding, Sandra. 1986. The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

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Hutchison, Katrina. 2019. ‘Epistemic Injustice in Careers: Insights from a Study with Women Surgeons’. In Overcoming Epistemic Injustice: Social and Psychological Perspectives, edited by Sherman and Goguen, 183–200. New York: Rowman and Littlefield International. Sherman, Benjamin R. and Stacey Goguen, eds. 2019. Overcoming Epistemic Injustice: Social and Psychological Perspectives. New York: Rowman and Littlefield International.

Part III Political Science

4 Political Representation: The Gendered Effects of Voting Systems Marian Sawer and Manon Tremblay

Abstract In political science, the classic works on voting systems rarely noticed their impact on the representation of women. It was not until the 1980s that scholars showed that the type of electoral system was a key predictor of women’s legislative recruitment. This new knowledge was quickly taken up by those advising on policy for transitional democracies and by electoral reformers in the old democracies. In the 1990s, it was combined with knowledge of how quotas might increase women’s political representation—particularly when there was a good fit between quotas, the type of electoral system and party structures. Increased awareness of intersectionality made electoral system scholarship more complicated—for LGBTQ minorities first-past-the-post systems might offer greater rewards than proportional representation (PR). Marian Sawer (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] Manon Tremblay University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Marian Sawer and Manon Tremblay

Keywords Voting systems · Women · Descriptive representation · Quotas

The Issue: The Effects of Voting Systems on Descriptive Representation Voting systems are a central feature of democratic political systems and their political effects have long been of interest to political scientists. As long ago as the mid-nineteenth century, democratic theorist John Stuart Mill was advocating a form of proportional representation (PR) to ensure the representation of minorities. Today there are three main types of voting system. The oldest is the majoritarian system usually based on single-member constituencies. It requires either a plurality of votes (first-past-the-post) or a majority (achieved for example through the distribution of preferences of the least successful candidates until a majority is achieved for one candidate). The basic goal is to produce majority government and characteristically the leading party gains a higher proportion of seats than of votes. The second main type is PR, including party-list systems and systems based on the single transferable vote. The chief objective here is to ensure parliamentary representation of the differing socio-political groups found in civil society. Today there is also an increasing number of mixed-member proportional systems (MMP) or related parallel systems, which try to achieve ‘the best of both worlds’ by giving voters two votes, one for a constituency representative and one for a party list. As well as providing for geographical representation through constituency representatives, MMP can be a fully proportional system when the party vote is used to determine the overall proportion of seats to which the party is entitled. Despite the long association of political science with the study of voting systems and their political consequences, the classic works rarely noted their impact on the representation of women. Even when there was increasing interest in the effects of voting systems on the representation of ethnic as well as political minorities, the gender effects of voting systems remained largely out of view.

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Feminist Interventions It was not until the 1980s that scholars began to question the idea that voting systems were gender-neutral and to explore the effects of different electoral arrangements on political representation. Pioneers in the study of women and electoral systems such as Wilma Rule found that the type of voting system was a key predictor of women’s electoral success, although women’s movement mobilisation was also important. By the twenty-first century, Rule’s seminal work was being extended by scholars such as Pippa Norris, Richard Matland and a growing number of others. In general terms, party-list PR was found to be the most favourable system for the election of women. In majoritarian systems with single-member electorates, political parties tend to see (heterosexual) men as ‘safer’ candidates. By contrast, in PR systems the construction of a balanced ticket is likely to be seen as electorally advantageous in appealing to different sections of the community, as well as appeasing different sections of the party. This is the first reason that PR systems are good for women—when parties are constructing multi-member tickets rather than selecting a candidate for a single-member electorate, diversity is a way to respond both to internal pressures and to the composition of the electorate. A second reason why PR systems were likely to be more favourable to the legislative recruitment of women is that they facilitate the representation of minor parties which may have less inherited gender bias than long-established major parties. This is particularly true of ‘postmaterialist’ parties founded after the arrival of the ‘second wave’ of the women’s movement and other new social movements. For example, around the world the Greens are often led by women and have a large proportion of women in their parliamentary parties. ‘Postmaterialist’ parties lack the industrial traditions of older parties of the left; are less likely to be dominated by the transactional machine politics of older parties; and more likely to have open procedures through which women can make their claims. That said, the capacity of minor parties to be represented in PR systems also depends on the election threshold, that is the minimum percentage of votes needed before seats are allocated in


Marian Sawer and Manon Tremblay

the legislature. A high threshold (for example 10% of the vote in Turkey) creates difficulties for minor party representation and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is critical of thresholds of more than 3%. A third reason why PR is favourable to women’s legislative culture is its effects on political culture. Because PR generally results in a multiparty system and coalition or minority governments, it encourages a political culture based more on collaboration and consensus seeking— often regarded as female characteristics. In other words, the political culture is more aligned with the gender norms prescribed for women. In contrast, women often feel disadvantaged by the adversarial political culture fostered by majoritarian electoral and party systems. If they do partake in the gladiatorial contests characteristic of such systems, they are likely to be judged as performing in gender-inappropriate ways (as ‘women warriors’). A fourth and increasingly important reason why PR systems are good for women is that they facilitate the introduction of electoral gender quotas, whether party quotas or legislated candidate quotas. The inclusion of women in a party list, which is often done centrally, is easier than trying to impose quotas in a single-member electorate system, where they may be seen as supplanting local party democracy. Ideally, the quota will be accompanied by a placement mandate ensuring that women are placed in winnable positions on the list—for example, the zipper system adopted by the Swedish Social Democrats in 1993, whereby male and female names alternate on the party list. Other features of PR systems have been found to have their own gender effects, such as district magnitude (the number of seats in a given constituency) and party magnitude (the number a party can expect to win). The lower these magnitudes, the higher the challenge for women to be elected. Another crucial distinction within party-list systems is between closed lists, where the party determines the order in which their candidates are elected and open lists, where voters can choose between the candidates on the party list. However, it is debatable whether closed or open lists are more women-friendly; it can be argued this depends on whether it is easier to persuade party elites or the electorate

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to vote for women. Open lists make ‘gender affinity effects’ possible— gender-based voting by those concerned to increase the political representation of women or, indeed, to contest such an increase.

Impact Within political science there had been widespread belief that modernisation would inevitably result in a rising tide of gender equality. This belief was challenged by a global fall in the proportion of women legislators (from 14.8% in 1988 to 10.3% in 1993) following the breakup of the Soviet bloc. This fall was closely monitored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Although the number of countries with competitive elections tripled at this time, the advent of transitional democracies did not result in women sharing more equally in elected office. This was quickly framed by UN agencies and international donor bodies as a readily quantifiable democratic deficit; the parliamentary representation of women became a standard measure of the quality of democracy and was included in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the subsequent Sustainable Development Goals. To address this democratic deficit, gender specialists within organisations of regional and global governance drew attention to the new knowledge concerning the gender effects of voting systems. For example, the Platform for Action endorsed by 189 countries at the Fourth World Congress on Women in Beijing, asked governments to review the impact of electoral systems on the representation of women and to consider, where appropriate, electoral reform (PFA 1995, para 190).1 Knowledge about the gender effects of voting systems and use of representation of women as a democratic indicator was combined with a new normative commitment to ensuring women achieved ‘critical mass’ in public decision-making. As stated in General Recommendation No. 23 by the UN Committee overseeing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW):


Marian Sawer and Manon Tremblay

Research demonstrates that if women’s participation reaches 30–35 per cent (generally termed a ‘critical mass’) there is real impact on political style and the content of decisions, and political life is revitalized. (CEDAW 1997, para 16)2

In a related development there was a dramatic increase in the adoption of electoral gender quotas around the world, beginning with Argentina in 1991. Diffusion of these new electoral norms at the regional level was particularly important and 11 Latin American countries followed the lead of Argentina. The use of quotas was endorsed by the CEDAW Committee as a temporary measure necessary to make up for centuries of male domination of the public sphere (CEDAW 1997, para 15).3 Research on the effectiveness of electoral gender quotas added to the growing knowledge about the gender effects of voting systems and, in particular, identified the importance of a good fit between the type of electoral system, candidate quotas and party structures. Transnational institutions such as the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) assisted in the dissemination of this knowledge, for example publishing a handbook in 2007, explaining which were the ‘best-fit, medium-fit and non-favourable combinations of electoral systems and gender quotas’.4 International IDEA has also disseminated new knowledge about how public funding of political parties can be used to promote gender equality, whether through making funding conditional on gender ratios among party candidates, or earmarking part of it for gender equality initiatives within parties. Turning to social media, a Facebook page on electoral gender quotas was managed by Mona Lena Krook to disseminate knowledge about developments around the world. By 2019 some 140 countries had adopted electoral gender quotas, whether in the form of party or legislative quotas or reserved seats. Twenty-four OECD countries had party quotas and ten had legislative quotas, with a range of sanctions— from loss of public funding to rejection of non-compliant party lists. Quotas had also brought a number of Global South countries to the top of the IPU league table for the parliamentary representation of women. Increased awareness of the significance of intersectionality has introduced a new challenge for electoral system scholarship. While

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party-list PR has been found the most effective way of increasing the political representation of women and of dispersed ethnic minorities, this may not be true for LGBTQ minorities. This is because LGBTQ communities tend to be geographically concentrated in inner-city areas, meaning that first-past-the-post or majoritarian systems may offer greater political opportunities. The application of a gender lens to the study of voting systems has revealed they are far from gender neutral. This new knowledge has been of immediate policy relevance in the rebuilding of political institutions in post-conflict societies and in transitional democracies. It has also been of great significance in older democracies—particularly those with the type of electoral system found to be unfavourable to the political representation of women and dispersed ethnic minorities. It has supported arguments for the introduction of MMP in New Zealand, Scotland or Wales and (less successfully) the arguments for electoral reform in Canada. But gender scholarship on voting systems is now grappling with new forms of diversity that have become politically salient, a new range of theoretical and conceptual issues and new applied insights.

Notes 1. Platform_for_Action.pdf. 2. 3. 4.

Key Readings Krook, Mona Lena and Pippa Norris. 2014. ‘How Quotas Work: The Supply and Demand Model Revisited’. In Deeds and Words: Gendering Politics After


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Joni Lovenduski, edited by Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs, 185–206. Colchester: ECPR Press. Matland, Richard E. 1993. ‘Institutional Variables Affecting Female Representation in National Legislatures: The Case of Norway’. The Journal of Politics 55(3): 737–55. Rule, Wilma. 1987. ‘Electoral Systems, Contextual Factors and Women’s Opportunity for Election to Parliament in Twenty-Three Democracies’. Western Political Quarterly 40(3): 477–98. Rule, Wilma and Joseph F. Zimmerman, eds. 1994. Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities. Westport: Greenwood Press. Tremblay, Manon, ed. 2012 (2008). Women and Legislative Representation: Electoral Systems, Political Parties, and Sex Quotas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

5 Parliaments as Gendered Workplaces Sonia Palmieri

Abstract Women’s gradual entry into politics was one of the most significant changes to parliamentary democracy in the twentieth century, revealing challenges not only faced by women parliamentarians themselves, but also inherent in the concept of representative democracy. By applying a new lens to the study of parliaments—that of ‘gendered workplaces’—feminist political scientists have uncovered historic, institutionalised discriminatory practices against women (and men). A 2011 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) global report on ‘gender-sensitive’ parliaments has had widespread policy impact, with international standard-setting organisations producing guidelines to assist parliaments reflect on their institutional effectiveness and inclusivity. In response, parliaments have instituted a range of gendersensitive changes to institutional procedures and practices, particularly aimed at improving workplace culture. Sonia Palmieri (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Sonia Palmieri

Keywords Parliaments · Feminist institutionalism · Gender equality · Workplaces

The Issue: The Discriminatory Nature of Parliamentary Practices Women’s gradual, but ever-increasing entry into politics was one of the most significant changes to parliamentary democracy in the twentieth century, uncovering challenges not only faced by women parliamentarians themselves, but also inherent in the concept of representative democracy. Evidence of historic, institutionalised discriminatory practices against women—ranging from physical and psychological violence, and deliberate exclusion from positions of leadership, to more subtle slights and stereotyping—has come to light. Women’s political presence would also bring into question the (untested) understanding within the discipline of political science that women were unfit for politics and that representative democracy did not require descriptive representation. The use of a new theoretical lens—that of ‘gendered workplaces’— has played a critical role in bringing this evidence to light. Mainstream perspectives on parliament assumed a particular institutional design, predicated on the availability and ability of men to travel long distances to their workplace and work for weeks at a time, until late hours. When parliamentary studies assume that Members of Parliament can rely on a wife, shouldering both family responsibilities and a significant amount of constituency work, they fail to recognise the gendered nature of the institution, and the full range of policy reforms required to become truly inclusive and representative. At a normative level at least, the inclusion of women in the political sphere has come to be seen as a precondition of representative democracy and good governance. An overwhelming majority of states have ratified international conventions and adopted resolutions that enshrine women’s rights to vote and take part in the political affairs of their country. Yet women remain under-represented in most parliaments around the world. As of September 2019, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) reports that women constitute a quarter of all parliamentarians (at 24.5%). While

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this figure represents an improvement in a longitudinal sense (with an increase of over 11 percentage points since 1999), the rate of increase each year fluctuates significantly (in 2016 and 2017, it was only 0.1 percentage points, compared with 0.9 percentage points in 2018). While women’s under-representation can be explained by the social, economic and political disadvantages women face in running for politics, research suggests that their experience of parliament once they are elected also has an impact. By focusing on the contribution of feminist scholarship to the understanding of parliament as a gendered workplace, this case study explores the debates and policy reforms that can make parliament a more ‘attractive’ career option for women.

Feminist Interventions Initial Explorations of Women’s Contribution to Politics Since the 1970s, significant research agendas have been dedicated to the question of how—and/or to what extent—elected women have been able to fulfil their own understanding of descriptive and substantive representation. Whereas the concept of descriptive representation sees women legitimising democracy by contributing to a more ‘representationally diverse’ parliament, ideas of substantive democracy require women to ‘act on behalf of other women’. Not surprisingly, feminist theorising on women’s impact in parliament has evolved over time. Following the initial waves of women’s entry into the political arena, researchers, predominantly from the United States (US), were keen to assert the impact of the presence, rather than the oft-noted absence, of women in the political sphere. So-called ‘difference feminists’ assumed that because of women’s ‘difference’ from men, they would engage in the legislative role differently to their male colleagues and have different concerns and policy priorities. They asked, in the words of American public policy scholar Michelle Saint-Germain, ‘does their difference make a difference?’


Sonia Palmieri

These researchers found that women primarily differed from men in terms of their policy priorities. They also expected that the more women there were in parliament, the more opportunity women would have to exhibit a distinctive style of ‘doing’ politics, and thereby ‘civilise’ the parliament. These expectations were propelled by a broader discourse of ‘democratic renewal’ and, for some, provided a strong argument for women’s greater entry into politics. If women were better represented in parliament, politics would be less adversarial, less corrupt. Politics would become a nobler profession. Women’s ability to civilise and reform the parliament by being ‘more collaborative’, ‘more representative’ and ‘less adversarial’ was seen as coming from women’s different life experiences. Women’s propensity for establishing caucuses of their own, for example, was seen as women taking their ‘cues from an alternative politics of everyday life’ and women’s long-standing tradition of non-partisan voluntary activity. The women interviewed by US political scientist Janet Flammang in the mid-1980s entered politics with the experience of belonging to feminist organisations, which they saw as training grounds for aspiring women candidates. More importantly, they saw this experience as having prepared them ‘in a different, but equally legitimate way’, and certainly contributed to their belief that ‘male organisations were not the only ones to provide bona fide political skills’.

Uncovering the Role of Institutions More recent thinking has aimed to understand the conditions under which women might be able to pursue reforms—of any kind— in political institutions. Accepting women’s differential experience of parliamentary or legislative politics, this research emphasises the role of the particular institution in which women are expected to make an impact. Specifically, the parliament has become acknowledged as an institution saturated in gendered expectations, norms, rules and practices that have traditionally conferred institutionalised power upon men. Those who adopt certain masculinist modes of behaviour—usually, although not exclusively, men—have institutional power and legitimacy

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conferred on them. By defining institutions as an aggregation of (usually masculine) ritualised practices and rules, feminist institutionalists argued that institutional norms shape the behaviour of male and female legislators and breed particular workplace cultures. Institutions were no longer seen as gender neutral, but rather, immersed in gender. Through an institutionalist lens, feminist political science understands that women parliamentarians are required to operate within the boundaries of legislative norms in order to succeed and indeed survive. Routine taken-for-granted practices and ways of being have been entrenched as a result of politically negotiated orders and decisions of particular actors and interest groups within the organisation. When a parliament privileges characteristics associated with men over feminine characteristics, women’s ‘divergent’ leadership styles are delegitimised. Consensual, collaborative styles are rendered obsolete—particularly if they have been developed through different pathways such as ‘prior community experience’. Importantly, feminist political scientists have noted that the responsibility to adapt to masculinised institutional behaviour is always imposed on women and other outsiders.

Impact In 2011, the IPU published a global report on gender-sensitive parliaments, reflecting data compiled from hundreds of questionnaires and interviews with parliamentary authorities and Members of Parliament, as well as 17 national case studies from each corner of the globe. The report coined one of the first definitions of the term, noting that a gender-sensitive parliament is: a parliament that responds to the needs and interests of both men and women in its composition, structures, processes, and outputs. Gender-sensitive parliaments remove the barriers to women’s full participation and offer a positive role model to society at large.

While the concept of a gender-sensitive parliament involves gendered assessment of all parliamentary functions and outputs—including the


Sonia Palmieri

legislative process—the report was premised on the understanding that parliaments are gendered workplaces. That is, the workplace of parliament, understood through its defined hours of operation, attendance records, employee allowances in many cases, office space and other resources, reinforces a masculinised institutional culture. The report noted that if parliaments genuinely wanted to improve their representativeness, efficiency and effectiveness, they would need to adapt their workplace culture and infrastructure. The report also emphasised the lead role parliaments should be taking in the achievement of the global goal of gender equality. Women alone could not realistically shoulder the responsibility of ensuring parliamentary outputs did not (inadvertently) result in discrimination. Parliaments would need to reconsider their operations and resources to promote gender equality more effectively. In making the case for strengthened parliamentary responsibility, the report identified five key strategies: • systematically include women in all parliamentary positions of authority and across all policy areas including the ‘hard’ portfolios of foreign affairs, the economy and finance; • create (or enact) a parliamentary mandate to promote gender equality, such as a gender equality or gender mainstreaming law, monitoring and evaluation frameworks and gender policies to sanction discriminatory practices; • establish specific mechanisms to promote and monitor the rest of the parliament’s contribution to gender equality, such as parliamentary committees, caucuses, gender focal points or technical gender units; • ensure male politicians and political parties are responsible (and held accountable) for the advancement of gender equality; and • ensure the parliamentary culture prioritises respect for women as both parliamentary staff and Members of Parliament, including through the elimination of all forms of violence against women. Since 2011, various international organisations have produced guidelines for parliaments to assess their own levels of gender sensitivity,

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including the IPU, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). Academic research has also begun encouraging and documenting the work of specialised parliamentary bodies for promoting gender equality (see GenParlNet1 ). Parliaments, in response, have instituted a series of policy changes including: Rule changes to guarantee women’s leadership • Internal rules of parliament changed to ensure women hold 40% of all leadership positions (Uganda). • Procedural rules changed to ensure a female candidate is always considered for leadership of committees (Indonesia). • Changes to guarantee speakership (and/or other leadership) positions are alternated between men and women (Namibia, Tunisia). • Changes to guarantee the equitable participation of men and women in leadership of the Board and commission presidencies (Mexico). Mandating parliamentary bodies to monitor gender equality outcomes • Reference Groups established to develop and regularly monitor action plans, including the implementation of planned activities (Sweden, the United Kingdom). Policy changes to outlaw harassment and violence against women • Law enacted to penalise incidents of violence against women in politics (Bolivia). • Sexual harassment and violence against women prohibited under the Code of Conduct for parliamentarians (New Zealand). • Parliamentary staff and MPs reminded of legislation on harassment and violence against women in regular bulletins (Belgium). Procedural changes to mainstream gender equality in legislation and the budget


Sonia Palmieri

• Legislation passed to establish legal and procedural gender mainstreaming mandates for parliament (Spain, Georgia, Vietnam). • Databases created through which the public can monitor the passage of gender-sensitive legislation and other gender equality events held in parliament (Ukraine, Republic of Korea). • Mandating specific committees to address gender issues in the national budget, including through public hearings (The Netherlands). • Providing gender-analysis training to committee members (Canada). • Changing the standing orders to ensure all committees consider the gender equality implications of their work (Fiji). Procedural changes to establish gender mainstreaming bodies • Attributing responsibility to a specific committee to ensure the work of the entire parliament is gender mainstreamed (Sweden). Changes to institute gender-responsive language • Codifying the use of gender-neutral terminology in all documents (Germany). • Requesting Members refer to positions in more gender-neutral terms—e.g. ‘Speaker’ rather than ‘Madam Speaker’ (Australia); or conversely, feminising positions of leadership—e.g. ‘Presidenta’ rather than ‘Presidente’ (Brazil). Changes to workplace practices • Sittings adjourned after 6 or 7 p.m. (Luxembourg, Peru). • Votes not held on Mondays or Fridays to allow members longer periods of time in their constituencies (Sweden). • Discontinuation of quorum calls to allow members a more flexible work schedule (Israel). • Members allowed a leave of absence for parenting (United Kingdom, in Denmark and Estonia substitute members take the place of a titular member on parental leave), or a proxy vote (in the Australian House of Representatives, for breastfeeding mothers).

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• Childcare centres or family rooms established (Australia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland and Sweden). The recent focus of both academic and practitioner gender research on parliament as a workplace continues to redefine understanding and practice of this institution. Political institutions that attract, and retain, a more inclusive and diverse range of members are important, not only because they are more representative of their community, but because they can serve as role models for all workplaces (Fig. 5.1).

Fig. 5.1 The late Hon. Dr. Jiko Luveni, Parliament Speaker, opening Fiji’s first ‘Women’s Parliament Fiji’ in 2016 (Source Parliament of the Republic of Fiji,, accessed 13 November 2019. Reprinted with permission)


Sonia Palmieri

Note 1. gender-focused-parliamentary-institutions-research-network.

Key Readings Childs, Sarah. 2015. The Good Parliament. Report to House of Commons. Bristol: University of Bristol. Erikson, Josefina and Cecilia Josefsson. 2019. ‘The Legislature as a Gendered Workplace: Exploring Members of Parliament’s Experience of Working in the Swedish Parliament’. International Political Science Review 40(2): 197– 214. Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2011. Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: A Global Review of Good Practice. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union. Palmieri, Sonia. 2019. ‘Feminist Institutionalism and Gender Sensitive Parliaments: Relating Theory and Practice’. In Gender Innovation in Political Science: New Norms, New Knowledge, edited by M. Sawer and K. Baker, 173–194. Palgrave Macmillan. Wängnerud, Lena. 2015. The Principles of Gender-Sensitive Parliaments. New York: Routledge.

6 Violence Against Women in Politics Mona Lena Krook

Abstract Political scientists and practitioners have long been troubled by political violence, defined as the use of force, or threatened use of force, to achieve political ends. However, gaps in existing approaches to understanding political violence have become increasingly evident. In the 1990s, there were efforts to recognise rape as a tool of war and since then feminist political scientists have expanded the definition of political violence. Dialogue and partnerships across the scholar– practitioner divide have been vital for raising awareness, collecting data, and devising solutions. Consensus is developing that violence against women in politics is a serious threat to democracy, human rights, and gender equality around the world—it cannot simply be dismissed as ‘politics as usual’ or the ‘normal cost’ of political participation. Keywords Political violence · Women in politics · Democracy Mona Lena Krook (B) Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Mona Lena Krook

The Issue: Rethinking Definitions of Political Violence Political scientists and practitioners have long been troubled by political violence, defined as the use of force, or threatened use of force, to achieve political ends. In a bid to gain political power, perpetrators may issue bomb threats, or gather in menacing ways in front of polling stations, to deter certain citizens from voting. To gain their preferred policy outcomes, perpetrators may intimidate political candidates and office holders, pressuring them to make decisions opposed to their personal preferences as well as those of voters. Political violence thus poses serious threats to democracy, with actors prevailing through fear of injury or death, undermining fair voting procedures and rational and inclusive political deliberation. Despite a large literature on this topic, gaps in existing approaches to understanding political violence have become increasingly evident in recent years. Some of the earliest feminist moves to expand this agenda came in the 1990s, with activist efforts to recognise rape as a tool of war. Prior to this, rape was a widespread but largely unacknowledged aspect of political conflict, viewed simply as part of a broader landscape of brutality, meriting no particular attention of its own. This changed during the international tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, during which rape came to be understood as a crime of war (1996), violating the rules and customs of war; as a crime of genocide (1998), seeking the destruction of a group in whole or in part; and as a crime against humanity (2001), constituting a fundamental violation of human dignity. These advances highlighted the need to adopt broader definitions of ‘violence,’ as well as to recognise that the motives and means of political violence may be deeply gendered.

Feminist Interventions Attention to gender and political violence has continued to grow in the intervening years, inspiring a large literature and series of policy interventions related to women in conflict and post-conflict contexts. At

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the same time, a parallel and sometimes intersecting new area of interest has emerged, focusing on violence perpetrated against politically active women. The issue surfaced organically in different places: in conversations among locally elected women in Bolivia in the early 2000s, who began to theorise what they called ‘political violence and harassment against women’; in Asian networks of political women concerned in the mid-2000s to map and address the problem of ‘violence against women in politics’; and among local and international activists in Kenya in the late 2000s, who observed and sought to combat ‘electoral gender-based violence.’ Over the last five years, international practitioners have increasingly picked up on this issue. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly first recognised it as a problem in 2011, calling for zero tolerance for violence against female candidates and elected officials. After several years of research, UN Women and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) published a programming guide for tackling violence against women in elections in 2017. And in October 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women presented a special report on the issue to the General Assembly.1 Actors outside the UN system have also been very active in collecting data and devising solutions to combat violence against women in politics. In 2016, the National Democratic Institute launched the #NotTheCost campaign,2 developing a suite of tools to observe violence against women in elections, address violence inside political parties, and document violent incidents against politically active women. That same year, the Inter-Parliamentary Union undertook the first global study of sexism, violence, and harassment against female members of parliament. And in 2017, following consultations across Latin America, the Inter-American Commission of Women published a model law to prevent, punish, and eradicate violence against women in political life. Academic research on this topic is a good example of how gender innovation can sharpen the conceptual tools available in the social sciences. On the one hand, it shows how applying a gender lens


Mona Lena Krook

requires rethinking traditional approaches to studying political violence, in terms of definitions, motives, and forms of violence. On the other hand, it problematises elements of the political landscape that are often normalised, highlighting how violence may be used against women specifically as a means to deter their political participation.

Definitions of Political Violence Existing datasets on political violence tend to limit their focus to acts of physical violence, which can be observed and are often recorded in hospital and other types of state records. Acts of a physical nature, however, do not exhaust the spectrum of activities that can be identified as instances of ‘violence.’ Traditional theories of electoral violence recognise as much, mentioning intimidation (psychological violence) and property damage (economic violence) as tactics used to deter voter participation and influence policy-making. The result is a disconnect between theories of political violence and the data used to analyse its prevalence and impact. Feminist research, in contrast, tends to adopt a more comprehensive definition of violence, emphasising a continuum of violent behaviours. International and national frameworks thus enumerate a number of kinds of violence against women. Article 2 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) identifies three types: physical, sexual, and psychological violence. Economic violence is added as a fourth type in Article 3 of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention (2011). According to World Bank data from 189 countries, all four forms of violence appear in national legislation, albeit with varying degrees of recognition: physical violence is criminalised in 137, psychological violence in 134, sexual violence in 106, and economic violence in 86. Feminist insights inform the emerging academic and practitioner literature on violence against women in politics. Data collected by the Inter-Parliamentary Union for its 2016 issues brief3 illustrates why an expanded approach is necessary for understanding the full extent of this

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problem. While one-quarter of the female parliamentarians interviewed had experienced physical violence during the course of their political work, more than 80% stated they had suffered psychological violence, one-third some form of economic violence, and one-fifth some type of sexual violence. Physical aggression thus reflects only one—and not even the most common—form of violence experienced by female politicians.

Motives of Political Violence The aim of political violence, as traditionally conceptualised, is to interfere in some way in the political process. As such, its democratic costs are well-recognised. Until recently, acts of violence against women have not been similarly problematised. Despite violating values of equality by seeking to put women ‘in their place,’ instances of gender-based violence tend to be ‘naturalised,’ and thus viewed as outside the arena of public concern, due to cultural norms regarding gender hierarchy. The result is continued indifference on the part of both state and society, even as more countries adopt legislation addressing violence against women. Violence against women in the political sphere is even less recognised as a ‘problem,’ with many actors—including political women themselves—considering violence as simply the ‘cost of doing politics.’ Yet such behaviours also have serious democratic implications, violating women’s political rights while also eroding the political rights of the public at large. Gender stereotypes, as argued by feminist historians and political theorists, are rooted in tendencies to associate men with the public sphere of politics and women with the private sphere of the home. Feminist psychologists show that perceived violations of appropriate gender roles give rise to hostility against women seeking to participate in politics, tainting assessments of their qualifications and performance. These dynamics interfere in democratic processes by silencing women’s voices in political debates, as well as by undermining citizens’ rights to vote for and be represented by female leaders.


Mona Lena Krook

Means of Political Violence Politically active women experience physical violence, in the form of assassinations, kidnappings, and beatings. The tangible nature of these acts makes them the most widely recognised and least contested forms of violence against women in the political sphere. However, they tend to be relatively rare, with perpetrators opting for ‘less costly’ means of violence before escalating to physical attacks. Reducing violence against women in politics to these types of acts can thus create a misleading impression as to the nature and prevalence of aggression and intimidation directed at politically active women. Psychological violence is perhaps the most common form of violence against women in politics. It can occur inside and outside of official political settings and include death and rape threats, as well as sexist heckling and name-calling, both in person and via social media. Awareness of sexual violence has expanded in the wake of the #MeToo movement, with growing number of female political actors disclosing their experiences with sexual assault and sexual harassment in connection with their political work. Economic violence encompasses harms against women’s property, like defacing their campaign materials or their personal possessions, as well as systematically denying the resources made available to their male counterparts. Semiotic violence, less recognised than the four other types, is perpetrated through degrading images and sexist language intended to sexually objectify and symbolically annihilate women as political actors.

Impact Research and activism to address violence against women in politics is still in its early stages. Dialogue and partnerships across the scholar– practitioner divide, however, have been vital for advancing work on this topic—raising awareness, collecting data, and devising solutions to the problem. A recent example is the expert group meeting convened in March 2018 by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women,

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bringing together academics, politicians, and practitioners to share experiences of violence as well as emerging frameworks for understanding and tackling it on a global scale. Consensus seems to be developing around the notion that violence against women in politics is a serious threat to democracy, human rights, and gender equality around the world—it cannot simply be dismissed as ‘politics as usual’ or the ‘normal cost’ of political participation. Feminist academic research on this topic is thus both intellectually and politically important. It challenges reigning concepts of political violence, suggesting that existing frameworks need to be broadened to encapsulate a broader range of activities posing a threat to both electoral and personal integrity. This requires, empirically and methodologically, revisiting traditional strategies of data collection and analysis. In so doing, this work opens up new frontiers for exploring resistance to women’s political participation and leadership. Politically, this work can play a vital role in shaping efforts to recognise and address violence against women in politics, providing arguments and conceptual frameworks to advance these debates. Feminist expertise, no doubt, will be indispensable for devising strategies to ensure that women can participate in politics fully, freely, and without interference.

Notes 1. 2018.pdf. 2. 3.


Mona Lena Krook

Key Readings Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2016. Sexism, Harassment and Violence Against Women Parliamentarians. Geneva: IPU. Krook, Mona Lena. 2020. Violence Against Women in Politics. New York: Oxford University Press. Krook, Mona Lena and Juliana Restrepo Sanin. 2019. ‘The Cost of Doing Politics? Analyzing Violence and Harassment Against Female Politicians’. Perspectives on Politics. Advance online publication. s1537592719001397. Krook, Mona Lena, Juliana Restrepo Sanin, Flavia Biroli, Rebecca Kuperberg, Elin Bjarnegård and Julie Ballington. 2018. ‘Critical Perspectives: Violence Against Women in Politics: Theory, Data, and Methods’. Politics & Gender 14(4): 695–701. Restrepo Sanin, Juliana. 2018. ‘Violence Against Women in Politics in Latin America’. PhD thesis, Rutgers University.

7 Feminist Interventions in Security Studies Katrina Lee-Koo

Abstract Until recently security studies has remained immune to feminist critique. However, the end of the cold war and the growing agenda of global security issues ushered in opportunities to challenge traditional ways of theorising security. The use of a ‘gender lens’ immediately brought into sharp focus the ways in which gender shapes patterns of global security and insecurity. A growing body of research demonstrates this in relation to the conduct of armed conflict, efforts to create enduring peace, responding to climate change and natural disasters, efforts to address statelessness and forced migration, and the rise of violent extremism. Despite debate between feminists, the overall impact has been the capacity to better understand the gendered consequences of global security, and develop gender responsive security policies and approaches.

Katrina Lee-Koo (B) Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Katrina Lee-Koo

Keywords Feminist · Security studies · Global politics · International relations

The Issue: The Limitations of Traditional Security Studies In 1991, prominent US security studies scholar Stephen Walt sought to stem the post-Cold War tide of non-traditional security studies by stating that the field should be pre-occupied with the study of the ‘threat, use and control of military force’. Up until this point, it had been. Since the end of the Second World War, security studies had retained a strong commitment to realist principles and practices; states remained the referent and purveyor of global security, and strong state interests set the global security agenda. For the period of the Cold War, the bipolar international system dictated that the nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviet Union, the maintenance of superpower spheres of influence, and the containment of proxy conflicts remained top of the agenda. Despite realist dominance of security studies throughout this period, concerns with the limitations of this agenda and its theorising grew. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, the opportunity arose to challenge some of the perceived failings of the realist approach. According to critics, foremost among these was the failure of traditional security studies to look beyond the state at the constellation of other actors and issues that cause global insecurity and existential threat to millions of people around the world. This included a failure to consider the roles of identity politics in shaping knowledge and experiences of security and insecurity.

Feminist Interventions It was in this last decade of the twentieth century that feminist scholarship made inroads into security studies. Similarly, constructivist, critical, post-structuralist and post-colonial scholars were undertaking critical interventions into the broader discipline of international

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relations. In terms of security studies, these interventions sought to do two things: to expand the agenda beyond statism; and to challenge the ontological and epistemological stranglehold that realism had over the field—in other words, to challenge how the concept of security was thought about. Collectively these critically minded scholars demanded a rethink of global security, noting that current and emerging threats to global life extended beyond the state and might include environmental change, human displacement and forced migration, global pandemics (such as the then emerging HIV/AIDS crisis), state-sponsored mass atrocity and the growing global gap between the rich and the poor. Amidst this, feminist security studies emerged with a particular focus on how gender identity and gender politics shape experiences of security and insecurity. It is important to note that feminist security studies encompass a range of approaches. Like most theories, there are many ‘types’ that are influenced by the existing divisions in feminist theory (such as liberal, radical, Marxist and post-colonial feminisms) and by the divisions within security studies and international relations more broadly (such as realist, liberal, critical, constructivist and post-modernist IR). Despite these divisions, it can be argued that feminist approaches have collectively made four substantial interventions into security studies. First, feminist security studies scholars seek to render women visible in global security. In her classic 1990 Bananas, Beaches and Bases, Cynthia Enloe famously asked: ‘Where are the women?’ in international politics. This began a process of building an empirical account of a field that had largely documented only men’s wars, men’s diplomacy and statesmanship. This innovation provided a plethora of accounts of women’s unique experiences in traditional security concerns such as armed conflict. However, it also looked outside those traditional sectors to identify how women could be rendered insecure by a range of global political action. Here, the work of feminist security scholars intersects with the interventions made by security scholars concerned with environmental, health, humanitarian and other expanding sectors of security. Second, the application of a ‘gender lens’ to our analysis of global security issues reveals the gender politics at work. The use of a gender lens can best be described as a filter that is placed over an issue or


Katrina Lee-Koo

context to bring into focus gendered identities, politics and relationships. In security studies, the application of a gender lens has revealed, for example, that the majority of civilians who die in a mass atrocity are men, while the majority of civilians who die in the aftermath of conflict (due to poverty or lack of healthcare and services) are women. A gender lens can show that while women and girls generally make up around 50% of displaced populations, they have significantly different experiences from men in terms of mobility, access to aid and assistance and protection from violence. Similarly, a gender lens can expose the ways that women experience natural disasters differently to men. For example, in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, it was reported that in the worst-hit area of Aceh (in north-west Indonesia) women were three times more likely to die than men. Awareness of the gendered experiences of insecurity enriches our understanding of these issues, but also strengthens our capacity to meaningfully address them. Third, feminist security studies has been innovative in its use of diverse research methods and approaches to understand both the hidden and root causes of gender-based insecurity. This challenges scholars to consider whose security interests are served by mainstream theorising, whose are neglected and under what circumstances women’s security is undermined by current practices. For instance, Katharine Moon’s 1997 book Sex Among Allies shows that the one million South Korean women who worked in the military prostitution industry that supported the US military presence in South Korea between 1950 and 1971 were rendered both insecure and silent. Their insecurity was the price of the US– South Korea strategic relationship that was the cornerstone of the region’s security program. While research into the underlying causes and politics of women’s insecurity has generated debate between different feminist approaches, it has led to the increasing sophistication of feminist methodologies in security studies and the diversification of data collection and analysis, within both positivist and post-positivist traditions. For example, Valerie Hudson and others in Sex and World Peace (2012) have used quantitative methods to explore the relationship between gender equality and state security. This research deploys indicators such as women’s experiences of violence, equality under the law, maternal mortality and others, to

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measure women’s equality in each state. It finds that the greater the gender equality gap in a state, the more likely that state is to be involved in internal or external conflict. Moreover, it finds that those states with higher rates of gender inequality are inclined to use higher levels of violence in conflict, and to be the first to resort to conflict in times of crisis. Elsewhere, critical feminist discourse analysis has been used to highlight and challenge the way that traditional approaches privilege certain masculine identities and ways of knowing. In her classic 1987 article, ‘Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals’, Carol Cohn highlights and analyses the gendered language and logics that legitimated the nuclear arms race. In her deconstruction of the techno-strategic discourse that dominates the so-called ‘rational’ approach to nuclear strategy, she argued that the language used by intellectuals was reliant upon a commitment to hegemonic masculinity (by drawing on metaphors of masculine power) in a way that abstracted them from the human costs of nuclear war. The metaphors used in the dominant discourse equated nuclear stockpiling with masculine strength, and disarmament with emasculation. In this way, feminist scholars have evidenced how gendered relationships of power shape individuals, discourse, institutions and policy. The final area of innovation for feminist security studies is its efforts to address women’s insecurity. Again, the question of how we ensure gender equality and women’s security is the subject of widespread debate between feminist approaches. Liberal feminists focus upon increasing women’s participation and representation in sites where women are largely absent, particularly in elite decision-making roles. For critical feminists, the focus might be upon deconstructing the gendered language, institutions and logics that facilitated women’s exclusion from decision-making institutions. These differences can be demonstrated in debates regarding the decision of several liberal democratic states to lift the combat ban for women in their militaries: Australia lifted its combat ban for women in 2013, as did the US, with the UK following in 2016. For liberal feminists, the focus has been upon ensuring women’s equal rights, and demonstrating how the exclusion of women from combat roles constituted and entrenched a barrier for women’s promotion in the


Katrina Lee-Koo

military. For critical feminists, the concern has been on demonstrating the reliance militaries have had upon masculine cultures and logics— including violence and exclusion, and the need for this to change.

Impact Feminist interventions have broadened and deepened the disciplinary study of security. It has broadened it in terms of the issues and actors that are now addressed as part of its agenda. The application of gender lenses not only challenges our understanding of security politics in traditional sectors such as conflict and state behaviour, but it also encourages engagement with the gender politics of ‘new’ or ‘nontraditional’ security issues. Furthermore, feminist interventions have deepened security studies by challenging fundamental concepts and knowledge claims within the field. Feminists have revealed the reliance of security studies on masculinised ways of knowing, which appeal to violence, aggression and non-collaborative behaviour. They have sought to show, instead, the opportunities presented by different approaches to achieving security. This is demonstrated across the global security agenda, but it is perhaps particularly clear in the proliferation of research on the causes, consequences and responses to armed conflict, one of the key concerns of security studies. Feminists have heavily influenced conflict analysis in ways that have had a significant impact upon security policies around the world. As one example, extensive attention has been drawn to the use of gender-based violence against civilians in the so-called new wars of the twenty-first century. Gender-based violence, including sexual violence, has long been a feature of armed conflict; Thucydides documented the massacre of men and the enslavement of women after the Melian surrender to Athens in the fifth century BC. More recently, allied forces took extensive testimonies and gathered evidence of the so-called ‘comfort women’ system established by the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Second World War. However, it was only after the intervention of feminist theorising that such episodes were reconceptualised as war crimes, rather than simply the spoils of war.

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As a result of feminist interventions and activism, it is now the case that gender-based violence against civilians in armed conflict can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity and an act of genocide under international law. The International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda (1994, ongoing) and the former Yugoslavia (1993–2017) saw the first international prosecutions for wartime sexual violence. This significant development was in part a result of the work of feminist scholars, who detailed the extent of gender-based violence in conflict and its use as a deliberate and organised strategy and weapon of war. The work to protect women from wartime sexual violence and end impunity is continued by agencies across the UN system and supported by feminist researchers. Similarly, feminist analysis has demonstrated the importance of women’s participation in achieving lasting peace and security following conflict. Overwhelmingly, women are excluded from high-level or elite peace processes. According to UN statistics, between 2000 and 2017 women constituted only 2% of peace mediators, 8% of peace negotiators and 5% of witnesses and signatories in all major peace agreements: high-level security concerns are dominated by masculine identities and agendas. Feminist scholars researching in this field are demonstrating the positive impact that women’s involvement in peace processes can have. For many feminists, this is primarily driven by an argument for gender equality and women’s rights to participate in the sites and sectors where decisions affecting them are made. However, there is also a strong instrumentalist argument to be made that women’s inclusion in peace processes strengthens the likelihood of durable peace. For instance, research conducted by O’Reilly et al. found that women’s meaningful participation in peace processes increases the likelihood of a peace agreement lasting at least two years by 20% and lasting 15 years by 35%. This research makes gender equality central to achieving global security, and shows the links between women’s security and global security. Ensuring security is maintained after conflict is an important concern for security studies. Here, feminist scholars have pried open the issue of UN peacekeeping to consider women’s roles in peacekeeping operations as both civilians and deployed personnel. In the first instance, high rates of sexual exploitation and abuse have been revealed. Research


Katrina Lee-Koo

has revealed the dynamic and complex gendered politics that attend peacekeeping, and the ways that this manifests during peacekeeping operations. For example, the UN reported that between April and June 2018, it had received 70 verified accounts of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers on deployment. Connected to this is the absence of women from military and police peacekeeper ranks. The UN reports that women constitute less than 1% of uniformed peacekeepers. Efforts to increase this have been based upon the UN’s own evidence that female peacekeepers have the capacity to uniquely shape conflictaffected communities, through their ability to build trust with local communities (particularly women and children), to present as role models and to defuse community tensions. This research challenges the masculine dominance of peacekeeping, highlighting its negative security consequences. It also promotes the positive impact of gender equality on women’s security and global security outcomes. Feminist approaches to security studies have gained great traction in the past three decades. They have shaped the way we think about major security issues, deepened our understanding of the impact upon different groups of people, and informed policy responses and programs of change. Feminist contributions have done this firstly by challenging the discipline of security studies to think beyond its previous focus on states to include identities and issues that connect our sense of security with global politics more broadly. Secondly, its contribution to pluralising the methodological approaches to understanding security has invited different ways of knowing, practising and responding to security and security challenges in global politics (Fig. 7.1).

7 Feminist Interventions in Security Studies


Fig. 7.1 Chinese women peacekeepers in Mali (Source MINUSMA Photo/Marco Dormino)

Key Readings Cohn, Carol. 1987. ‘Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals’. Signs 12(4): 687–718. Hudson, Valerie. 2012. ‘What Sex Means for World Peace’. Foreign Policy, 24 April. Shepherd, Laura J. 2016. ‘Feminist Security Studies’. In Handbook on Gender and World Politics, edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe-Belfrage, 263–70. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Sjoberg, Laura, ed. 2010. Gender and International Security: Feminist Perspectives. New York: Routledge. Wibben, Annick. 2011. Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach. London: Routledge.

Part IV History

8 Reconceiving the Nation Kate Laing

Abstract Before the 1970s, there was meagre interest in understanding the productive efforts of women in the national story. Historians tended to assume that the work of defining, ruling and defending the nation had been done mostly by men so that it was unlikely that women, generally excluded from the public realm, would have exercised much influence. Feminist historians have challenged the traditional claim that men of power and influence have been the key drivers of social and political change. Their insights have led to the expanding fields of transnational and international feminist history that have further highlighted the limits and historically contingent nature of ideas about national identity, democratic citizenship and the nation-state. Keywords Australian history · Women · National story · Feminism

Kate Laing (B) University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Kate Laing

The Issue: The Absence of Women in National Narratives In the histories of nation-states it has often been assumed that nation-building is a masculine activity. In the early decades of Australian nationhood, for example, it seemed that only men creatively used the power of the state to build an emerging nation. Dominating public life as the politicians, leaders, workers, businessmen and, especially, historians, who chronicled the nation, men were placed as central figures in the forging of a national identity. In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the radical national tradition of Australian history redefined the discipline to highlight the importance of local traditions rather than the British imperial framework. Yet these histories were still predominantly written by white men and remained a white man’s story. This male standpoint was universalised, disguising men’s interests and making the distinctive experiences of men absolute, while women were cast as the ‘other’. Before the 1970s, there was meagre interest in understanding the productive efforts of women in the national story. Historians tended to assume that the work of defining, ruling and defending the nation had been done mostly by men so that it was unlikely that women, generally excluded from the public realm, would have exercised much influence. When women were included in Australian national histories—in bicentennial publications in 1988 for example—the connection between gendered and national identities went unexamined, and questions about the interrelatedness of gender with other issues such as race, nationalism, war and the state were left unanswered. The ‘nation’ continued to be framed within a familiar gender-neutral paradigm. Since then, interventions by feminist historians have transformed our understanding of nationalism, democracy and national identity. They have located and broadened the scope of sources, they have worked collaboratively, and have used transnational and international approaches to move beyond ‘adding’ previously overlooked women to known narratives. They reframed the way national histories were written to acknowledge and interrogate gender dynamics and the relationships between men and women.

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Feminist Interventions Women wrote about their lives in historical ways before the 1970s in Australia, but little of this work was recognised by the gatekeepers of the historical profession. The first explicit feminist interventions into national history that challenged entrenched orthodoxies in university departments came out of the women’s liberation movement. Women were entering the profession in greater numbers and their work was explicitly political, drawing on arguments and ideas from protest movements. As a postgraduate student, Ann Curthoys published an article ‘Historiography and Women’s Liberation’ in the journal Arena in 1970 that called for a complete transformation of traditional history, noting that a new history of women ‘should do more than restore women to the pages of history books. It must analyse why public life has been considered to be the focus of history and why public life has been so thoroughly occupied by men’. In the mid 1970s, a number of books were published that aimed to challenge the absence of women in Australian history. Edna Ryan and Anne Conlon published Gentle Invaders: Australian Women at Work (1975) which drew on labour history frameworks to document the struggles for equal pay and Beverley Kingston published My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann (1975), which provided a comprehensive study of women and work in Australia. Highly influential were Anne Summers’ Damned Whores and God’s Police (1975) and Miriam Dixson’s The Real Matilda (1976). Both were nationally focussed, asserting that Australia had a uniquely misogynist culture that contributed to the under-representation of women in places of power. Women in these national histories were victims of oppression by the nation, Dixson describing them as ‘doormats of the western world’. In line with their progressive legislative agenda, and with the spur of International Women’s Year in 1975, the Whitlam Labor government provided funding into research on women in national history. Kay Daniels, a senior lecturer at the University of Tasmania received a grant to publish a guide to relevant archival collections, called Women in Australia: An Annotated Guide to Records. This two-volume publication showed that contrary to previous assumptions that there were no sources on women,


Kate Laing

libraries around the country in fact held voluminous amounts of primary source material for scholars to work from. Subsequently, in the late 1970s and 1980s, women’s studies programs were introduced in history departments across the country and women and labour conferences encouraged more interest in understanding women’s place in Australian history. Many courses on ‘gender relations’ were created at the insistence of students who were eager to learn about different perspectives. Scholars and historians published widely on women in history. Jill Matthews’ Good and Mad Women (1984) extended the theoretical analysis of gender in history by emphasising feminist history’s concern with power relations. She, along with Kay Daniels, articulated a distinction between women’s history and feminist history, where women’s history merely added women to the accepted narratives without questioning established conceptual frameworks, feminist history challenged assumptions about priorities and made sure women were not marginal figures within it but could occupy a central, and therefore appropriate, place. Much of the new scholarship was also influenced by international scholarship. The seminal essay by US historian Joan Scott titled ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis’ (1986) helped the historical profession worldwide to think about how gender would work as a conceptual category of analysis. Gender shaped power, argued Scott, just as power shaped gender. Clearly it was necessary to study masculinity as well as femininity. This was also the argument made by Marilyn Lake, in 1986, in an influential article on masculinity and national identity in which she suggested that it was ‘time that gender became a central category of all historical analyses’ because then we could see how central gender was to definitions of national culture. National identity was imbued with masculinist politics. In 1992, Lake published another article, titled Mission Impossible: How Men Gave Birth to the Australian Nation that showed how feminists utilised the masculine discourse of citizenship and the model of military citizenship to argue for basic rights for mothers. Post-federation, and especially post-war, Australia entered a phase of ‘self-conscious nation-building’ that privileged a military model of citizenship, whereby the ‘citizen soldier’ was praised and paid for fulfilling obligations to the state and rewarded with rights to state

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benefits. At the same time, anxieties around a declining birth rate and the desire for a White Australia made public policy receptive to maternalist discourse. Feminists argued that through motherhood, women were performing a comparable duty to the state and they asserted that childbirth was just as dangerous as soldiering and just as important to the nation. To counter claims that men had ‘given birth to the nation’ at Gallipoli, feminists reminded Australians that in fact it was women who gave birth to the nation and they demanded recognition and remuneration for their labour. As Lake showed, the maternalist feminists were not entirely successful in convincing policymakers of their arguments. Their demands for motherhood endowment that called for an independent motherhood where women would no longer be economically dependent on husbands was a bridge too far. Maternalist feminists, however, gained significant traction with their arguments and were proud of their contribution to achievements that included suffrage, old age and invalid pensions, the maternity allowance, a network of free clinics for mothers and children staffed by women, state boarding-out schemes, mothers’ pensions for widowed and deserted mothers and women’s hospitals. Far from being absent from nation-building, political women articulated their centrality to the nation and state. Historians’ omission of their vital contribution from the national story was a product of their blindness, of their failure to look for it. Creating a Nation, by Patricia Grimshaw, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath and Marian Quartly, published in 1994, was a path-breaking reconception of the national story from a feminist perspective. The ambition of the work was to document the different ways in which women were involved in the building of the nation, focussing very clearly on their agency and consequently on their shared responsibility. It also allocated a fundamental role to Indigenous Australians—especially women—in the national story, opening with a chapter by Ann McGrath that established Aboriginal women’s birth giving ‘on country’—the term used by Indigenous Australians to describe traditional associations with particular lands—as central to the narrative. This was the first national history to interrogate the intersections between race, class and gender in our history.


Kate Laing

When white Australian women won the right to vote and to stand in elections in national parliament in 1902, they were still effectively barred from electoral success by the male-dominated party system. Grimshaw, Lake, McGrath and Quartly explained how a popular response within the women’s movement was to follow the ‘non-party’ ideal, creating organisations outside the party system. And rather than focus on individual political success, women’s rights advocates believed in the importance of the newly won vote in providing leverage for social reform. Creating a Nation encouraged a rethink of women’s political history by examining gender (and race) relations more broadly and rethinking women’s activism and how it had shaped the nation. The book was met with considerable hostility from some male historians, notably John Hirst, who believed it was ‘impossible to write an intelligible history of the nation and sustain this feminist claim for female influence’. Lake was unsurprised by the attack, expecting traditional historians to feel threatened by feminists encroaching on their territory, noting: ‘the cry used to be that women were taking men’s jobs; now we are stealing their history’. In reflecting on the reaction to Creating a Nation, feminist historians were further able to expose the masculine paradigm of national history, identifying how men act as agents of masculinity to construct and sustain cultural, social and political institutions and how this went unrecognised. Joy Damousi noted in a review of the book that there is no ‘neutral place’ to which historians can retreat and insist that there is no gender at play. It is, she wrote, ‘an illusion to think that we can separate the complexity of these intersecting power dynamics; such an omission replicates power structures and denies the historical complexity of how they evolved in an interrelated way’. As feminist scholarship continued to expand and reveal further complexity in our understanding of women and history, analysis demonstrated that women were not simply oppressed by and alienated from the nation-building project, as earlier works suggested, but central to it. This was also a point made by Indigenous women such as Pat O’Shane, Jackie Huggins and later Aileen Moreton-Robinson, who challenged feminists to consider Aboriginal women’s perspectives. Moreton-Robinson’s work Talkin’ Up to the White Woman (2000) made a key theoretical intervention as she named ‘whiteness’ and

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challenged white women’s privilege and power. These works joined other critical works in encouraging the historical profession to emphasise that Aboriginal dispossession was at the heart of Australian history. The relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians has subsequently become a major focus of much historical scholarship. Women’s history is increasingly embedded in a post-colonial framework.

Impact Feminist interventions into national history have exposed the masculine standpoint that masqueraded as neutrality or objectivity, and examined the connections between gendered and nationalist identities. Women’s history has pushed the traditional boundaries and transformed the subjects of national history beyond the masculine tropes of politics and war. This work by feminist historians has had a formative impact on the historical discipline, leading scholars to interrogate the claims of the nation—what it means, how it is shaped and by whom it is recorded—as well as making gender, race and class key areas of analysis, and interdisciplinary method and theory a key approach. They have led by example in collaborative work and encouraged intersectionality within the discipline. Many research projects have been published that provide access to resources and information for scholars and the wider community, such as Barbara Caine’s Australian Feminism: A Companion (1998), The Australian Women’s Register 1 online resource, part of the Australian Women’s Archives Project, and more recently Judith Smart and Shurlee Swain’s online directory, Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia (2013).2 Feminist history networks created during the 1980s and 1990s, such as the Australian Women’s History Network (AWHN) and the Melbourne and Sydney Feminist History groups, supported and encouraged the development of women’s and gender history. These spaces brought together scholars working across institutions, who also invited international guests to speak at their meetings and encouraged the publication of feminist history at the international level. The establishment of such networks was one response to the need for


Kate Laing

wider support for feminist scholars, especially younger ones, who often felt isolated within their institutions and they helped to sustain the enthusiasm for feminist history for decades. Women’s history also benefitted from strong international feminist networks established from the 1990s. For example, the AWHN was an inaugural member of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History (IFRWH), with New Zealand-born Patricia Grimshaw elected president in 1995. She hosted an international conference in Melbourne in 1998 that focussed on human rights, resulting in the international publication Women’s Rights and Human Rights (2001). These networks encouraged scholars to consider the international dimension of women’s political networks. In critiquing national historiographies, transnational and international histories have further challenged and enriched understandings of national history. Most importantly, feminist interventions in our understandings of the nation have revealed the limitations of using a gender-neutral conception of ‘nation’ as the primary frame of analysis. Feminist historians have challenged the traditional claim that men of power and influence have been the key drivers of change in history by showing the myriad ways in which women of all backgrounds have been agents of social and political change at all levels of community. The insights of transnational and international feminist history have further highlighted the limits and historically contingent nature of ideas about national identity, democratic citizenship and the nation-state. Recently women have become far more visible in national politics as elected government officials. The election of the first Australian female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was a tangible expression of the ongoing participation of women in politics and political activism that feminist historians had revealed. However, the response to her leadership from the Opposition, from her predecessor and from parts of the media show there is still strong masculine resistance to the concept of women playing a pivotal role in leading the nation (Fig. 8.1).

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Fig. 8.1 Mother and child consult the doctor at the new baby clinic, New Farm, 1918 (Source John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, accession no. D113-91)

Notes 1. 2.


Kate Laing

Key Readings Damousi, Joy. 1999. ‘Writing Gender into History and History in Gender: Creating a Nation and Australian Historiography’. Gender and History 11(3): 612–24. Grimshaw, Patricia. 2017. ‘Transnationalism and the Writing of Australian Women’s History’. In Transnationalism, Nationalism and Australian History, edited by Anna Clark, Anne Rees and Alecia Simmonds. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. Grimshaw, Patricia, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath and Marian Quartly. 1994. Creating a Nation. Melbourne: McPhee Gribble. Lake, Marilyn. 1992. ‘Mission Impossible: How Men Gave Birth to the Australian Nation—Nationalism, Gender and Other Seminal Acts’. Gender & History 4(3): 305–22. Lake, Marilyn. 2013. ‘Women’s and Gender History in Australia: A Transformative Practice’. Journal of Women’s History 25(4): 190–211.

9 Gendered Perspectives on War and Nationhood: The Prism of Anzac Carolyn Holbrook

Abstract The Anzac legend, which commemorates the participation of Australian forces in the Great War, is the most popular and pervasive symbol of Australian nationhood. Like many national mythologies, it privileges masculine experience. Originally grounded in the fighting ability of Australian soldiers, it has shifted over time to emphasise sacrifice, suffering and mateship. The innovative gendered perspectives that began to emerge in the 1980s have expanded understanding of the Great War beyond the battlefield, to reveal the roles that women played in war time, their experiences of grief and loss and the burdens they bore in the aftermath of the conflict. By enabling a more comprehensive understanding of the Great War, feminist historians have challenged traditional tropes of male heroism and martial baptism. Keywords Anzac legend · Great War · Feminist history · Nationalism Carolyn Holbrook (B) Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Carolyn Holbrook

The Issue: Revealing the Constructed Nature of National Identities Until the 1960s, Australians’ understanding of the Great War was dominated by the work of the official historian, Charles Bean. Bean had undergone a personal epiphany that began in the years before the Great War, shedding his ardent British-centred imperialism in favour of an imperial loyalty that increasingly emphasised and celebrated Australian distinctiveness. Bean’s twelve-volume Official History of Australia in the War of 1914 –1918 (published between 1920 and 1942) was a textual monument to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and a Book of Genesis for the young Australian nation. He represented the Great War as a test of Australian manhood and Australian nationhood; a test that both passed with flying colours. The war allowed (male) Australians to display to the world their distinctive national characteristics of mateship, resourcefulness, courage, stoicism and egalitarianism. They were slack with discipline on the parade ground, but not where it counted, on the battlefield. They were possessed of a distinctive, larrikin humour. Their deeds, according to Bean and seconded by the popular majority, had given birth to ‘the consciousness of Australian nationhood’. They spawned a mythology named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in which the Australians fought—the Anzac legend. The values that are represented by the Anzac legend have changed over time; there is less emphasis nowadays on the military prowess of the soldiers and more focus on their suffering. The imperial nature of Anzac commemoration has been discarded, though the valorisation of mateship and egalitarianism remain, together with the conceit that the Australian nation was born by the blood sacrifice of its young men. The conflation of military endeavour with national identity has drawn criticism of varying intensity over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries; not least from feminist historians. The innovative gendered perspectives that began to emerge in the 1980s have sought to expand our understanding of the Great War beyond the battlefield experience, and simultaneously to challenge the dominance of the Anzac legend in the national iconography.

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Academic historians were slow to turn their minds to the Anzac legend in the decades after the war. When they did, they were primed to interrogate issues of class rather than gender. Bean’s thesis of martial baptism mirrored the popular mood, but it was of little interest to the coterie of university historians in interwar Australia, whose principal concerns lay with political and economic history. Ernest Scott incorporated the Anzac story into a wider tale of imperial triumph, but Keith Hancock’s acclaimed essay Australia, published in 1930, barely mentioned the conflict. Even after the great expansion of Australian universities following the Second World War, academic historians showed little inclination to study the Great War. Recalling the academic preoccupations of the 1940s and 1950s, Ken Inglis wrote: ‘It was as if the spirit of Scott, conservative and imperial, had been exorcised in order to make a climate more congenial to liberal, left-wing radicalism’. Radical nationalist historians, such as Russel Ward and Ian Turner were not entirely silent. With their eyes squarely on workingclass men, they characterised the war as the wrecking ball of earlier social reforms. But when they wrote about the men of the First AIF, the radicals offered up the same masculinist and platitudinous paeons as their liberal and conservative peers. Writing in 1974, Turner believed the Anzacs ‘had come to know their own manhood and that of their fellows … A man was judged by his performance, not by his birth, and by how he stood with his mates’. Bill Gammage’s The Broken Years (1974) presaged a new form of war historiography, with its poignant representation of the personal experience of front-line soldiers, reconstructed from their letters and diaries. If Gammage was admiring of the Anzacs, Lloyd Robson was more critical. He consulted the extensive enlistment records of the First AIF to counter Bean’s assumption that most soldiers came from rural backgrounds. Alistair Thomson used interviews with veterans of the Great War in his seminal book Anzac Memories (1994) to show how survivors’ remembrance of the war was shaped by their shifting psychological circumstances. Following the lead of Robson and Thomson, Australian historians increasingly turned their attention to the ‘construction’ of the Anzac legend. This project was premised upon the iconoclastic assumption that


Carolyn Holbrook

the legend did not emerge organically from the deeds of the soldiers, but was created for political purposes. The gendered perspectives that began to emerge in the 1980s, following feminist historian Miriam Dixson’s 1975 landmark book, The Real Matilda, have contributed to the deconstruction of the Anzac legend. They have demonstrated that the history of Australian experience of the Great War was more complex than orthodox representations suggested; that women were affected as well as men; and that the progressive pre-1914 nation was never the same again.

Feminist Interventions The internationally discernible ‘cultural turn’ in historiography during the 1990s was particularly pronounced in the writing of war history, where it opened new fields of research about memory, trauma, grief, loss and mourning. Feminist historians were prominent in this work. In the Australian context, Joy Damousi’s The Labour of Loss (1999) studied the relationship between publicly displayed and sanctioned grief, and that of the private grief revealed through letters and diaries. Damousi showed how war widows and bereaved mothers sought to manage their private grief, while simultaneously being dispatched to the periphery of the masculinist, Anzac-centred public grieving rituals of the post-war years. Tanja Luckins, Marina Larsson and Jen Hawksley (Roberts) all wrote about the ‘disenfranchised grief ’ of families whose soldier relatives died after the war. Marina Larsson created a new understanding of the role of families in supporting the men who returned, broken and battered, from the war. Her book Shattered Anzacs, published in 2009, showed how families bore the burdens of caring for men labouring under disabilities including amputation, shell shock and chronic tuberculosis. In addition to carving out a space in the historical record for women, Larsson’s book presented a powerful counter to the able-bodied and athletic Anzac of conventional iconography. If Larsson sought to tell the story of a lesser-known aspect of Australian war history in the hope of adding nuance to the officially received version of the Anzac legend, Marilyn Lake and her colleagues

9 Gendered Perspectives on War and Nationhood …


resolved to challenge Anzac head-on in their 2010 polemic, What’s Wrong with Anzac? Together with Henry Reynolds, Joy Damousi, Mark McKenna and Carina Donaldson, Lake argued that Australian history since the 1990s had been dominated by a militaristic view of the national past. The authors lamented the demise of the war protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s and documented the increasing official patronage of war history, through the provision of funding to the Australian War Memorial and the production of educational resources for school children. They argued that the zealotry surrounding Anzac commemoration made it difficult for critics to speak out against contemporary military campaigns, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, lest they be considered traitors to the Anzac legend. While Lake and her colleagues tended to conflate the increasing appetite for sentimentalised war memory with the militarisation of Australian history, Christina Twomey identified the distinction in an acute article published in 2013: ‘Australians will better understand the current embrace of Anzac if we stop confusing it with a love of militarism. Anzac is a mythology with its origins in the exploits of men at war, but there is little talk today of weakling enemies and soldiers as exemplars of military manhood’, she wrote in The Conversation. Twomey observed how the rise of feminist protesters, such as Women Against Rape in War, turned attention towards the suffering and trauma caused by war; an awareness that was quickly transposed from women to the soldiers themselves. The soldier had begun his transformation from warrior to victim, and the tropes of suffering, trauma and grief rise to dominance. I noted the same predilection to fit war experience into a psychological template in a survey of the history of Great War memory since 1915, Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography. I showed how differing ideologies such as imperialism, nationalism, militarism and feminism have affected how Australians remember the Great War. I also described how various groups have been the holders and propagators of Great War memory over the decades, from the soldiers themselves, to family historians and, since the 1990s, politicians. By documenting how our memory of the Great War has been shaped by changing societal values, I continued the feminist project of revealing that the Anzac legend is itself a product of social construction.


Carolyn Holbrook

That Joan Beaumont’s history of Australians in the Great War, Broken Nation, winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History in 2014, incorporated both the experience of the battlefield and events on the home-front, best demonstrates the enduring effect of gendered perspectives on the Great War; a comprehensive history of the war can no longer be written without due attention to its impact upon the women, men and children who remained at home. It can no longer be told without an awareness of the sorrow and trauma the war unleashed on subsequent generations and the developing rituals of grieving and commemoration that would prove so powerful and enduring.

Impact The introduction of innovative gendered perspectives on the Anzac legend has produced a much sharper analytic lens through which to view Australian experiences of the Great War. Most significantly, the feminist interpretations pioneered by scholars such as Marilyn Lake, Joy Damousi and Marina Larsson have helped to extend Anzac historiography beyond the experience of men in battle and the traditional trope of the birth of the nation. Gendered perspectives have revealed the roles that women played in war time, the experiences of grief and loss, and the burdens borne by mothers, wives and sisters in caring for returned soldiers and holding together families as they dealt with the aftermath of war. This new historiography has shown how the Anzac legend has changed over time from a myth grounded in the fighting ability of the Australian soldiers to one that honours sacrifice and mateship. Given the central place that the Anzac legend occupies in conceptions of Australian nationhood, the introduction of gendered perspectives has significance far beyond the academy. By expanding the cast of historical characters in Great War history to include women, and simultaneously demonstrating that the Anzac legend is not an immutable entity, these new perspectives have sought to challenge celebratory and nationalist representations. And yet, traditional, male-centred versions of the history of war have proved remarkably adaptable and resilient, in Australia and elsewhere. In line with international trends, Australian commemoration

9 Gendered Perspectives on War and Nationhood …


Fig. 9.1 Lae, New Guinea, 1945. AWAS personnel disembarking from the MV Duntroon, about to leave a landing barge at Milford Haven. They are part of a group of 342 AWAS from Australia en route to the AWAS barracks at Butibum Road (Source Australian War Memorial, accession no 091461)

of the Great War has incorporated the perspectives of women in the past two decades. More recently, it has begun absorbing within its porous borders the experience of Aboriginal Australians, and those from nonAnglo backgrounds. As Twomey observed, however, revelations about the trauma and suffering caused by the war have not dinted the rise and rise of the Anzac legend, but rather given it an acceptable contemporary face. The Australian example of war historiography is evidence of the adaptability of established power structures, and the need for unending vigilance (Fig. 9.1).


Carolyn Holbrook

Key Readings Beaumont, Joan. 2013. Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Damousi, Joy. 2009. The Labour of Loss: Mourning, Memory and Wartime Bereavement in Australia. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. Holbrook, Carolyn. 2014. Anzac: The Unauthorised Biography. Sydney: NewSouth. Lake, Marilyn, Henry Reynolds, Joy Damousi and Mark McKenna. 2010. What’s Wrong with Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History. Sydney: NewSouth. Larsson, Marina. 2009. Shattered Anzacs: Living with the Scars of War. Sydney: NewSouth. Twomey, Christina. 2013. ‘Trauma and the Revitalisation of Anzac: An Argument’. History Australia 10(3): 85–105.

10 Women in Economic History Catherine Bishop

Abstract There is a common understanding in much of the Western world that, before the advent of second-wave feminism in the late twentieth century, women were restricted to a ‘private’ sphere of home and family, and the ‘public’ sphere of politics, economics, business, war, education and culture was predominantly the domain of men. Feminist historians hoping to chart the move by women from the private to the public sphere have, however, complicated any clear binary between the public and private spheres, redefining concepts such as ‘work’ and ‘politics’ in the process. Recent feminist work in economic history shows that women have always had many roles in the ‘public’ sphere, particularly in the world of commerce. Keywords Women · Business · Economic history · Feminist history · Separate spheres Catherine Bishop (B) Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Catherine Bishop

The Issue: Reconceptualising Women’s Place in the Public Sphere There is a common understanding throughout much of the rest of the Western world that, before the advent of second-wave feminism in the late twentieth century, women were restricted to a ‘private’ sphere of home and family. Moreover, this restriction to the private sphere was held to be traditional—women’s place had always been in the home. The ‘public’ sphere, the broader world outside the home that included politics, economics, business, war, education and culture, was, on the other hand, predominantly the domain of men—and the topic of most historical work. Women were, therefore, often ignored by history. Fast forward to now and women are full participants in the public sphere—they too have the vote, stand for parliament and rule. They go to university, fight in wars and control their own money. They are business executives, professionals, politicians and bankers. They are still paid less than men, are less well-represented on company boards, suffer sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and are consistently reminded that their presence in the public sphere is a novelty. But they are there. Feminist historians hoping to chart this move by women from the private to the public sphere have, however, complicated any clear binary between the public and private spheres. In the process they have redefined concepts such as ‘work’ and ‘politics’, revealing their gendered constructions and providing more inclusive histories. This reconceptualisation of women’s place in the public sphere is very clear in feminist work in economic history. Feminist historians have played a large part in putting women’s stories into Australian history more generally, but also in telling the story of the ways in which women were once excluded from parts of the public sphere and how they won the roles they fill today. The use of gender as a category of analysis has forced a recognition that ‘male’ does not equate to ‘normal’, that men’s experiences are gendered just as much as women’s and that the structures that have shaped the public sphere have been structures of power based on class, race and gender. This discussion of women in the economy focuses on the record drawn from the rewriting of Australian history,

10 Women in Economic History


which has been a vibrant site of feminist innovation and contestation, transforming the discipline thoroughly over the last 50 years.

Feminist Interventions Australian feminist historians in the 1970s worked on two tasks. The first was, in the word coined by Gerda Lerner, contributionist —to put women into history. Historians such as Miriam Dixson, Beverley Kingston and Anne Summers found a place for women in a national history which had for a long time focused primarily on male lawmakers, warriors and merchants, pioneers, farmers and landowners—on politics, wars and an economy built on wool and mining. The second was structural — to explain why women are still fighting for adequate childcare, equal pay and shared responsibility for household duties; why women are less likely to apply for a promotion, less likely to ‘grow’ their businesses and more likely to attract vitriol when they reach positions of power. Feminist historians encouraged us to consider the gendered nature of female experience—that women’s histories were different from men’s— but equally valuable. Putting women into an Australian history that focused so much on the public sphere was difficult: there were few women who had broken through barriers to ‘succeed’ in the male-dominated and defined public arena. Instead, historians in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Ann Curthoys, Patricia Grimshaw and Marilyn Lake, redefined what history should be about, emphasising the importance of women’s role in the domestic sphere. They highlighted the ways in which managing households, rearing children and creating social and cultural networks were as significant to the development of Australia as debating in parliament, shooting perceived enemies and exporting wool. To ‘the standard feminist riposte’ of insisting that ‘we were there too’, Marilyn Lake countered in 1996, that ‘given half a chance, women in the past would retort, “No, we were somewhere else” – we were in our families, in our bodies, in our self-sacrifice, in our emotions, in our communities, in our women’s friendships, in our relationships with the country and with people’.


Catherine Bishop

Historians documented women’s early forays into the public sphere in charitable and church work, particularly around issues concerned with women and children in the late nineteenth century. Temperance became a popular cause among women and was a stepping-stone to the campaign for female suffrage. Importantly, early first-wave feminists exploited the idea of ‘separate spheres’ and the differences between men and women, emphasising the importance of women’s roles as wives and mothers. They suggested that their special maternal qualities would be of benefit in the public realm, particularly as the state assumed new responsibilities in areas such as education and public health. Feminist historians looking at this period sought to explain enduring inequalities by exploring the legal, social, cultural and economic discrimination faced by women. For example, within economic history—a field notorious for its abundant gendered assumptions and paucity of gendered analysis—they pointed out how women were barred either by law or lack of education or custom from many occupations, including the professions, other than teaching. They highlighted how women escaped the 24-hour drudgery of domestic service—the primary occupation available to them in the nineteenth century—by flocking to employment in the emerging factories, clerical work and department stores of the late nineteenth century. The feminist rewriting of Australian economic history, by historians such as Katrina Alford and Marilyn Lake, had been essentially a story of progress, of inch-by-inch gains in economic equality with men. Recently, however, as part of a worldwide trend, feminist historians have begun questioning this teleological history of women’s participation in the public sphere. There has been a reconsideration of more conservative twentieth-century women’s groups and the influence they wielded and also a new interest in female missionaries and other groups of women who are perhaps less appealing as radical feminist heroines. Women’s activities in the interwar decades and in the 1950s, when the mythology of suburban domestic bliss was at its height, have been reconsidered. This work reveals that women have been present and active in the public sphere, albeit in different ways and facing distinct barriers, to a greater extent than previously understood.

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In addition, following in the footsteps of British historian Amanda Vickery, historians are now questioning the very notion of separate spheres in the nineteenth-century context. Private and public worlds were less discrete and more intertwined than we imagined. The digital archive has made women’s activities in the public sphere more visible. Through being able to search newspapers and connect lives across time and space, historians are now finding that women have been in the public sphere all along—that women’s place was not necessarily only in the home. In the nineteenth century, for example, in spite of legal, economic and (for those further up the social scale) social and cultural restrictions, women participated in the economy as more than employees. Women ran businesses, working alongside husbands, fathers, sons and daughters in workshops and retail outlets and hotels and boarding houses that were also kitchens and living rooms and homes. Domestic spaces were also work spaces. If you were to stroll down Pitt Street, one of Sydney’s premier streets, in 1858 you would have passed 400 properties. Sand’s Directory, a listing of Sydney residents and their occupations, street by street and house by house, lists a handful of women’s names. But a careful examination of other sources—newspaper advertisements, bank ledgers and insolvency records for example—reveal more than a hundred individual women who were Pitt Street property owners, tenants and businesswomen. Women were active participants in the commercial life of colonial Sydney. But this is not only true of Sydney. Throughout the Australian colonies and across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, women were running similar business in similar ways. Smaller towns were home to women who were dressmakers, boarding house keepers and hoteliers, with the odd butcher, servants’ registry office proprietor and patented sauce inventor thrown in. Female chemists, aerated water manufacturers and even a taxidermist found markets in larger towns. This research parallels recent scholarship on North and South America, Britain, Europe, Asia and Africa. These women had been overlooked by traditional economic history because of the size and nature of their businesses: millinery and corsets were deemed less important than wool and mining. They had also


Catherine Bishop

been downplayed by earlier feminist historians who, on the one hand, emphasised the importance of women’s domestic roles in the domestic sphere and the way in which women’s experiences were different but equally valid, and, on the other hand, were concerned to highlight inherent and gendered structural inequalities that prevented women from participating fully in the public sphere.

Impact The impact of feminist perspectives on economic history has been profound. First, it has encouraged a rethinking of the way we do history. Reading sources against the grain has enriched our perceptions of the past. Understanding that women’s experience is different from men’s experience has created more inclusive histories where women and other marginal groups are no longer excluded from the ‘rich dead white male’ narrative. Second, it has brought recognition of the very real gendered power structures that presented barriers to women’s full participation in all aspects of public life. Third, the latest wave of feminist history has directed our attention to groups of women not normally considered feminist heroines and away from labour history as the study of employer/employee relations. These moves follow in the footsteps of those earlier feminist historians who encouraged us to broaden definitions of economic activity and labour to encompass unpaid work, including domestic housekeeping and the social, cultural and family work often undertaken by women. This latest expansion of perspective has allowed us to recognise the presence of selfemployed women, neither employees nor housewives, who had small, part-time, often hand-to-mouth businesses that might be run from the domestic space of the house as well as larger, more profitable and longlasting enterprises. Bringing the experiences of these women to the fore is significant for women in the public sphere today. It reinforces our understanding that the idea of separate spheres is based on something of a false dichotomy, that public and private worlds are inextricably intertwined. ‘Work/life

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Fig. 10.1 Mrs. McDowall’s Millinery Emporium (also dress and mantle making), Hill End (Source Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, reference 62692)

balance’ is not an entirely new concept and more research is needed into the experiences of both women and men in the meshed worlds of home and work. Feminist perspectives on economic history ensure that we understand that women’s participation in the public sphere is not a new phenomenon but has a long history. Establishing a tradition of women in business helps to legitimise female participation in all spheres of life. Despite the ubiquity of the phrase ‘a woman’s place is in the home’,


Catherine Bishop

the belief that women were once restricted to the private sphere can no longer stand unchallenged—women have always had many roles in the ‘public’ sphere, particularly in the world of commerce (Fig. 10.1).

Key Readings Alford, Katrina. 1984. Production or Reproduction? An Economic History of Women in Australia, 1788–1850. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Aston, Jennifer and Catherine Bishop, eds. 2020. Female Entrepreneurs in the Long Nineteenth Century: A Global Perspective. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Bishop, Catherine. 2015. Minding Her Own Business: Colonial Businesswomen in Sydney. Sydney: NewSouth. Lake, Marilyn. 1996. ‘Feminist History as National History: Writing the Political History of Women’. Australian Historical Studies 27(106): 154–69. Vickery, Amanda. 1993. ‘Golden Age to Separate Spheres? A Review of the Category and Chronology of English Women’s History’. Historical Journal 36(2): 283–414.

Part V Economics

11 New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding as an Economic Indicator Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

Abstract Breastfeeding and human milk provides an archetypical illustration of how feminist economic analysis has contributed new ways of thinking, and approaches to policymaking. Breastfeeding is an example of how the economy is mismeasured: the market value of milk formula production and sales are counted in a nation’s GDP, but the value of breast milk production is not. This is despite the fact that women and children who have not breastfed have higher rates of illness, chronic disease and hospitalisation. The financial costs to the health system and to families of this additional illness and disease are (perversely) counted as increasing GDP. In 2016, a path-breaking study estimated that premature cessation of breastfeeding cost the global economy around $300 billion a year due to diminished human capital. Julie P. Smith (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] Nancy Folbre University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

Keywords National accounts · Satellite accounts · Time-use · Unpaid work · Human milk

The Issue: Measuring the Economy What we measure reflects what we value, and shapes what we do. International systems for measuring the economy have institutionalised the devaluing of women’s unpaid productive and reproductive work, distorting the allocation of resources, and entrenching gender inequality. Following the Bretton Woods meeting of 1944, gross domestic product (GDP) was adopted as the main measure of ‘the economy’. GDP is widely used for intertemporal and cross-country comparisons of economic progress and living standards, and to judge the success or failure of government policy. Since 1953, countries have defined and measured the economy using United Nations guidelines called the System of National Accounts (SNA). Despite purporting to comprehensively and objectively include all economic activity, it has been shown that economics ‘has a serious sex problem’. This is evident in the SNA. Viewing markets, money and machines as central to daily economic life, the SNA definition of the economy strongly reflects male norms, values and priorities. Monetary transactions define its core economic boundary, GDP, which excludes most goods and services produced by households, as well as the value of environmental resources. These are seen as too difficult to measure. GDP does, however, include imputed values for owner-occupied housing, and for illegal prostitution and drug sales. Furthermore, although factories, mines and machines are counted as ‘capital’ in a nation’s balance sheet, human beings are not. Such androcentrism is not surprising; the economics profession is heavily dominated by males. In Australia for example, less than one in three senior economists in key Australian economic agencies is female. Before 2019, only one female had ever won the ‘Nobel Prize’ in economics—and she was a political scientist. Since the early 1970s, there has been growing criticism of the SNA as a system for measuring the economy. Criticism has centred on the narrow definition of economic activity included in GDP. Most attention has been given to how the national accounts failed to record the depletion

11 New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding …


or degradation of environmental resources, while counting the cost of pollution clean-ups as boosting economic growth, however, the problems arising from excluding non-market household production have also been raised. As GDP focuses on measuring the market economy, unpaid production by households, much of which is undertaken by women, is excluded from GDP. In effect, economic activity such as unpaid housework and care has been given a zero economic value since early in the twentieth century. As Maria Durán-Heras has pointed out, the efforts of those who work on producing national accounts are not primarily directed to measuring the economy, but rather to measuring better and better that part of the economy they have agreed to make the object of their attention.

Feminist Interventions Feminist critiques have been important to rethinking how the economy should be measured and how economic progress can be more effectively tracked and compared. In 1988, in Counting for Nothing, feminist scholar and former Member of Parliament, Marilyn Waring denounced the SNA as ‘applied patriarchy’. Her work inspired a sustained and wideranging feminist critique of ‘menstream’ economics, generating data collections, methodological innovations, and empirical analyses which have provided important new knowledge and understanding of nonmarket household production (including its contribution to human capital) and its relation to economic expansion. Feminist economists emphasised the policy implications and impacts of excluding non-market household production from measures of the economy. Crucially, this scholarship identified how non-market household production underpins the market economy.

Defining Economic Activity Waring’s key intellectual contribution was to strip bare the conceptual foundations of the SNA and challenge the view of the economy that underpinned its application to economic measurement. Other feminist


Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

scholarship focused on collection of relevant data, in particular timeuse studies. Nancy Folbre has shown how statisticians discouraged collection of data and measurement of national household production from the late nineteenth century; it ceased altogether when the SNA was institutionalised internationally from 1953. Those occupied in household production came to be classified as ‘economically inactive’ or ‘dependent’.

Estimating the Size of Non-market Household Production Since the 1980s, new data collections and studies have shown the substantial value of non-market household production. The number of hours of household work are about the same as for market work, while the number of hours of childcare is much greater in the household economy. Most of this work is done by women, though unpaid work by males has increased slightly in the past half century. Minimum estimates of the economic value of household production based on the cost of paying for this household work (proxied by the market wage of a housekeeper) range from 20 to 40% of GDP. The estimates are even higher if measuring the opportunity cost of women’s time. Paula England and Nancy Folbre have shown that societal devaluation of care work contributes importantly to gender wage gaps, including to what International Labour Organisation researchers recently identified as the ‘motherhood pay gap’. This has significant implications for international and intertemporal economic comparisons. A number of empirical studies have demonstrated the extent to which measures of economic growth have been biased by not accounting for the shift of household economic activity to the market sector, especially during periods of rising female labour force participation. GDP and income growth overstates economic progress and wellbeing, and is increasingly understating poverty and inequality as nonmarket production becomes less of a buffer. For example, it has been shown that in Norway between 1972 and 1999, the growth in households’ consumption possibilities was overstated by more than 20%

11 New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding …


Fig. 11.1 Value of unpaid work as a percentage of GDP (Source Australian Bureau of Statistics, Spotlight on the National Accounts: Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy (May 2014, 12), Canberra: ABS (accessed 3 October 2017). Note Data was derived from incorporating estimates of Household Production of Non Market Services, OECD Statistical Working Papers, October 2011, and ABS estimates based on Time Use Survey, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, Labour Force Survey, Australian System of National Accounts)

by GDP, which grew much faster than the growth of extended GDP. The amount of household production is quite similar across households, so as home production shrinks, inequality worsens by more than is revealed by trends in market income inequality. The significant value of unpaid work to national productive activity is well illustrated by a comparison of estimates of unpaid work as a share of national production for 27 countries using two different valuation measures (see Fig. 11.1). While there is great cross-country variation, these results show that the lowest estimate of the value of unpaid work using a market replacement cost approach was 15% of GDP in Canada and using an opportunity cost approach was 32% of national productive activity in Hungary.

Time-Use Data Collection of time-use data has shown the high time costs of providing care. From the 1980s, researchers such as Duncan Ironmonger and Ann Chadeau demonstrated the relevance and usefulness of collecting time-use data, including to value household production using


Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

input- or output-based methods. Collection of data on household time inputs into household production has also revealed large gender gaps in leisure, pointing to how differences in economic well-being of women and men have been masked by inadequate and misfocused statistical collection and measurement.

Links Between Fiscal Policies and Household Production of Services A gender lens also highlights the significance of household services and goods for the market and government sectors. In the tradition of Ester Boserup, who showed in the 1970s how women experienced economic development differently from men, Diane Elson and others have shown how fiscal policy differentially affects women. Gender analysis of structural adjustment policies imposed on developing countries during the 1980s anticipated the particularly adverse impacts on women of economic and fiscal policy responses to the global financial crisis since 2007. Feminist analysis has shown how unpaid household production and reproductive work invisibly underpins the functioning of government budgets. Non-market household production is crucial to national budgets and economic sustainability, through provision of care of dependent children and the elderly, and maintaining demographic and labour force stability. Since the 1990s, rapidly declining fertility and population ageing have become key issues for public policy in many countries, including in rapidly industrialising countries such as China and South Korea. In Korea, this has led to policies aiming to address problems of a shrinking workforce and to more widely share women’s household work and care burdens. Increasing female labour force participation highlighted the need for new budgetary expenditures on elder care and child care. A recent study compared the scale of Korean government provision of childcare and eldercare with that provided by women in the household sector. Despite substantial recent budget increases, government provision was very small in relation to the huge extent of care services still provided by women in the household sector.

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Likewise, Australian government expenditure on childcare is around $8 billion a year compared to the $65 billion worth of unpaid childcare services that the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates is provided by households each year.

Creating and Valuing Human Capital Stock When women’s time is viewed as free, no account is taken of the lost economic production or lost leisure due to rising female labour-force participation. For example, in 2016 the head of the IMF bemoaned the lost productivity of women who were not in employment, without acknowledging that increased market work could be accompanied by a loss of productivity in home production. The expansion of market opportunities has liberated women in some ways but at the expense of a shrinking care economy. An important contribution by feminist economic analysis has been to ask ‘who pays for the kids’, and show that child raising has features of a public good. Parental rewards and incentives for investment in children reduce as the benefits of children are socialised in the modern economy, while the costs, such as foregone labour market earnings, remain substantially on individual parents. These costs fall particularly on mothers whose earnings and retirement incomes are lowered by workforce participation breaks and their segregation into occupations and employment that accommodate child raising. Resource transfers made by the non-market household sector to governments, the market sector and to future generations are largely hidden from view by conventional economic statistics. The SNA measures the creation of physical capital such as factories or buildings, but does not measure the accumulation of value which arises from household investments in human capital, taking form as young citizens and workers. Australian studies have confirmed that the country’s human capital stock remains much larger than the physical capital of the country, even when non-market household contributions are undercounted.


Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

By 2017, around 20 countries had estimated the value of their human capital by valuing the future income stream of young adults (‘the rate of return method’). Though such estimates do not encompass the non-monetary household contributions to the education and health of humans, acknowledging the economic importance of human capital formation is an important conceptual advance led by feminist economic critiques of the SNA.

Breastfeeding Breastfeeding and human milk provides an archetypical illustration of how feminist economic analysis has contributed new ways of thinking, and approaches to policymaking. Indeed, Counting for Nothing cited breastfeeding as an example of GDP mismeasurement. This led to research showing how breast milk, being a ‘good’ produced by households for their own consumption, was omitted from GDP despite meeting the revised SNA93 guidelines for inclusion. As the SNA is currently applied, the market value of milk formula production and sales are counted in a nation’s GDP, but the value of breast milk production is not. Market values are available, with hospitals caring for vulnerable newborns paying around $300 or more a litre for human milk. Moreover, women and children who have not breastfed have higher rates of illness, chronic disease and hospitalisation. The financial costs to the health system and to families of this additional illness and disease are (perversely) counted as increasing GDP while the economic cost of households investing time in breastfeeding to prevent such health problems is not counted. A number of epidemiological studies (including in Australia) have identified the substantial costs to national health systems of the global trend to formula feeding. Breastfeeding has an economic cost which is borne mainly by women—care and feeding of infants is highly time-intensive. It is not a ‘free resource’, and is a learned skill that may not come naturally to all women. By ignoring the time investment by women, governments and society avoid responsibility for resourcing women to breastfeed, such as through providing adequate paid family leave and ensuring employer

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and other accommodations and support for such care work is available. The mindset that breastfeeding requires no skill or effort and is easily substitutable by modified cows’ milk also results in failure to ensure there is suitably skilled lactation support available for new mothers using health-care services. In 2016, feminist economic conceptualisation of non-market contributions to human capital formation underpinned estimates by Nigel Rollins and colleagues in leading medical journal The Lancet on the contribution of breastfeeding to the value of a country’s human capital. This path-breaking study estimated that premature cessation of breastfeeding cost the global economy around $300 billion a year in lost productivity and income arising from child cognitive losses, and called for governments and health services to invest more in enabling women to breastfeed.

Impact A gender lens on how the economy is defined has increased awareness of the economic importance of unpaid household work, and of women’s work. This has led to more widespread acceptance that statistical measurements should be expanded to include unpaid work as well as environmental values. In 2016, The Economist called for key reforms to SNA, notably, for non-market production to be included in GDP. Valuing non-market production as part of the economy has contributed to better understanding of income distribution and achieved more comprehensive estimates of the level of economic activity, as well as giving visibility to women’s work. It is now widely acknowledged that failing to recognise the economic importance of women’s unpaid productive and reproductive work in this influential global statistical system entrenches male privilege, reinforces gender inequality and drives a significant misallocation of resources. Furthermore, the androcentric application of core GDP boundaries mismeasures economic activity and ignores important connections and interdependencies between the market and government sectors and household production of goods, services and human capital. By the


Julie P. Smith and Nancy Folbre

early 1990s, SNA had been modified to include the value of household subsistence production. However, unpaid household services such as care remained outside core GDP. In an important study in 2009, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen called for moving beyond GDP to measure economic progress. Reflecting on the household sector, they observed that as countries develop the shift from home to market production may ‘overstate increases in well-being’ and ‘policies that encourage market over non-market production distort the economy’. A particular example cited was the omission of breast milk, which they explained was ‘clearly within the System of National Accounts production boundary, is quantitatively non-trivial and also has important implications for public policy and child and maternal health’. Meanwhile feminist scholarship has driven important innovations in how the economy is conceived, and of the dynamic intergenerational interconnections between the non-market household sector and the market sector. The collection and analysis of time-use statistics has been a crucial innovation driven by feminist economic research. It has demonstrated the unequal burden placed on women, and provided a deeper understanding of the supply side of the care economy and how it contributes to gender inequity in pay. Such data and its analysis from a ‘total economy’ perspective have helped reorient economic policy in some countries in ways which reduce gender inequality. For example, the Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Parental Leave drew on this conceptual thinking to make the business case for the paid maternity leave that was introduced in 2011. Responding to the call for satellite accounts of non-market household production in SNA93, estimates have now been made for a number of countries. Likewise, the importance of accounting for human capital in national accounts of economic activity is increasingly appreciated. Leading economists have begun promoting the importance of early childhood investment, including by the family. There is also a recognised need to measure human capital through methodologies which include its non-market costs and particularly the contribution of the maternal care economy.

11 New Ways to Measure Economic Activity: Breastfeeding …


What remains important, however, is not only recognising the value of women’s economic contribution, but also achieving a more equitable gender sharing of the burden of this work and redistributing such costs more widely in society. This work is crucial for future economic progress to be based on genuine efficiency gains and human development rather than on depleting household production and care, and depreciating human capital. The necessary innovation in thinking and data gathering and analysis relies on a foundation developed through feminist perspectives on economics (Fig. 11.2).

Fig. 11.2 Stone frieze on exterior balcony of the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France, depicting nursing mother (Source Photo by Catherine Constable, 2017)


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Key Readings Bjørnholt, Margunn and Ailsa McKay, eds. 2014. Counting on Marilyn Waring: New Advances in Feminist Economics. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press. Elson, Diane. 2012. ‘Social Reproduction in the Global Crisis: Rapid Recovery or Long-Lasting Depletion?’ In The Global Crisis and Transformative Social Change, edited by Peter Utting, Shahra Razavi and Rebecca Varghese Buchholz, 63–80. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Folbre, Nancy. 1991. ‘The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Economic Thought’. Signs 16(3): 463–84. Folbre, Nancy. 1994. ‘Children as Public Goods’. American Economic Review 84(2): 86–90. Smith, Julie P. and Robert Forrester. 2013. ‘Who Pays for the Health Benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding? An Analysis of Maternal Time Costs’. Journal of Human Lactation 29(4): 547–55. Smith, Julie P. and Lindy H. Ingham. 2005. ‘Mothers’ Milk and Measures of Economic Output.’ Feminist Economics 11(1): 41–62.

12 Gender Budgeting Marian Sawer and Miranda Stewart

Abstract Officials developing government budgets often assume that taxing and spending decisions will be gender neutral, unless it is a matter of a designated ‘women’s program’. This overlooks the different roles played by men and women in the social division of labour, both paid and unpaid, that result in purportedly neutral policies having quite disparate effects. For example, ‘austerity budgets’ will usually have a disproportionate impact on women. Feminist economists argued for a ‘gender lens’ on budget development to identify such inadvertent effects that may widen inequalities. A gender budgeting movement underpinned by this work gained momentum internationally during the 1990s. Over half of OECD countries have adopted some form of it and Marian Sawer (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] Miranda Stewart University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



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it is increasingly being applied to support pro-poor and equality goals in developing countries. Keywords Gender budgeting · Feminist economics · Unpaid work

The Issue: Budgets and Their Blind Spots Budgets are the central political document that activates government policy by raising revenues and allocating expenditures legislated by the Parliament. The process of taxing and spending distributes benefits and burdens across the community. So, as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has said, the budget is the ‘single most important policy document of governments, where policy objectives are reconciled and implemented in concrete terms’. Officials developing budgets often assume that taxing and spending decisions will be gender neutral, unless it is a matter of a designated ‘women’s program’. This overlooks the different roles played by men and women in the social division of labour, both paid and unpaid, which result in purportedly neutral policies having quite disparate effects. The lack of attention paid to the disparate effects of budgetary decisions on men and women means that such decisions fail to address gender inequality and may all too often have the inadvertent effect of widening rather than narrowing gender gaps. For example, ‘austerity budgets’1 will usually have a disproportionate impact on women. Women’s well-being is more reliant on public spending to provide health and services, employment and household income support. In general, because their investment of time in the care of children reduces their capacity to earn market income, women are more reliant than men on redistribution through tax and public expenditure systems. They are also more likely to be employed in the human services provided by government. Thus, fiscal constraint and tax reductions may impact women more than men, both as consumers and as providers of government-funded services. Budgeting principles tend to assume that expenditure on largescale physical investment, on ‘capital’ account, is suitable for longterm government borrowing and public equity in ‘public–private

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partnerships’. Public expenditures supporting human capital are not analysed in budget settings as comparable long-term investments. Rather, expenditure budgeted on ‘current’ account—including on human (capital) services such as health, education and childcare—is usually supposed to be financed by current taxes. Such government programs, which pay the salaries of health workers, teachers and early childhood educators, are highly visible and vulnerable to policies of fiscal restraint and expenditure cuts in the short term. The way budgets are framed has also failed to include the nonmarket reproductive and care work on which the market economy rests and is blind to the potential effects of increased labour market participation on the provision of household and family care work. Increased female labour-force participation that is not offset by the redistribution of household work increases time stresses on women more than on men, reducing their leisure time, health and well-being. Budget framing has obscured rather than illuminated the economic contribution of household and family work; the gendered allocation of caring roles in the market and household economy; and the differential effects of policy on women and men in market and household sectors. Moreover, it has often been based on assumptions of the pooling of household resources,2 an assumption that empirical research was to bring into question by the 1980s.

Feminist Interventions Feminist interventions in relation to the budget process have been characterised by a particularly close relationship between feminist researchers and policy practitioners, with a number combining both roles. For example, Marilyn Waring was so incensed by her experience chairing the public accounts committee of the New Zealand parliament that she later undertook groundbreaking research into the distorting effects of the United Nations System of National Accounts on the presentation of national accounts. In 1988, she published Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth, revealing the failure of national accounts or the measurement of gross domestic


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product (GDP) to count either environmental values or the value of women’s unpaid work in the household economy. By the early 1990s, feminist critiques were leading to the inclusion of some non-market production, such as subsistence agriculture, in key measures of the economy such as GDP. By 2009, leading economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen were acknowledging that the omission from GDP of non-market work such as women’s work in providing breastfeeding and breast milk had important implications for public policy and child and maternal health. Work by feminists such as Diane Elson and Susan Himmelweit was instrumental in illustrating that the invisibility of women’s economic contributions distorted public policy priorities and budget decision-making, making it less efficient and less equitable. In Australia, applied work by economists like Rhonda Sharp contributed to the development of the theory and practice of what became known internationally as gender budgeting or gender-responsive budgeting. Both feminist policymakers and social science researchers understood that implementation of gender equality policy required engagement with the central political and policy process of budgeting. Only minuscule portions of budgets were allocated to designated ‘women’s equality’ programs. It was more important to ensure gender assessment of the much larger budget allocations long assumed to be gender neutral. Feminists in government (often referred to as femocrats) and feminist economists argued that gender-disaggregated impact analysis was required, drawing on evidence of the distribution of men and women across different sectors of the paid and unpaid economies. This did not mean a separate budget for women, but close gender analysis of the likely impact of budgetary decisions. Taking into account both market work and non-market work was essential for an accurate assessment of likely impact and avoidance of unintended consequences. Such assessment might reveal and hopefully pre-empt the results of apparently neutral government policies, or the interaction of these policies, in increasing gender inequality. Policy failures or unintended consequences frequently follow when policy is made assuming gender neutrality, without taking account of differently situated men and women. Hence, there are

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important efficiency as well as equity arguments to be made for gender budgeting. The application of a ‘gender lens’ to the budget may be carried out at various levels of policy formulation, financing and delivery. One widely used definition is that of the Council of Europe, which describes it as a ‘gender-based assessment of budgets, incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality’. A snapshot of the kind of gender differences that Australian budget policymakers need to take into account when assessing gender impact has been provided by Marian Baird (Fig. 12.1). Other important gender gaps, such as in access to leisure, have been more difficult to track because of a long hiatus since the last Australian Time Use Survey was conducted in 2006. But the patterns of work and care identified by Baird need to be taken into account in policymaking if

Fig. 12.1 Gender gaps at a glance (Source Data collected by Marian Baird and Andreea Constantin, 2018–2019)


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women are not to disproportionately suffer poverty in old age. Women’s disproportionate contribution to unpaid care work and housework contributes to significant economic disadvantage and dependency. In Australia, the gap in rewards for women’s economic contribution is reinforced and perpetuated by the wage-based superannuation savings system for retirement introduced in 1992. This market-based rather than citizenship-based system of retirement income support significantly disadvantages women—given that women are more likely to have breaks in paid employment and to return to paid employment on a part-time basis, often in lower paid jobs. The Australian federal government introduced the world’s first women’s budget statement in 1984 and continued to produce detailed budget statements until 1993. Thanks to policy transfer through regular meetings of State and Commonwealth Women’s Advisers, gender budgeting was introduced in all Australian jurisdictions in the 1980s and early 1990s. As seen below, the theory and practice of gender budgeting was then exported internationally through intergovernmental bodies such as the OECD and the Commonwealth of Nations. At the 1996 meeting of Commonwealth Ministers Responsible for Women’s Affairs, the ministers called on Commonwealth countries to pilot gender budgeting—a call endorsed by the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting. Although Australian femocrats initiated the world’s first gender budgets, non-government women’s organisations have often played a critical role in carrying out and lobbying for gender impact analysis of budgets. In South Africa, collaboration between nongovernment organisations and women parliamentarians was crucial to the development of South Africa’s pioneering Women’s Budget Initiative. In the United Kingdom, the Women’s Budget Group3 has been active since 1989 and there is a separate Scottish Women’s Budget Group promoting gender analysis in Scottish budget processes. Civil society groups have also played an important role in Japan and South Korea. In Australia, as Commonwealth and State governments exited from gender budgeting, non-government organisations also needed to fill the gap. Since 2014, the National Foundation for Australian Women has published an annual Gender Lens on the Budget,4 prepared on

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a voluntary basis by policy experts. While this external perspective is valuable, external groups cannot do the same work as an internal budgeting process that takes account of gender in setting policy and expenditure priorities, indicators and goals. Gender budgeting may be done at the level of principles or conceptual analysis or may be delivered through identification of key indicators of taxing and expenditure directed to gender equality programs and outcomes. More substantially, it may involve detailed modelling of the distributional impact of taxes and spending on women and men, including incidence analysis for indirect taxes such as the company tax or value added taxes. This can be a complex task. To achieve gender budgeting requires adequate data, including gender-disaggregated and intersectional data, about a range of government policies and effects.

Impact A gender budgeting movement gained momentum during the 1990s underpinned by the work of feminist economists and the emerging epistemic community embodied in the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE). Of those economists most closely associated with gender critique of macroeconomics and the development of gender budgeting, Rhonda Sharp, Nancy Folbre and Sue Himmelweit were all to have terms as President of IAFFE. Another feminist economist, Diane Elson, who was a key actor in the UK Women’s Budget Group, developed the conceptual framework used in the Commonwealth of Nations pilot gender budgeting program. Operational guidelines were provided by feminist economist Rhonda Sharp, who had experience developing the initial South Australian women’s budget, and Debbie Budlender, a researcher for a South African non-government organisation and a founding member of the South African Women’s Budget Initiative. The United Nations Beijing Platform for Action (1995) on women’s equality gave global impetus to the concept, calling for the inclusion of gender analysis in budget decisions:


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Full and effective implementation of the Platform for Action … will require the integration of a gender perspective in budgetary decisions on policies and programmes, as well as the adequate financing of specific programmes for securing equality between men and women.

Today, gender budgeting is receiving renewed attention both in developed and developing countries and is being promoted by intergovernmental institutions like the United Nations,5 the Commonwealth of Nations6 and the Inter-Parliamentary Union7 as well the OECD8 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).9 International non-government organisations such as Oxfam10 are also promoting best practice in the area. In a global development context, gender budgeting is seen as one part of the process in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At a regional level, the European Union11 and the Council of Europe have embraced gender budgeting and the combination of analytic and normative functions it can perform—both incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality. By 2014, over 90 countries had experimented with some form of gender budgeting as part of gender mainstreaming. More recently, the OECD has reported12 that not only are its member states practising gender budgeting but some have also introduced statutory provision for it in their budget law (Austria, Iceland, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands and Spain). In other cases, including Belgium and some of the Nordic countries, there is no statutory provision for gender budgeting (as contrasted with broader gender equality principles) but the budget authority provides guidelines for implementation. South Korea is one of the OECD member states where the government has a legal obligation to prepare a gender budget statement each year and present it to parliament. Since 2010, the National Finance Act has required all ministries to submit a gender budget statement and balance sheet to the National Assembly and this has had an impact on some key areas of policy including childcare funding. On the other side of the globe, the Swedish Government elected in 2014 has said that it is the first ‘feminist government’13 in the world and that ‘The Government’s most important tool for implementing feminist policy

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is gender mainstreaming, of which gender-responsive budgeting is an important component’. In 2017, the Canadian federal government included a gender statement in its core budget documentation for the first time (Government of Canada, 2017),14 described as ‘a first comprehensive attempt at reviewing and reporting on how budgetary decisions affect women and men differently. It detailed not only gender gaps but also the intersecting identity factors (GBA+) that must be considered in public policy—for example, ethnicity, age, income, sexual orientation. Gender innovation in applied work by feminist economists has resulted in a global movement for gender budgeting. A gender budget analysis can identify the different impacts on women and men of budget policies that are formally neutral, such as tax, welfare and retirement policies. A gender equity policy would then seek to correct unfair impacts. For example, policy aimed at increasing women’s workforce participation and private retirement saving must take account of any adverse impacts on unpaid reproductive and care work. This is essential if government policy is to achieve its stated policy goals. Gender budgeting is not a panacea for inequality. However, gender budgeting is a key government and civil society process that can contribute to gender equal policy development and help hold governments accountable for achieving gender equality goals. Acknowledgements Our thanks to Rhonda Sharp and Julie Smith for their contribution to this case study.

Notes 1. 2. Economics/Economic_security_for_women_in_retirement/Report. 3. 4. 5. pdf.


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6. 7. handbook-parliament-budget-and-gender. 8. pdf. 9. 10. 11. 12. pdf. 13. 14.

Key Readings Elson, Diane. 2006. Budgeting for Women’s Rights: Monitoring Government Budgets for Compliance with CEDAW. New York: UNIFEM. Himmelweit, Susan. 2002. ‘Making Visible the Hidden Economy: The Case for Gender-Impact Analysis of Economic Policy’. Feminist Economics 8(1): 49–70. Kahn, Zohra and Lisa Kolovich. 2019. ‘Do the Math: Include Women in Government Budgets’. IMF Blog, 6 March. 06/do-the-math-include-women-in-government-budgets/. Sharp, Rhonda and Ray Broomhill. 2002. ‘Budgeting for Equality: The Australian Experience’. Feminist Economics 8(1): 25–47. Stewart, Miranda, ed. 2017. Tax, Social Policy and Gender: Rethinking Equality and Efficiency. Canberra: ANU Press. tax-social-policy-and-gender. Waring, Marilyn. 1988. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth. Wellington: Allen & Unwin/Port Nicholson Press.

13 Feminist Economics and Retirement Income and Savings Policy Siobhan Austen and Rhonda Sharp

Abstract The contributions of feminist economics to retirement income and savings policy have increased the visibility of the unpaid economy— and women’s central role in social reproduction. These contributions have highlighted the contradictions between economic policy that, on the one hand, seeks to increase women’s labour force participation as a means of promoting economic growth but, on the other hand, defunds investments in reproductive and care work in the unpaid economy, which are vital to future economic growth. The continuing challenge posed by feminist economics to the orthodox assumptions of economic policy is critical for promoting gender equality in retirement incomes and savings policy. Siobhan Austen (B) Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia e-mail: [email protected] Rhonda Sharp University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Siobhan Austen and Rhonda Sharp

Keywords Feminist economics · Economics · Retirement income · Pensions · Superannuation · Australia

The Issue: Retirement Income Historically, the discipline of economics has neglected subjects that particularly affect women, such as, unpaid household labour, care work, discrimination, undervaluation and intrahousehold economic relations. The measurement and analysis of these experiences is still only patchy. In the case of retirement income and savings policy, the focus of economists over the past 30 years has been on ageing populations, increased longevity and the rising cost of aged income support to the public purse. These economic analyses of retirement income and savings policy frame the issue as an individual rather than a structural problem; policy prescriptions are about maximising individual choice rather than providing for human needs. Markets rather than governments are seen as an efficient mechanism for achieving these policy outcomes, while the contribution of unpaid productive activities is ignored and implicitly assumed to be unlimited in supply. In line with many industrialised countries, the framing of retirement income and savings policy in Australia has seen a shift towards ‘self-provision’ in retirement—with an important aim being to reduce the numbers of aged persons in receipt of the age pension and its cost to government. Key policy developments in Australia have included the introduction in 1992 of mandated employer superannuation contributions (currently 9.5%) on behalf of their employees (the Superannuation Guarantee Charge) and the provision of increasingly generous taxation concessions for individual retirement savings. This policy direction has facilitated the development of a huge private sector superannuation industry whose assets were valued by the Association of Superannuation Funds Australia at $2.9 trillion in June 2019. This is greater than Australia’s whole GDP and represents the world’s fourth largest superannuation pool. The policies have also produced a very high level of gender inequality in retirement income. In 2013–2014, the median superannuation balance of Australian women

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aged 65 and older was a fraction of men’s ($5586 compared to $37,032). The intersection of gender with other disadvantages results in further inequality, with 45.9% of women and 37.8% of men aged 65 and over having zero superannuation in 2013–2014. Partly reflecting the gender gap in superannuation, Australian women are much more reliant on the age pension and other payments than men. The gender gap in superannuation contributions emerges in the youngest group of Australian taxpayers, and persists throughout the life-course. While the gap varies over the life course, women’s superannuation amount balances are never equal to (a ratio of 1:1) or higher than those held by men (see Fig. 13.1). Men’s superannuation account balances exceed women’s in each and every age group. This means there are currently few prospects for improvements in gender equity in retirement income in coming decades; a concern that is echoed across the industrialised world. Feminist economics has emerged to address the wide range of issues important to women and gender equality that have been neglected by orthodox economic analysis. It has a relatively short

Fig. 13.1 Ratio of male to female average superannuation account balances: 2013–2014 (Source Authors’ calculations from Australian Tax Office, Individuals’ Sample File 2013–14, accessed 29 October 2019 at ds-dga-25e81c18-2083-4abe-81b6-0f530053c63f/distribution/dist-dga-38a7cdedb3d6-41ec-bf33-b320801331e5/details?q)


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formal history with the incorporation of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in 1992 and the launch of its journal, Feminist Economics, in 1995. Generally, feminist economics counters the masculinity of mainstream economics by addressing the realities of women’s lives and their economic and other contributions, and it challenges definitions of the economics discipline in masculine-only terms. Feminist economists have articulated efficiency and equity rationales for gender-disaggregated economic studies, and they have developed and implemented new constructs and evidence to facilitate such investigations. More broadly, feminist economics shifts the definition of economics away from a singular focus on the generation and possession of material wealth by isolated individuals towards a study of how individuals create value in relationships with others and in various contexts (markets, households and organisations). Feminist economics unlinks gender from sex and, in doing so, counters the mainstream tendency to interpret differences in economic actions and outcomes as the product of essential differences in men’s and women’s natures. This also allows feminist economic analyses to acknowledge the relatively broad range of motivations and interests that influence men’s and women’s economic decisions. Through a focus on the gendered nature of economic structures and processes, feminist economics brings to the fore the patterns of gender, class and other power relationships that are produced and reproduced in economic systems.

Feminist Interventions Feminist economic studies of retirement income and savings policy identify and unpack the large gender inequities and inefficiencies that policy directions based on gender-blind economic theory have created. The studies emphasise the vulnerability of women to poverty in old age under the current regime. They highlight how occupation-based contributions to retirement income reproduce (and often magnify) gender and other differences in paid work and they pose alternatives that would better serve the retirement income needs of both women and other disadvantaged groups.

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The economic relevance of retirement income and savings policy to women and the extent of women’s unequal access to superannuation in Australia was detailed in Rhonda Sharp and Ray Broomhill’s 1988 book, Short-Changed: Women and Economic Policies. This study documented women’s historical lack of access to superannuation, identified how the policy shift to occupational superannuation by the Hawke Labor government in Australia would perpetuate gender inequalities into retirement, and outlined the elements of a feminist strategy for policy change. Factors identified as lowering women’s access to superannuation relative to that of men were: women’s lower relative earnings; shorter time spent in paid work; loss of access to partner superannuation in the event of marriage break-up; and discriminatory terms and conditions of superannuation schemes and regulations. The study critiqued the government’s restructuring of retirement incomes policy on the grounds that women’s patterns of paid and unpaid work would likely result in lesser access to superannuation and retirement benefits compared to that of men. Also, the policy of providing generous tax concessions to superannuation would afford major opportunities for high-income earners to increase their retirement incomes while delivering only limited benefits for low-income and marginally attached workers. Short-Changed identified the dynamics of gender inequality embedded in retirement income and savings policy at the time. It noted the state’s ambivalence in relation to progressing gender equality while also recognising the iron grip that gender-blind orthodox economic theory was exerting over economic policy formulation. One of the driving forces of the policy was a desire to shift the burden of providing retirement incomes away from the age pension and onto individuals; hence reducing the state’s role in providing for social reproduction. The age pension was neutral in relation to the mix of paid and unpaid work performed over the life course. An express motivation for these changes was concern about the cost of public welfare as the Australian population rapidly aged. However, as Short-Changed noted, the generous tax concessions created new pressures on the state’s budget. It predicted this would ultimately create pressure for further cutbacks in areas of particular importance to women.


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The feminist strategy to engender retirement income and savings policy outlined in Short-Changed included a long-term proposal for the restructuring of the system away from occupational superannuation. It noted that women suffered significant disadvantage compared to men under occupational superannuation because it ties retirement income to full participation in the labour market. A retirement income and savings policy based upon a universal strategy, and which shifts the system away from the uncertainties and risks of private superannuation funds, was identified as a more equitable and efficient policy approach. Short-Changed warned that such changes would meet strong opposition from powerful interests benefiting from the privatised system, namely high-income men and the large superannuation and insurance funds and banks. Subsequent feminist studies of the Australian retirement income and savings system have elaborated on themes raised in Short-Changed. Many of these have highlighted the magnitude and deep-seated nature of the gender equalities in Australia’s retirement and savings system through use of economic models that incorporate gender-disaggregated data. At the IAFFE conference in 1998, Susan Donath spoke to what she called ‘The continuing problem of women’s retirement income’ with her estimates of the limited superannuation benefits that women in different income groups derive over a lifetime. She showed that even if women were in paid work continuously for 45 years, if they were low paid their superannuation savings would not produce a flow of retirement income that exceeds the age pension. Further confirmation of women’s limited benefits from superannuation savings was provided by Alison Preston and Siobhan Austen’s 2001 study that used micro-simulation methods to show that career breaks before the age of 40 also undermined women’s superannuation savings—and retirement incomes. Their modelling demonstrated the importance of factors relating to workforce attachment (hours worked, career breaks and the gender pay gap) to the gender gap in superannuation, and it further highlighted the vulnerability of women to inadequate retirement income. A follow-up study by Therese Jefferson and Alison Preston in 2005 addressed the implications of the retirement income system for baby boomer women (born between 1950

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and 1960). The modelling included in this study estimated that over their lifetimes, women in the baby boomer cohort would spend 35% less time in paid employment than their male counterparts, and it predicted that, in combination with the effect of the gender pay gap, this would translate into a gender superannuation gap much greater than 35%. These results further reinforced the importance of an age pension for gender equality. Therese Jefferson’s qualitative study of women’s experiences of retirement savings further developed understandings of the links between the structuring of women’s decision-making through the life course and their later access to economic resources. This doctoral thesis highlighted how superannuation links the entitlement to independent retirement income to an individual’s participation in paid work, but also noted that many women’s access to retirement income was adversely affected by household decision-making processes that reproduce traditional savings patterns. The research challenges the assumption of orthodox economic analysis that individuals make decisions about their retirement savings with a view to expected future outcomes. Jefferson showed how many women’s retirement savings decisions were shaped by social context and were little influenced by expected outcomes in later life. Relevant features of this decision-making context include the complexities of decisionmaking in multi-person households, gender norms relating to household financial management and workforce participation and the emotional aspects of making decisions about retirement savings. A further important theme of feminist economic studies of retirement income and savings is the integral role of reproductive and caring work in capitalist economies, and therefore the importance of understanding the interactions between the paid and the unpaid economies. Orthodox economic analysis and policy has typically ignored the unpaid economy and its contribution to social reproduction, and has thus produced retirement income and savings policies that are negative for both gender equality and macroeconomic efficiency. Julie Smith (2007) tackled these issues by noting how current retirement income and savings policies penalise individuals who take on unpaid care roles including breastfeeding and infant care, and in doing so, can both discourage the provision of cost-effective and high-quality care and undermine the


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quality of the future labour force. She argues that policies that seek to facilitate private spouse contributions on behalf of mothers during periods of reduced paid work tend only to reinforce gendered patterns of paid and unpaid work. Gender budgeting provides a further important focus for Australian feminist economic studies of retirement income. Rhonda Sharp and Siobhan Austen provide a gender analysis of the taxation and expenditure measures in the 2006 federal budget, which planned major changes to retirement incomes and savings policy. Sizable revenue losses from a range of concessional taxation measures for superannuation were identified and shown to give the greatest gains to those in full-time work and on the highest marginal rates of tax, thus exacerbating already high levels of gender inequity in Australian retirement incomes. The application of a gender lens to the budget was further extended in a 2015 article by the same authors, with Helen Hodgson, that outlined a gender impact assessment framework. This framework could be utilised to systematically assess the gender impact of a range of taxation and expenditure measures relating to retirement income and savings. The study highlighted the continuing need to provide a gender perspective on the resource allocations prioritised in the budget for retirement incomes. These large allocations not only impact differentially on men and women, but they discriminate against individuals whose economic and other contributions are made through unpaid work.

Impact Over the past three decades, feminist economics has contributed to a broader feminist critique of retirement incomes and savings policy. In this context, feminist economics has played a role in establishing a research and policy agenda around women’s access to a decent retirement income. In the 1980s when an Australian Labor government made superannuation the linchpin of its economic strategy, the critical need to integrate a gender perspective into economic policy was poorly recognised. Today the topic of women’s retirement income is widely discussed. Feminist critiques have developed an agenda for research

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and policy changes to retirement income and savings policy on equity grounds. Feminist economics has made valuable contributions to that agenda and has been particularly important in efforts to outline the efficiency arguments for policy reform. To achieve this, feminist economists have needed to challenge both existing policy ‘visions’ and the assumptions embedded in orthodox economic models. The contributions of feminist economics around retirement income and savings policy have increased the visibility of the unpaid economy— and women’s central role in social reproduction. These contributions have highlighted the contradictions between economic policy that, on the one hand, seeks to increase women’s labour force participation as a means of promoting economic growth but, on the other hand, defunds investments in reproductive and care work in the unpaid economy, which are vital to future economic growth. The continuing challenge posed by feminist economics to the orthodox assumptions of economic policy is critical for promoting gender equality in retirement incomes and savings policy. A future research and policy agenda will involve further explorations of these assumptions as well as translating existing research into an effective strategy for policy and budgetary changes.

Key Readings Austen, Siobhan and Rhonda Sharp. 2017. ‘Budgeting for Women’s Rights in Retirement’. In Gender Equality in Australia’s Tax/Transfer System, edited by Miranda Stewart, 293–322. Canberra: ANU Press. Austen, Siobhan, Rhonda Sharp and Helen Hodgson. 2015. ‘Gender Impact Analysis and the Taxation of Retirement Savings in Australia’. Australian Tax Forum 30(4): 763–81. Jefferson, Therese. 2005. ‘Women and Retirement Incomes in Australia: A Review’. Economic Record 81 (254): 273–91. Sharp, Rhonda and Ray Broomhill. 1988. ‘Women and Superannuation.’ In Short-Changed: Women and Economic Policies, edited by Rhonda Sharp and Ray Broomhill, 130–58. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.


Siobhan Austen and Rhonda Sharp

Smith, Julie. 2007. ‘Time Use Among New Mothers, the Economic Value of Unpaid Care Work and Gender Aspects of Superannuation Tax Concessions’. Australian Journal of Labour Economics 10(2): 99–114.

14 The Individual Deprivation Measure: A Gender-Sensitive Approach to Multidimensional Poverty Measurement Sharon Bessell

Abstract The relationship between poverty and gender is complex and deeply embedded in the values and institutions that determine patterns of access to and control over social and material resources. Any measurement of poverty that fails to take this into account is fundamentally flawed. Yet the dominant approach to poverty measurement, which is based on income, is particularly insensitive to gender as it fails to illuminate either the conditions under which income is earned or the extent to which individuals can control the money they earn. In contrast, the recently developed Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) is sensitive to multiple dimensions of poverty and uses the individual, not the household, as the unit of analysis. Keywords Poverty measurement · Multidimensional · Gender sensitive

Sharon Bessell (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Sharon Bessell

The Issue: Measuring Poverty The relationship between poverty and gender is complex and deeply embedded in the values and institutions that determine patterns of access to and control over social and material resources. Gendered roles, responsibilities and hierarchies result in women and men experiencing poverty differently—regardless of whether poverty is conceptualised as multidimensional or income-based. Any measure of poverty that fails to take this into account is fundamentally flawed. Yet measurement of poverty has been curiously blind to gender. The dominant approach to poverty measurement, based on income, is particularly insensitive to gender as it fails to illuminate either the conditions under which income is earned or the extent to which individuals control that income. That women and men experience differently the impacts of development, particularly economic development, has long been known within the social sciences. In 1970, Ester Boserup’s Women’s Role in Economic Development detailed the ways in which the specialisation of labour, higher levels of education and urbanisation impacted unequally on women and men. While Boserup did not challenge dominant assumptions about the pathway towards ‘development’, her research drew attention to the significance of gender. The Women in Development (WID) approaches that dominated the 1970s were heavily influenced by the ideas that underpinned Boserup’s research. WID approaches sought to incorporate women into development more effectively, with the aim of enhancing productivity. Little attention was paid to the structural barriers that shape women’s lives and experiences of poverty, and constrain the potential for poverty to be addressed. Enhancing women’s productivity does not necessarily address the gendered dimensions of poverty, nor does such an approach acknowledge ways in which gender-based inequality intersects with poverty. Entry to paid employment may increase women’s income and create opportunities. Yet efforts to enhance women’s incomes through waged employment have often failed to recognise, or address, gender-based hierarchies and the resulting subordination of women within the workplace.

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Enhancing a woman’s income, as a strategy to address poverty, fails to ensure that she has control over the money she earns. Moreover, enhancing a woman’s income may create excessive time burdens if she has no ability to negotiate down her unpaid (often care-related) responsibilities within the household. The outcomes of intra-household bargaining over money and other resources are determined by the power of individuals and the options available to them should household co-operation fail. Poverty alleviation strategies that focus on increasing income fail to recognise either the gendered nature of intra-household power or the often limited fall-back positions available to women, particularly in patriarchal societies. While income remains the dominant means of assessing poverty, the conceptualisation of poverty as multidimensional has led to more comprehensive measures. The Multidimensional Poverty Index, for example, assesses health, education and living standards, providing a deeper understanding of the nature of poverty. While the shift towards multidimensionality represents an important advance in the ways poverty is both conceptualised and measured, the resulting measures have still not been sensitive to gender.

Feminist Interventions In contrast to preceding poverty measures, the newer Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) is an individual level measure of multidimensional poverty that is sensitive to gender. The IDM assesses material and non-material poverty across 15 dimensions. While the IDM includes dimensions that are commonly found in measures of poverty or standards of living (such as food, water, sanitation, shelter, energy/fuel, health and education), it also encompasses more innovative and important dimensions of deprivation (such as clothing, violence, environment and work). Additionally, the IDM includes dimensions (such as relationships, voice, family planning and time-use) that are critical for women.


Sharon Bessell

The IDM assesses the poverty of adult women and men across these 15 dimensions and is explicitly feminist in its approach, seeking to conceptualise poverty through a gender lens and produce data that are sensitive to gender-differences.

Beginning from the Perspectives of Women and Men with Experience of Living in Poverty Poverty measurement has historically suffered from androcentric bias. The dimensions of poverty that are measured are generally those identified as significant by male professionals, often working within the discipline of economics, most of whom have never directly experienced poverty. As a result, poverty measurement has been a top-down exercise, based on data that are regularly collected and readily available—but generally blind to gender and often not even disaggregated according to sex. As a consequence, the dimensions of poverty that are essential to women’s needs, interests, activities and concerns have been systematically ignored and effectively rendered invisible. The research methodology used to develop the IDM did not begin with a survey of existing data sources or a review of dominant methodologies for measuring poverty (although those processes were undertaken at a later stage). Rather, the IDM was developed through a three-phase research process, beginning with research in 18 communities across six countries and involving over 1800 women and men. The research used a range of participatory methods to understand from participants what they considered key indicators of poverty in order to guide policymakers in responding appropriately and effectively to their situation. Rather than resulting from a top-down process, the IDM is grounded in the priorities identified by women and men. In seeking to sensitise poverty measurement to gender, and to focus on the priorities identified by women in particular, it is important not to fall victim to essentialism. While gendered roles and gendered power hierarchies shape women’s experiences of poverty, that experience is not homogenous across all women. Nor is it the case that men are free from the (often deleterious) impacts of both gendered roles and patriarchal

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power structures. Our participatory research sought to illuminate the needs and concerns of both women and men across the life-course. Particular attention was given to issues prioritised by women or resulting from gendered roles and responsibilities, issues neglected by mainstream approaches to poverty.

Measuring What Matters Poverty is often associated with the absence of basic needs, such as food, water or shelter, or of services, such as health and education. The IDM includes each of these as dimensions of poverty, reflecting the priority placed on each by the women and men who participated in the original research. The IDM also measures additional dimensions of poverty that women identified as fundamentally important during the participatory research. As noted, one of the 15 dimensions of the IDM is relationships. This reflects the ways in which women described the existence of social networks and supportive relationships as essential in providing support during times of greatest hardship. Conversely, women described the absence of such relationships as exacerbating the experience of poverty, due to the absence of informal safety nets and support mechanisms. Dimensions of voice and time-use are particularly important to understanding the ways in which poverty impacts on women. ‘Voice’ is a complex concept, and one that relates closely to agency and empowerment; each of these is notoriously difficult to define with precision, let alone measure. Voice is included as a dimension of the IDM despite the measurement challenges because the participatory research indicated the extent to which lack of voice deepens the experience of poverty, particularly for women. There is a potential nexus between the dimension of voice, which includes questions about control over personal decision-making and freedom to go outside the home, and that of relationships. If a woman is prevented from visiting or engaging with friends and family members, her opportunity to draw on supportive networks in times of hardship is reduced. Here, we see that while the IDM is comprised of 15 separate dimensions, deprivation in more than


Sharon Bessell

one dimension (such as voice and relationships, for example) has a compounding effect. The ways in which time is used provides important insights into the nature of poverty: both through the need for very long hours of work in order to earn sufficient to survive and through under-employment and the resulting challenges. For women, recognition of unpaid work and of multi-tasking is essential if the gendered nature of time-burdens—and the extent of women’s work—is to be captured. In responding to the priorities identified during the participatory research, the development of the IDM was influenced by feminist standpoint theory. The poor experience a reality that can be observed but never fully understood by those who have not experienced poverty. Poor women, as a result of gendered power hierarchies and discrimination, experience poverty differently from poor men. During the participatory research, women often emphasised that everyone—female and male, young and old—suffers as a result of poverty. They went on to describe the particular ways in which their caring roles (especially providing for children) placed additional burdens—both emotional and material—on them. Women in some sites also described the pressures on men to fulfil socially prescribed roles as providers for the family, even when work was unavailable. The value of standpoint theory is in the recognition that how one is socially situated shapes one’s experience and realities. If measures of poverty are expert-driven, they cannot illuminate the ways in which poor women experience poverty; nor can they provide the information necessary to respond to the social situations of the most deprived members of society.

The Individual, the Social and Intersectionality A novel and fundamentally important feature of the IDM is that it uses the individual, not the household, as the unit of analysis. Most poverty data are collected at household level, often by surveying the (usually male) head of household. Standpoint theory teaches us that such an approach will reflect the social situation of the head of household, but

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not necessarily that of other household members. This is particularly the case when the gendered division of roles and responsibilities leads to women and men spending much of their time in separate spaces. Feminist researchers have long challenged the idea of the household as a site of pooled resources. Measuring at household level makes unjustifiable assumptions about the nature of resource allocation, as well as potentially problematic assumptions about the social group that is the most appropriate focus of analysis if poverty is to be understood. In measuring deprivation at the individual level, the IDM allows for analysis of the level of deprivation experienced by individuals with shared characteristics, and for identification of the dimensions in which those individuals experience deprivation. Importantly, however, the IDM enables analysis that goes beyond an ‘additive’ approach, to deepen understanding of the relationship between social identities and poverty. In measuring at the individual level and then analysing the data according to various social characteristics or identities (i.e. gender, age, geographic location, disability status), the IDM has the potential to reveal the nuance of intersectionality in ways that are significant for policy. In moving beyond the assessment of basic needs and access to basic services, and including dimensions such as voice, relationships and time-use, the IDM seeks to illuminate not only material deprivation, but also the social and relational nature of poverty—and the ways in which social divisions contribute to and exacerbate multidimensional poverty.

Impact The complex and divergent ways in which women and men experience poverty indicate the urgent need for better measures of poverty, which are sensitive to gender. Feminist research into women’s and men’s experiences of poverty, and its identification of the structural inequalities involved, underpins the IDM and has enabled the rethinking of how we measure poverty. In doing so, the IDM seeks to overcome the shortcomings that characterise many existing measures.


Sharon Bessell

The IDM has the potential to make a significant impact in two spheres of policy-making: local and global. Locally, within nations or at sub-national level, the IDM provides policymakers with information not only on the percentage of the population that lives above or below an income- or consumption-based poverty line, but with the detail and nuance that is required for the development of effective policies and interventions. For example, the IDM is able to identify the specific social groups that are experiencing deprivation in specific dimensions (such as the absence of health care or family planning, or excessive time burdens), as well as identifying how deprivations overlap to deepen the experience of poverty. The IDM also addresses problematic assumptions that are often associated with unidimensional assessments of poverty. For example, the IDM overcomes the problem of measuring income but failing to recognise the exploitative nature of work or excessive time burdens, discussed earlier. The IDM dimension of work includes an assessment of whether work is undertaken in conditions that are hazardous or undermine an individual’s dignity. At the global level, the IDM has the potential to address some of the gaps making it difficult to measure the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly those relating to ending poverty (Goal 1) and achieving gender equality (Goal 5). Importantly, the IDM advances the ability to measure progress towards the global goal of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. Gender innovations such as the IDM have the potential to contribute to a rethinking of poverty measurement, with fundamentally important implications for policy. Acknowledgements The original IDM research was funded by ARC Linkage LP0989385; the current IDM Program is a partnership between The Australian National University and the International Women’s Development Agency with funding from the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. My thanks to the ANU IDM team, especially Janet Hunt, and to Jo Crawford for feedback.

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Key Readings Agarwal, Bina. 1997. ‘“Bargaining” and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household’. Feminist Economics 3(1): 1–51. Bessell, Sharon. 2015. ‘The Individual Deprivation Measure: Measuring Poverty as if Gender and Inequality Matter’. Gender & Development 23(2): 223–40. Boserup, Ester. 1970. Woman’s Role in Economic Development. London: George Allen & Unwin. Jaggar, Alison M. 2004. ‘Feminist Politics and Epistemology: The Standpoint of Women’. In The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies, edited by Sandra G. Harding, 55–66. New York: Routledge. Kabeer, Naila. 2005. ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Critical Analysis of the Third Millennium Development Goal 1’. Gender & Development 13(1): 13–24. UN Women. 2015. Monitoring Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Opportunities and Challenges. New York: UN Women.

Part VI Sociology

15 Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment Anne Junor

Abstract A prime reason for the lack of progress on gender pay equity is the under-recognition of skills in gender-segregated jobs in rapidly growing service economies. Approaches to skill recognition that are based on qualifications, work value cases and job evaluation, and are focused on physical or perhaps mental labour, overlook the skills needed in technology-based clerical work, care work and interactive frontline service jobs. These skills are mainly used by women and have been taken for granted as ‘natural’ feminine attributes. Feminists have argued since the 1980s that skill is socially constructed and the concept of ‘emotional labour’ has entered academic and popular discourse to describe work historically seen as unskilled. Gender-equitable work value claims and job evaluation systems recognise the skills of emotional labour.

Anne Junor (B) UNSW Sydney, Kensington, NSW, Australia e-mail: [email protected] UNSW Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Anne Junor

Keywords Emotional labour · Work value · Skill recognition · Gender equity

The Issue: Securing Gender Pay Equity by Recognising and Valuing the Skills in Women’s Jobs In the twenty-first century, every OECD country continues to have a gender pay gap, despite decades of commitment to ‘equal pay’. The ILO Equal Remuneration Convention 100 was ratified in Anglophone countries other than the United States between 1971 and 1983. The Australian national industrial relations tribunal ruled in 1969 that there should be equal pay for equal work and in 1972 extended the principle to equal pay for work of equal value. In 1974, it extended the minimum wage to women. Nevertheless, in 1978, Mary Gaudron, the first female Justice of the High Court of Australia commented: ‘We got equal pay once, and then we got it again, and then we got it again, and now we still don’t have it’. Her comment is still true another 40 years on. A major reason for ongoing pay inequity is the unresolved issue of defining and valuing the new types of skill required in the service economy where since the early 1980s most job growth has occurred and where women’s employment is concentrated. In Australia, as elsewhere, approaches to pay-setting, whether based on work value cases or job evaluation practices, have continued to focus primarily on measuring and valuing the technical, physical labour skills of workers and the mental labour skills attributed to managers. Taken for granted have been the less visible skills used particularly by women in rapidly changing technology-based clerical work, in social, community and care work, and in interactive frontline retail and hospitality jobs. The skills involved in these service jobs have been cast as ‘natural’ feminine attributes, or as ‘everyday accomplishments’, acquired through living in the family and the community as a woman. Yet the rise of the service economy has meant an increased requirement for skills of communication, coordinating, problem-solving, judgment, contextual understanding and complex multi-tasking. Since the 1980s, there has

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been a growing recognition that service jobs can no longer be defined by task lists: instead, they are role- and relationship-based. Approaches to recognising the skills of service work are still under debate. Feminists have argued that without recognition of the extent, intensity and/or criticality of the skill demands of a job, fair and accurate valuation is not possible. Yet recognition can be impeded by the invisibility of service skills. This invisibility has a range of causes. In some service jobs, it may be necessary to hide skilful interventions behind a veil of diplomacy—for example, the skills involved in managing a difficult boss or client, or in fostering a learner’s or care recipient’s sense of independence. The more visible some aspects of a job, the less expertly they are being performed. Alternatively, there may be no terminology to capture and define fleeting and nuanced interactions and subtle behaviours that workers themselves have internalised as ‘second nature’. Or the skills may have been under-defined and undercodified, wrongly essentialised as ‘natural’ attributes like ‘sparkling personality’, or crammed into a portmanteau term that needs to be unpacked. Even the term ‘emotional labour’ is a portmanteau term. It covers many historically undervalued skills, including those used in unobtrusively guiding others, interweaving work processes, using nonverbal communication and managing relationships and contingencies. Nevertheless, the concept of emotional labour represents a major advance in identifying gendered service skills.

Feminist Interventions In the 1980s, feminists began arguing that skill is socially constructed and indeed ‘man-made’. In Australia, Clare Burton, with Raven Hag and Gay Thompson, drew attention to the higher value placed on financial responsibility compared with responsibility for life and death; on managing and controlling people compared with caring for them; and on working with machines compared with working with people. They showed how the language of job descriptions can make women and their skills disappear. They cited examples such as the use of vague and passive terms for women’s jobs: ‘the incumbent’; ‘displays tact’; ‘works largely


Anne Junor

unsupervised’; ‘supports’, and compared these terms with parallel terms used in describing men’s jobs, such as ‘the technician’; ‘has a good deal of freedom to act’; ‘coordinates’. The effect, they argued, was to render invisible many of the skills required to perform the jobs predominantly held by women. The question then became how to bring such invisible skills to light. A groundbreaking step in the identification of gendered skill had occurred in 1983, when American sociologist Arlie Hochschild published The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. This study introduced the concept of emotional labour. In fact, Hochschild’s main purpose was not to secure recognition of feminised skills: this application of her work came later. Rather, in the context of the rise of neoliberalism and its attendant culture of enterprise and customer sovereignty, Hochschild’s purpose was to document the alienation experienced, for example, by flight attendants and debt collectors. Such workers were required to display constant and heightened levels of pleasantness or unpleasantness in order to influence customers’ feelings and behaviour. Hochschild identified the alienating effect of translating the sort of skilled emotion management that might be used in interactions with family and friends, into the type of employer-managed emotional labour now required in the workplace. She emphasised the cost to workers’ sense of self and mental well-being entailed in constantly producing an emotional state in others in order to create profit. She argued that service workers may be obliged to undertake ‘deep acting’, working on themselves in order to generate the feelings they must display to, and elicit in, customers. In the United Kingdom (UK), Hochschild’s analysis was taken up by labour process theorists, who seized on the alienation and control elements of her analysis in order to characterise the new types of work that were emerging in the 1990s in frontline service jobs. These theorists welded the concept of emotional labour to Harry Braverman’s 1974 ‘deskilling’ thesis, in order to argue that managerial control had become increasingly invasive as evidenced, for example, in the scripting and surveillance of some call-centre work. This line of analysis tended to link the concept of ‘deskilled’ (managerially controlled) work processes with the concept of ‘unskilled’ or ‘low-skilled’ workers. It argued that

15 Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment


highly controlled, repetitive jobs should not be romanticised by claiming that they involve skills, and that the concept of skill should be reserved for technical proficiency and not diluted by applying it to everyday capacities. Critiquing this line of argument, Sharon Bolton (2005) proposed a more nuanced understanding of various types of ‘skilled emotion management’ in the service sector. She argued that Hochschild’s concept of emotional labour overstates organisations’ control over their employees’ subjectivity. Employees decide the extent to which they embrace their role: they can shift among various identities and create spaces for genuine interaction. Bolton voiced concern that to deny the skills of emotion work is to mis-characterise these skills as personality or character traits, as ‘natural’ qualities suitable for ‘women’s work’. She argued that even if skills were originally learned in the household or community, there is a qualitative difference in their utilisation when applied in workplace settings. Hampson and Junor (2010) agreed that much emotion work is skilled, but argued that Bolton’s typology of skilled emotion management risks ignoring other types of skilful interactions in service sector workplaces. Following Anselm Strauss (1988), they used the term ‘articulation work’1 to describe skills such as attentiveness to contexts and consequences, and capacity for coordinating work processes and managing contingencies. Meanwhile, a separate avenue of response to Hochschild’s concept of emotional labour emerged in the United States and Canada. By the late 1980s, Ronnie Steinberg and co-researchers were making innovative, rigorous use of the concept of emotional labour to itemise gendered skills in successful comparable worth/equal pay claims. In 1990, Steinberg wrote an influential article on the ‘social construction of skill’, pointing to the gender bias that had led, for example, to a higher valuation of work with budgets than of work with welfare clients. Invoking Hochschild, she argued that while the emotional labour skills of clerical workers might be poorly compensated, the technical skills deployed in working with new information technology were also being under-recognised. In the second half of the 1980s, Steinberg was among the North American pay equity practitioners who specifically argued that emotional labour was invisible and hence undervalued in


Anne Junor

wage and salary determination. Like Canadian, Australian and New Zealand practitioners, Steinberg argued that proprietary off-the-shelf job evaluation systems, developed before the emergence of the service sector, were gender-biased, and that only cosmetic changes had been made to them in response to pay equity initiatives. Client-oriented service work remained undervalued.

Impact Overall, the concept of emotional labour has provided a particularly robust foundation for the quest for gender pay equity over the 35 years that followed the release of Hochschild’s groundbreaking 1983 study. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand pay equity practitioners and activists worked with their US colleagues inside and outside government and judicial systems to develop approaches to pay equity. In 1987, the Ontario Government enacted an Equal Pay Act that specifically required gender neutrality in job evaluation systems. In 1990, the Ontario Nurses’ Association took a claim to the Pay Equity Tribunal on behalf of registered nurses, arguing there was gender bias in the job evaluation system a particular municipality was seeking to implement. Steinberg and co-researchers were retained and the case was won, resulting in a brief to design a Gender Neutral Job Evaluation System—one that ensured that the standard factors of skill, effort, responsibility and conditions of work were all measured in a genderneutral way. The resulting system was designed in such a way that: aspects of emotional labour were included in the human relations and communications skill factors; emotional effort was included in the effort factors; and the responsibility factor captured responsibility for the well-being of those whose emotions and actions are being managed. In Australia in 1998, a NSW Pay Equity Inquiry focused on the problematic nature of an existing requirement within the industrial relations system: in order to establish that women were paid unequally in a gender-segregated labour market, it was necessary to compare the rates afforded to very different types of jobs, requiring different types of skill,

15 Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment


yet there was a limited range of skill requirements in male-dominated jobs with which to compare the intensive demand for emotional labour skills in female-dominated service jobs. The NSW Pay Equity Inquiry analysed substantial evidence gathered through site visits. It led the NSW industrial tribunal in 2000 to establish a new Equal Remuneration Principle,2 that established the sufficiency of demonstrating that the skill and other demands of predominantly female jobs had historically been undervalued without the need to prove discrimination or find a male comparator. This Principle was further developed in a Queensland state case and flowed on to other state jurisdictions. Unfortunately, it has transpired that when all industrial relations matters relating to corporations were shifted to the federal jurisdiction under the new federal Fair Work Act 2009, an Equal Remuneration Principle was not carried over into the national arena. The 2010–2012 Australian Social and Community Services (SACS) Equal Remuneration Case tested the historical undervaluation approach in the new federal system. Among the wealth of evidence tendered, was a systematic analysis of the gendered skills of care work. This analysis was built on the concept of emotional labour. The tribunal accepted that the work was undervalued, and granted phased-in pay increases of up to 45%. But in doing so, it introduced a new barrier to future claims of historical undervaluation in the federal jurisdiction. The tribunal insisted that in quantifying the remedy, the exact proportion of undervaluation attributable to gender should be itemised, failing to recognise the pervasive systemic effect of gender. In this case, the proportion of caring activities in a job was accepted as a gender proxy. But a further case begun in 2013, seeking equitable remuneration for early childhood workers, was baulked by a ruling that the Fair Work Act 2009 requires proof that a group of male workers doing comparable work are being paid a higher award wage. In a sex-segregated labour market, however, there may be no similar predominantly male occupations heavily reliant on the skills required in performing emotional labour. Steinberg and other North American practitioners had already solved the problem of quantifying dissimilar skills. The solution was to move away from comparing concrete work activities, and instead to assign an agreed system of factors and points to dissimilar work and compare the


Anne Junor

results. Unfortunately, however, this evaluation approach is not available in Australia’s national industrial relations system, because a decision in an earlier 1986 Australian federal Nurses Case ruled against it. There is thus unfinished business: efforts to re-value the emotional labour component of women’s work continue, albeit not at present in the national tribunal. Nevertheless, the 2012 Australian Standard for Gender-Inclusive Job Evaluation and Grading3 sets out a methodology for valuing gendered skills, including those of emotional labour, and as explained below, in 2019, this methodology succeeded in a NSW case. Progress in recognising the skills of emotional labour was made in New Zealand between 1999 and 2008 under Helen Clark’s government. This work was overseen by a Pay and Employment Equity Unit, headed by Australian Philippa Hall, who had previously contributed to the NSW Pay Equity Inquiry. A key focus of the New Zealand approach was capacity-building: ‘making pay equity ordinary’ by transferring it from the realm of esoteric expertise and giving people in workplaces tools for valuing women’s work skills, such as an Equitable Job Evaluation system,4 and a Gender-Inclusive Job Evaluation Standard.5 A component of the New Zealand system is the Spotlight job analysis tool,6 a taxonomy which ‘unpacks’ the concept of emotional labour. Since the 2017 election of the Ardern government, efforts to recognise gendered skills have resumed. In 2017, care workers7 won a pay equity claim, followed in 2018 by education support workers.8 Meanwhile in Australia, the concept of historically undervalued skills in feminised service occupations lives on in the state-level tribunals which still regulate the pay of some public sector workers. In NSW in September 2019, it received a strong re-affirmation. A 94% female workforce of 17,500 public school Administrative and Learning Support workers won a 19% pay increase. Of this increase, 11% was awarded specifically to redress gender-based undervaluation.9 This case was settled by consent. Part of the evidence considered was a Spotlight job analysis of the use of hitherto invisible skills, unpacking the concept of emotional labour.

15 Emotional Labour: Valuing Skills in Service Sector Employment


Fig. 15.1 Skills used in service jobs have been cast as ‘natural’ feminine attributes, or as ‘everyday accomplishments’ (Source Adobe Stock Photo)

A major aspect of the original concept of emotional labour was a focus on the alienation and job stress experienced by workers required to undertake intensive ‘deep’ acting in order to manage the emotions of others. In the UK, this linking of invasive emotional control was coupled in an unfortunate way with perceptions of low skill. This pessimistic view has been contested and the agency of workers undertaking skilled emotion management reaffirmed. North American and antipodean scholars and practitioners, such as Steinberg, have used the concept of emotional labour as a starting point for identifying and claiming the value of a range of under-defined, under-codified and under-recognised skills in predominantly female service work. Arguably, the wide range of skills at present covered by the portmanteau term ‘emotional labour’ needs to be further unpacked, so that the awareness, interactive and coordinating skills used in service work are fairly rewarded (Fig. 15.1).


Anne Junor

Notes 1. contents. 2. 3. mb-020/as--5376-2012. 4. equitable-job-evaluation/. 5. gender-job-evaluation-standard/. 6. spotlight-skills-recognition-tool/. 7. 8. 9.

Key Readings Bolton, Sharon. 2005. Emotion Management in the Workplace. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Burton, Clare, with Raven Hag and Gay Thompson. 1987. Women’s Worth: Pay Equity and Job Evaluation in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Hampson, Ian and Anne Junor. 2010. ‘Putting the Process Back In: Rethinking Service Sector Skill’. Work, Employment and Society 24(3): 526–45. Hochschild, Arlie. 1983. The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press. Steinberg, Ronnie J. 1990. ‘Social Construction of Skill: Gender, Power and Comparable Worth’. Work and Occupations 17(4): 449–82.

16 Smoking as a Gendered Activity Helen Keane

Abstract The role and meaning of smoking in women’s lives remained unexplored until feminist researchers began to examine the issue in the 1980s. When gender differences were considered in smoking research, male practices were viewed as the norm; female patterns as deviations resulting from presumed sex differences in biology and psychology. In contrast, the tobacco industry paid careful attention to women’s desires and ambitions. Feminist research has been innovative in its consideration of the cultural and social locations of smoking and in its recognition of the key role of power relations in shaping social geographies of smoking. Moreover, feminist analysis of the visual culture of smoking incorporates an understanding of consumption as a key site of identity formation in modern and late modern consumer societies. Keywords Smoking · Tobacco · Health · Gender · Women Helen Keane (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Helen Keane

The Issue: The Social Role and Meaning of Smoking Smoking is one of the major public health issues that has been productively addressed by feminist social science research. Understanding smoking as a gendered practice has provided an important corrective to the dominant approach to smoking as an individual behaviour explicable primarily through a medical model of addiction. The role and meaning of smoking in women’s lives remained unexplored until feminist writers and researchers began to examine the issue in the 1980s. As they argued, smoking research tended to assume that men’s and women’s smoking had the same causes and meanings. Women’s particular struggles with smoking cessation were ignored. When differences were considered, male patterns and practices were viewed as the norm; female patterns as deviations from the norm resulting from presumed sex differences in biology and psychology. In contrast, the tobacco industry paid careful attention to women’s desires and ambitions, employing themes of sophistication, liberation and autonomy to market cigarettes to women. One notable exception to the gender blindness of tobacco research and control was the focus on women’s reproductive role which constituted the female smoker primarily as a threat to infant and child health. Understanding the relationship between health-related practices and gender has demanded both conceptual and methodological innovation. Traditionally, medical and health-related social science research has focused on ‘sex’ as a binary variable, with gender treated simply as an effect of this universal biological dichotomy. In this approach, sex and gender are understood as attributes of individuals. Feminist health research has challenged these assumptions by demonstrating the entanglement of sex, gender and other forms of difference, by refiguring gender as a set of social relations, and by investigating lived experiences of health and illness within specific social locations. Patterns of smoking are gendered, both historically and in the present. Gender differences are seen in patterns of uptake, in prevalence rates and in levels of consumption. In Western countries, women adopted the use

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of cigarettes later than men, and their use generally peaked at lower rates. However, the gender gap in smoking in these countries has narrowed as smoking declined over the twentieth century, while class differences have widened. In the 1980s, young girls in several industrialised countries took up smoking at higher rates than their male peers. These gendered patterns are highlighted in the influential cigarette epidemic model proposed by epidemiologists in the 1990s. The model suggests four successive stages of tobacco use as the practice develops within a population: (1) low rates for men and women but men increasing cigarette use; (2) sharp increase in smoking among men while women gradually increase use; (3) men’s smoking rates peak and begin to decline, women’s smoking begins to decrease but at a slower rate; (4) decline in both men and women’s smoking continues and smoking rates become almost equal. While the four-stage model is often used to forecast global smoking trends, on the assumption that all countries will follow the pattern of Western Europe, North America and Australia, it is not clear that this assumption is warranted given the multiple factors that influence smoking patterns, including policy interventions. The most recent WHO report on global tobacco trends has shown declines in smoking rates in most regions of the world since 2000, although global inequality persists. The declines have been seen in both male and female smoking rates, and smoking remains significantly less common among women than among men. Despite these clear gender differences in smoking and evidence of the impact of the practice on women’s health, women’s smoking has been considered secondary to men’s smoking and has remained underresearched. While prevalence data on women’s smoking is collected in many countries, the information available globally is inconsistent and difficult to compare. Negative attitudes towards women and girls smoking can be an obstacle to data collection. In what follows, I briefly outline key contributions of the feminist sociological and cultural research into women’s smoking, highlighting the insights that have been produced through the adoption of a gender lens. I conclude by discussing the impact of this research on smoking research in general.


Helen Keane

Feminist Interventions Smoking and Gendered Oppression The Ladykillers: Why Smoking Is a Feminist Issue published by Bobbie Jacobson in 1981 was the first text to explicitly explore women’s smoking from a feminist perspective. Jacobson was a journalist and former deputy director of the UK organisation Action on Smoking and Health who carried out interviews with women smokers to answer the question ‘why do women smoke?’. She argued that nicotine addiction and psychological factors could not explain the reasons why female smokers continued despite awareness of the health risks. Instead she suggested that experts should listen to women who consistently spoke of their emotional attachment to smoking and their use of smoking to suppress expressions of anger, hostility and frustration as they dealt with the stress of multiple roles and the requirement to be ‘nice’. The smokers interviewed by Jacobson feared that giving up smoking would result in a loss of control over their socially unacceptable emotions (as well as their control over their weight and sexual desirability). Jacobson thus presented women’s dependence on cigarettes as a reflection of their social and economic subordination. Women were exploited by both tobacco companies and patriarchal society which worked together to keep them smoking. More recent sociological research has produced a more nuanced and empirically supported analysis which understands women’s smoking both as a disciplinary practice of femininity and as an important route to selfdefinition within gendered relations of power. In her book Smoke Screen: Women’s Smoking and Social Control, Canadian sociologist Lorraine Greaves is explicitly critical of the constitution of women as passive victims, either duped by advertising or driven to smoke as a direct result of their treatment in the world. The women interviewed in her study spoke of the value of cigarettes, their role in social life, the comfort and routine they provide and even the protection they can offer in violent situations (one woman found her abusive husband would not hit her if she had a cigarette in her hand). Greaves argues that a theory of women’s smoking must also consider smoking as an active and adaptive response to the world, albeit a self-destructive one.

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Intersections of Gender and Class UK sociologist Hilary Graham’s research has built productively on the idea that smoking has uses for women, and furthered this insight by placing social inequality at the centre of the picture. Her qualitative study of low-income mothers with pre-school children was ground-breaking in its analysis of smoking as part of a gendered division of labour and a daily pattern of caring in the context of poverty. Graham found that the women’s work days (and nights) were long and focused on their children’s and partner’s needs and demands. Smoking provided a way of structuring time and containing domestic responsibilities, allowing short moments of self-directed adult activity that were both materially and symbolically significant. In contrast to other forms of leisure and escape, cigarettes were instantly accessible and (at the time) relatively affordable. Graham concludes that for these women, smoking was a resource essential to their ability to cope with the grind of everyday life, a matter of survival in spite of its link with disease and premature death. In more recent work Graham has developed a detailed structural analysis of inequality and smoking in Britain, drawing on a survey of women caring for young children in manual households. By combining this data with government household income and composition data, her study found that being a smoker was linked to the experience of greater disadvantage within social hierarchies of gender and class. Moreover this link had strengthened during a time of increasing income inequality. It was among women in unskilled households that smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption had declined least since the 1970s. Heavier caring responsibilities were also associated with higher smoking prevalence; lone mothers and women with children with behavioural and emotional problems showed particularly high rates. As well as illuminating the intersections of smoking, gender and class, this work has enabled Graham to question the dominant health promotion approach to smoking. In her article ‘Smoking, Stigma and Social Class’, she argues that: • Tobacco control policies should engage directly with social inequalities rather than focusing on smoking behaviour.


Helen Keane

• Tobacco control policies should be assessed for their impact on inequity, including the exacerbation of stigma which takes highly gendered and classed forms.

In addition, she highlights a changing cultural landscape of class in which embodied differences such as body shape and health behaviours become key indicators of both economic status and moral worth.

Smoking, Reproduction and the Female Body In the 1970s, the pregnant smoker became a highly visible target of health campaigns. A 1973 image from a UK campaign showed a naked pregnant woman smoking with the caption ‘Is it fair to force your baby to smoke cigarettes?’ Given the general lack of attention to women’s smoking, it seemed that women’s health practices were of social concern only when their actions were viewed as harmful to others. Feminist analyses have highlighted the way the pregnant smoker as problem subject was shaped by the rise of the new public health which produced health as an individual responsibility and project of self-improvement. The management of risk became an obligatory aspect of healthy citizenship and pregnant women’s behaviour came under intense surveillance as a source of risk to foetal health. Thus public health became focused on regulating pregnant women and mothers, reproducing traditional discourses about selflessness, purity and sacrifice as essential elements of virtuous motherhood. Moreover, the depiction of foetuses as vulnerable yet autonomous subjects in anti-smoking campaigns was consistent with anti-abortion discourse and presented women as adversaries of their babies-to-be whose choices should be constrained (and punished) in the name of health. More broadly, the feminist research on the pregnant body as target of disciplinary power, both medical and legal, highlights the importance of a critical understanding of ideals of health. This suggests that the recognition of women’s smoking as a profound threat to well-being should not obscure attention to the politics and ethics of health promotion.

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Smoking, Modernity and Visual Culture Feminist historical research has explored the ‘feminisation’ of smoking that occurred in Western countries between the 1880s and 1980s, linking it to social, political, economic, technological and cultural changes. A focus on visual culture has illuminated the meanings of smoking and their relationship with ideas about femininity, modernity, sexuality and respectability. Research carried out by UK sociologist Penny Tinkler reveals that the history of women’s smoking in the twentieth century is a history of the visual construction of feminine identities—not only by the tobacco industry and various forms of media, but by women themselves. She highlights three main ways visual themes operate in the history of women’s smoking: (1) shifts in the public visibility of women smoking; (2) smoking practices were used by women as visual statements about status and identity and (3) visual images of women became more prominent (in media, advertising and health campaigns). This work traces the rise of smoking as a signifier of modern femininity, enmeshed with the broader practices of ‘looking and being looked at’ that women became schooled in during the twentieth century. In particular, cigarette advertisements (as well as representations in popular culture) linked emancipation with slimness, and promoted smoking as the route to both. However, as well as exploring the role of advertising and media in constituting smoking as a feminine practice, the female smoker is also considered an active agent who employs smoking in her own project of self-presentation. This includes attention to the pleasure women found in smoking, challenging the construction of women as purely victims of external forces. Another important point raised by feminist researchers is that anti-smoking campaigns have frequently reproduced a similar gendered imperative of heterosexual attractiveness to that deployed in cigarette advertisements. Tobacco control campaigns aimed at young women have emphasised smoking as ‘ugly-making’ and ageing, thereby entrenching the idea that female embodiment is primarily about looking good. Thus despite their opposite aims, cigarette advertising and public health produce a stereotypical and narrow vision of successful femininity.


Helen Keane

Impact One of the potentially most important impacts of feminist research in smoking is its capacity to complicate the account of gender empowerment and smoking that is dominant in models of global smoking take-up. Gender empowerment (measured by economic and political participation) and smoking has been shown to be positively correlated at a national level, suggesting that as a country moves towards gender equality, female smoking rates will increase. This has led to headlines such as ‘Female empowerment is great – Except when it comes to smoking’ (Time magazine). Feminist researchers have shown that this account of equality obscures issues of equity revealed through an analysis which looks at the interactions between gender and class (as well as race, ethnicity, sexuality and age). They have pointed out that while the link between smoking uptake and women’s status may be able to explain smoking initiation, the gender equality hypothesis cannot explain smoking patterns once diffusion has occurred (as in high-income countries). Moreover, there are multiple factors such as globalisation, urbanisation and income distribution which influence smoking. Feminist research has also been innovative in its consideration of the cultural and social locations of smoking. The appreciation of smoking as a social practice rather than simply an individual behaviour (or physiological addiction) has been promoted by the qualitative research on the meanings and uses of smoking in women’s lives. This has led to a growing recognition of the need for tobacco control research and practice to understand the social context of smoking, including the key role of power relations in shaping social geographies of smoking. Moreover, feminist research has contributed to a broadening of the concept of the social in tobacco research. For example, the analysis of the visual culture of smoking incorporates an understanding of consumption as a key site of identity formation in modern and late modern consumer societies. This has undermined the simplistic notion of the passive consumer who simply absorbs advertising messages such as those which equate smoking with glamour, fun and romance.

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Key Readings Graham, Hilary. 1993. When Life’s a Drag: Women, Smoking and Disadvantage. London: HM Stationery Office. Graham, Hilary. 2012. ‘Smoking, Stigma and Social Class’. Journal of Social Policy 41(1): 83–99. Greaves, Lorraine. 1996. Smoke Screen: Women’s Smoking and Social Control. London: Scarlet Press. Jacobson, Bobbie. 1982. The Ladykillers: Why Smoking Is a Feminist Issue. London: Pluto Press. Oaks, Laury. 2000. ‘Smoke-Filled Wombs and Fragile Fetuses: The Social Politics of Fetal Representation’. Signs 26(1): 63–108. Tinkler, Penny. 2006. Smoke Signals: Women, Smoking and Visual Culture in Britain. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

17 Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk in Southern Africa: The Role of Men’s Organisations Kylah Forbes-Biggs

Abstract Gender inequality has been a pervasive problem in Southern Africa. It challenges development and welfare, dissuades good governance practices and entrenches social vulnerabilities that contribute to increased disaster and climate risk. The decisive shift towards focusing on women and girls not only in development but also in disaster risk management has been successful in bringing critical issues to the fore at national and international levels. Yet it can overlook the needs of men and boys and hence forego opportunities for more inclusive discussion and collaboration. The case is being made in Southern Africa to involve men’s organisations in promoting social justice. Creating spaces for dialogue in this way will promote understanding of gendered vulnerability and disaster risk. Keywords Men’s organisations · Gender inequality · Vulnerability · Disaster risk · Open dialogue · Southern Africa Kylah Forbes-Biggs (B) Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Kylah Forbes-Biggs

The Issue: How Gender Inequality Contributes to Disaster Risk In an effort to protect populations, scientists and researchers have endeavoured for decades to understand the causes of disaster. By definition, disasters are considered to result from the impact of a hazard on a population. While initial approaches to dealing with disasters were responsive and driven by militaristic approaches, their reactive nature failed to prevent losses to life or property. These losses served as a catalyst for the emergence of a new approach, involving greater understanding of how disasters occur. Through the development of this work, ideas around differential impact, social vulnerability, capacity and hazard exposure began to emerge as part of popular discussions within the disaster management community. The notion that disasters are social phenomena challenged the traditional hazard-focused ideologies in which disasters are perceived to be acts of nature. A concomitant examination of human systems and their role in shaping disaster-related risk also emerged. Disaster research has now evolved towards general recognition that social structures shape the lives of individuals and, moreover, influence their ability to withstand adversity. In particular, the social structures that ascribe gender roles define the lived experiences of men and women and subsequently shape how they experience disaster risk. The application of a gender lens has challenged the popular hazard-based paradigm which regards disaster causation as a genderneutral, triggered event. This new conceptualisation has suggested that experiences of disaster risk are based on existing structures and patterns of power. The question that emerges is to mitigate and avert disaster by shifting patterns of gender inequality. Pervasive gender inequality challenges development and welfare, dissuades good governance practices and entrenches social vulnerability. All of these factors separately contribute to increased disaster and climate risk and collectively exacerbate such risk. Ideologies of patriarchy and colonialism have served to shape a culture of gender inequality in Southern Africa. The effects of inequality have permeated the fabric of society across generations; they are evident in discrimination, unequal access to resources (ownership of land, custody of children) and strictly

17 Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk …


defined gender roles. Boys become men through reward as well as sanction. Traditional gender roles ascribe powerful positions in Black Southern African society to men. This power has been vested and entrenched across generations through patriarchal laws that prioritise men and grant them leadership as fathers and husbands, and as elders and tribal chiefs. Great respect is traditionally paid to African warriors who play heroic roles, such as fighting battles and defending kingdoms, and who own herds of cattle and father numerous children from multiple wives. This contrasts starkly with the roles ascribed to Black women in Southern Africa, that emphasise service to the family with significant domestic caregiving, food preparation, cleaning and childrearing responsibilities. Seldom are the imbalances of power more evident than in the context of disasters, where differential impacts on men, women, boys and girls have been widely documented. Despite progressive legislation that seeks to address gender equality in countries like South Africa and Malawi, the benefits fail to be actualised at community and household levels. The deficiencies at local level suggest that this should be the focal point for encouraging and enacting meaningful change. In a region which already has a history of severe hazard impact, the threat of climate-related hazards is particularly ominous and urgent.

Feminist Interventions In response to the widening span of issues derived from inequality, there has been a decisive shift towards focusing on women and girls not only in development but also in disaster risk management. The Women in Development (WID) approach, as this is known, initially improved the visibility of women’s issues in the public sphere. It failed however, to present long-term solutions for maintaining their presence. Although the shift has been successful in bringing critical issues to the fore at national and international levels, it has been less effective in acknowledging local nuances regarding the interactions of men and women and how these interactions at the local level can mitigate the risk posed by increased vulnerability and hazards. The focus on women


Kylah Forbes-Biggs

and girls can overlook the needs of men and boys and hence forego opportunities for more inclusive discussion and collaboration to mitigate risk. The shift to a Gender and Development (GAD) approach has arisen from recognition of these issues, emphasising the need to examine underlying power relations between men and women as the foundation for creating sustainable impact. The influence of feminist theory underpinned the gradual emergence of ‘gender and disasters’, as a sub-discipline within disaster research. The approach, which evolved from the analysis of gender in shaping power and access within a development context, was extended to analyse how gender influences one’s ability to prepare for, respond to and rebuild after hazard impact. Such analysis served as a lens for the examination of disaster impact and as a basis for the extrapolation of how gender roles shape the differential experiences of men and women. It became apparent that efforts to understand the dynamics of disasters and to further the goals of reducing risk, required that this gendered knowledge be applied within planning and praxis. For example, the gendered division of labour—time spent on unpaid labour and the social isolation caused by domestic caregiving for dependents (the elderly, children, the disabled and the ill)—ultimately contributes to women’s increased vulnerability. However gender roles and the conventions of masculinity can also affect the safety of men and boys in disaster. For example, the bravado of men attempting to repair structural damage during hurricanes, or the refusal of men to heed warnings and receive direction from female disaster response personnel, compromises their safety. Since 2009, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has been addressing the fact that climate change and natural disasters disproportionately impact women, culminating in a General Recommendation1 on women’s rights and disaster risk reduction, issued in 2018. Studies indicate that in many instances, women carry the most severe impact in disasters, bearing the greater proportion of psychological and physical scars. Notwithstanding knowledge of this impact, women are still overlooked and excluded from discussions and decision-making on risk reduction and their potential contribution is often ignored. In an attempt to counter such exclusion, traditional efforts to support gender equality have placed a primary focus on improving the lives of women and girls by only engaging

17 Applying a Gender Lens to Reduce Disaster Risk …


women and girls. However, as noted above, this approach fails to acknowledge the interdependence of women and men in society and the interrelationships between and among males as a collective. The involvement of men’s organisations in addressing the underlying issues surrounding gender inequality and power imbalances must be part of the solution. This approach is supported by empirical data gathered through the Integrating Adolescent Girls in Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction in Southern Africa (IAG) Project2 which piloted capacity building initiatives for young women in Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2012–2013. The inclusion of boys in the Zambia locality indicated that men and boys need to be involved in disaster risk reduction if there is to be sustainable and lasting change for girls and women. What should be considered critically, however, is the way in which such discussions are framed in disaster management. Scholars such as Joyce Wu have warned of reinforcing ideas of men as saviours or of women needing rescue. The emphasis of such work should be on creating safe forums for dialogue between men and women and building partnerships rather than spurring division and antagonism. Facilitating discussion which shares diverging gender perspectives and promotes collaborative decision-making can also be valuable in moving on from expressing problems to identifying behaviour and actions that can be taken to improve welfare at individual, household and community level. Supporting women by validating the important roles they play in maintaining the family unit through childrearing, food preparation, elder care, cleaning, water collection and farming is one way to reaffirm their contributions to the household and the community. Dialogue further serves as an opportunity for men to share their beliefs and discuss the risks stemming from male gender roles and ideals of masculinity.

Impact Disaster risk is an accrual of underlying factors or root causes that contribute to the vulnerability of select populations. Power imbalances, limited ownership of resources, and restricted access to education and


Kylah Forbes-Biggs

information are elements that undermine the capacity of women to resist the effects of disaster-derived adversity. The pervasiveness of the structures underpinning gender injustice has warranted the growth of male-led organisations focusing on these issues. Some of these organisations have taken unique approaches to tackling the issues around gender roles and masculinity that have reinforced women’s vulnerability in society. For example, in 2010–2015, Father A Nation (FAN) focused on shifting the roles of women as exclusive caregivers through its Bophelong Surrogate Father Program.3 This program involved working with local men to develop positive fatherhood images through tutoring (over 1000 beneficiaries) and providing informal guardianship to vulnerable and orphaned children. A different approach was that of the Moshate organisation,4 established in 2011 to serve as a male voice within South Africa’s gender equality movement, but seeking to achieve this through support for abused men and the breaking down of male stereotypes. Other organisations, such as PADRE/Enkundleni, MWENGO, African Father’s Initiative, Men’s Forum on Gender and ZIYON, have been active in promoting reproductive health issues, and challenging gender-based violence in Zimbabwe. These efforts to advance gender and social justice work at the grassroots level and through community-based risk reduction activities that seek to unpack and promote issues of structural transformation along gender lines. Such male-led organisations have sought to forge new paths for creating dialogue among men, and between women and men at the community level. Much of their work has involved mutual engagement with issues such as sexual decision-making, family planning, domestic violence, gender roles and fatherhood. The 2005 Young Men and the Construction of Masculinity in Sub-Saharan Africa Report5 by the World Bank indicated that working with boys and young men’s organisations can be effective in promoting responsible behaviour. More evidence in support of the impacts of men’s organisations and men’s programs needs to be collected to justify scaling up interventions. Yet even based on anecdotal evidence, the activities being undertaken by men’s organisations serve as opportunities to shift attitudes that reinforce conditions of vulnerability, including disaster risk, among Southern African women. The specific cultural stereotypes of men being in control

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and not expressing emotion can create psychological distress among men when lives, property and livelihoods are lost in disasters. This distress can manifest itself in violence, excessive use of alcohol and high-risk behaviours such as unprotected sex. Men’s organisations provide safe group settings in which men can express emotions. Their activities emphasise that stronger partner relationships are a positive way of sharing life’s challenges and aim to increase a sense of responsibility among men for the negative impacts of hazards and disasters. Although more aspirational than realised in practice, the case is being made in Southern Africa for the role of men’s organisations in promoting an understanding of the impact of gender roles on the lives and risk experienced by women. In this way, men may be better able to understand the need for more equitable representation in disaster and climate change agendas. Engaging men’s organisations can be a constructive step towards confronting and rethinking the boundaries that restrict change and the authority that defines the nature of risk at community level. Acknowledgements An earlier version of this chapter was published under the title of ‘Using a Gendered Lens to Reduce Disaster and Climate Risk in Southern Africa: The Potential Leadership of Men’s Organizations’, in Men, Masculinities and Disaster, edited by Elaine Enarson and Bob Pease (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016), 186–96.

Notes 1. 2. Resource_Management/drr/drr_southern-africa_eng_fin.pdf (pp. 51– 53). 3. 4.


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5. Young-men-and-the-construction-of-masculinity-in-Sub-Saharan-Africaimplications-for-HIV-AIDS-conflict-and-violence.

Key Readings Cannon, Terry. 2002. ‘Gender and Climate Hazards in Bangladesh’. Gender and Development 10(2): 45–50. Forbes-Genade, Kylah and Dewald van Niekerk. 2017. ‘The GIRRL Program: A Human Rights Based Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction Intervention in Southern Africa’. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 24: 507– 14. Fordham, Maureen. 2012. ‘Gender, Sexuality and Disaster’. In The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction, edited by Ben Wisner, J. C. Gaillard and Ilan Kelman, 424–35. Oxon: Routledge. Sonke Gender Justice Network. 2013. Good Practice Brief on Male Involvement in Gender Based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Response in Conflict, Post-conflict and Humanitarian Crisis Settings in Sub-Saharan Africa. Johannesburg: United Nations Population Fund, Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. Wu, Joyce. 2019. Involving Men in Ending Violence Against Women: Development, Gender and VAW in Times of Conflict. New York: Routledge.

18 Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproduction Celia Roberts

Abstract In our epoch, industrial chemicals are changing the reproductive bodies of many species—birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including humans. Disrupting the hormonal flows associated with sex, sexual and caregiving behaviour and reproduction, these chemicals have potentially disastrous implications, scientists and environmentalists claim, for our shared futures. Feminist scientists and ecologists have played important roles in introducing these issues into scientific and popular debate, framing their significance as social and feminist matters of concern and building alliances with Indigenous activists and scholars working on issues of environmental justice. As a set of debates developing over several decades, this work has had impact on the international regulation of chemicals, on environmental health and justice movements and on queer and feminist theorising about sex, gender and embodiment. Celia Roberts (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Celia Roberts

Keywords Toxins · Reproduction · Hormones · Science · Biology · Activism

The Issue: Reproductive Biology in the Anthropocene Scientists claim that we are living in an epoch in which human activity is profoundly reshaping the earth’s geology and ecological systems—an epoch many call the Anthropocene. One of the most important aspects of this epoch is the effects of industrial chemicals on the hormonal flows of animal bodies. In many species—birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including humans—endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are thought to be affecting reproductive biologies with potentially disastrous implications for the future of reproduction. EDCs are inescapable and ubiquitous, emanating from, inter alia, plastics, paints, cosmetics, furnishings, hormonal medications, fertilisers and pesticides. To date, the effects of these chemicals have received less scientific and policy attention than climate change and carbon emissions. As with carbon emissions, change is thwarted by vast corporate, structural and personal investments in EDC-producing industries and resulting difficulties in regulation. EDCs affect human and non-human animal bodies in complex ways, and scientific research on them has produced divergent, often counter-intuitive results, creating difficulties in science communication and activism. Public reports of EDC-related research often focus on culturally disturbing figures: co-nesting ‘lesbian’ seagulls; crocodiles with tiny penises; fish that change sex; men with low sperm counts; boys with atypical genitals; and girls who like to play roughly. At a time in which conventional forms of sex, gender and reproduction seem to be unravelling (an unravelling associated with feminist and queer politics as well as the rise of reproductive technologies), such figures provoke ‘sex panic’; the worry that sexed bodies are not as they should be, that reproductive futures are at stake and, most importantly, that something should be done. Intellectually and politically, feminist engagement with EDCs helps to keep open the concept of the Anthropocene and to assert the

18 Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproduction


significance of reproductive health to human and non-human animal futures. Reproductive time, as many feminist scholars have argued, is different to linear or clock time. It is easy for masculinist or mainstream debates on climate change or carbon emissions to overlook the cyclical and enduring effects of anthropogenic effects on reproduction. Climate-change catastrophe narratives tend to leap from the present to human extinction without pausing to consider how the decline in human and other animal conception and birth might actually occur (arguably, science fiction does a much better job of this). As this case study shows, feminists have played a significant role in exploring, explaining and intervening in global flows of EDCs and in critically considering what these chemicals might be doing to sex, gender, sexuality and health in the Anthropocene. Queer and Indigenous scholars and activists have also made substantial contributions to these debates, highlighting problematic assumptions about sexuality and race/ethnicity that appear in both the scientific and feminist research into hormones and EDCs.

Feminist Interventions Popular Ecology Unsurprisingly, given their strong connections to sexual reproduction and sexed bodies, industrial chemicals have long been of interest to feminist scholars. As early as 1962, North American marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was a game changer for public awareness and framing of environmental issues. Documenting the connections between devastating bird loss in the United States and industrial fertilisers, and the impact of toxic chemicals on human cancer rates, Carson synthesised an unwieldy scientific literature, making powerful new connections between human and non-human animal health. Picking up this thread in the mid-1990s, feminist scientist Theo Colborn published a co-authored popular book warning that scientific and policy discussions of industrial chemicals should expand Carson’s


Celia Roberts

concerns about tetragenic (cancer-causing) effects to consider their reproductive effects. Entitled Our Stolen Future, the book made a strong argument for further research and regulatory caution in the face of uncertainty in regard to such chemicals. One year later, ecofeminist and activist Sandra Steingraber published Living Downstream, an impassioned, personal account of the toxic effects of living with EDCs. Utilising a journalistic style to explain scientific research, Steingraber highlighted the importance of precaution, in both state regulation and individual everyday practice. Written for wide readerships, all of these books rendered contemporary scientific debates comprehensible to lay audiences and made strong calls to political action. Concerned specifically with the effects of EDCs on women’s and girls’ bodies, Steingraber was more explicitly feminist in her writing than Colborn et al. or Carson, refocussing attention on human cancer. In their working lives, each of these writers built strong connections to environmentalist and/or health activist non-governmental organisations as well as to governmental and research bodies, and all have been attacked by the chemical industries for their work. Carson was deeply involved in scientific and ecological organisations and is widely credited with provoking the North American environmentalist movement that led to the establishment of the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Colborn worked directly with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on toxins, was a member of many important scientific committees and in 2003, founded her own nongovernment organisation (NGO), The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. In 2007, Steingraber was commissioned by the Breast Cancer Fund to prepare a report on the effects of EDCs on early onset puberty, and breast and reproductive system cancer. As activists and scholars, each of these women have used a variety of media (including popular books, scientific papers, film, radio and public talks) to convey their research findings and political messages, successfully bringing toxins into public debate. All have been awarded various prizes for their work. Carson’s legacy in particular is substantial: there are many prizes named after her and an NGO entitled the Silent Spring Institute.

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The toxic effects of industrial pesticides and fertilisers have also been of enormous interest to feminist scholars and activists in the Global South. Most famously, Indian philosopher and environmentalist, Vandana Shiva has situated the use of pesticides within a complex picture of gendered agricultural labour, the dominance of multinational companies in the Global South, particularly their promotion of genetically modified crops and related chemicals, corporate malpractice, toxic waste dumping and ecological disasters. Although criticised by some Northern scholars for employing biological essentialism in her discussions of women’s health and connection to agriculture, Shiva successfully brought EDCs to the attention of governments and publics in India and other developing nations, as well as building significant and critical intellectual bridges between Southern and Northern ecofeminists (including an important, jointly authored book with Maria Mies in 1993).

Feminist and Queer Technoscience Studies Accounts of Toxins The effects of EDCs on reproductive bodies have also been of interest to feminist scholars working within critical traditions on issues of sex, gender and embodiment. These effects provide rich resources for scholars interested in thinking about the role of biological actors such as hormones and genes in the production of sexed biologies and sexual behaviours. British biologist Lynda Birke was perhaps the first scholar to write about this, in her 2000 paper, ‘Sitting on the Fence’. Birke’s paper is a classic feminist engagement with science (specifically biology) that tries to engage seriously with scientific accounts of EDCs but also to employ a critical, feminist approach to gender that does not assume (let alone celebrate) a naturalistic account of sexual difference. In a wider project about the ways in which sex hormones are understood as actors in human and non-human animal sexual differences, I took up this challenge later that decade, in Messengers of Sex. Alongside the rise of public and academic concern about the Anthropocene and toxic chemicals, many more feminist scholars have turned to unpicking these questions. Work in this area intersects


Celia Roberts

with a range of fields, including literary studies, social justice theory, queer theory and anthropology. In the last few years, the term ‘chemo-ethnography’ has also appeared within anthropology and science and technology studies to describe the ethnographic tracing of chemical effects not only on reproduction but on human and non-human ecologies: EDCs are just one focus of this work. Feminist anthropologist Michelle Murphy, for example, is currently undertaking a major project on toxic chemicals, focussing on Indigenous Canadians and their attempts to seek reproductive and social justice in this arena. Feminist and queer artists have also produced work exploring the effects of EDCs, often engaging directly with feminist and queer scholarship: see, for example, the ‘Queering, Love, Queering Hormones’ project.1 All of this work puts recent feminist and/or queer theory approaches to theorising sex, gender (and to a lesser extent reproduction) into conversation with public and scientific accounts of endocrine disruption. Some of it also builds connections to Indigenous environmental and health/reproductive justice movements’ accounts of the effects of toxins on their communities. Here, feminist scholars are involved in highlighting the importance of the uneven distribution of toxic effects globally. Whilst EDCs are global, they argue, they are not evenly spread; groups of humans have greater or lesser opportunities to avoid or ameliorate their effects (access to reproductive technologies, decontaminated water and soil, less toxic furnishings or organic food, for example). This work also builds on and contributes to feminist and other critical traditions highlighting class, gender and race health inequalities.

Impact Constituting a diverse and growing field, feminist work on EDCs has had impact in several arenas. In academia, this work challenges other social scientific and humanities scholars to take toxic chemicals, and the Anthropocene itself, more seriously; to start to know and to acknowledge the multiple ways in which our lives are shaped by industrial chemicals. Feminist research on EDCs shows that our location in dense flows of non-human materialities matter to sex, gender and reproduction; it

18 Toxic Chemicals and Their Effects on Reproduction


requires us to think about the materialities of chemicals, hormones, genes, organs and tissues, amongst many other things. Feminist work on EDCs has also inspired queer critique. Whilst feminist scholars have demonstrated the oppressive articulations of masculinity and femininity in much EDC-related discourse (scientific, environmentalist and public), queer theorists have asked challenging questions about the framing of endocrine disruption as a problem. Some trans and queer scholars are less concerned about hormonal changes, finding more to celebrate in non-intentional shifts in both human and non-human animal embodiments. These debates are new and will continue—there is much to learn here about bodies, transformation and health. Although helpfully focussing our attention on reproduction, feminist and queer work on EDCs has produced powerful critiques of the ‘sex panic’ orientation found in many public accounts of scientific research and in environmentalist campaigns. It would be interesting to investigate whether these critiques have had any effect on the work of campaign designers, science communicators and journalists in this space. Feminist work has highlighted the important activism and knowledge of specific Indigenous communities around toxic chemicals: when feminist, queer and Indigenous scholars align with affected communities fighting for environmental justice, there is greater chance of bringing about change. Activists have made some headway in campaigning against particular EDCs, but in so doing, they are often faced with the hydra-like quality of contemporary capitalism, where another EDC quickly appears to replace a banned one. Perhaps new forms of activism are needed that can more successfully disrupt the proliferation of EDCs. Murphy’s focus on life altered by, yet surviving, toxicity might provide a framing that helps overcome despair over the widespread effects of toxic chemicals. Alongside activist feminist scientists like Carson, Colborn, Shiva and Steingraber, feminist social science and humanities scholars and queer theorists have intervened in environmentalist, scientific and popular framings of toxic industrial chemicals for more than 50 years. Gaining traction in mainstream debates from such positions is not easy, but these interventions are necessary and powerful tools for those wanting to think seriously about how to take action to address the multiple effects of


Celia Roberts

toxins. Perhaps most importantly, these scholars have inspired ecological and health advocacy movements—Breast Cancer Action in the United States, and the Women’s Environmental Action Network in the UK, for example—that no longer ‘simply’ collate, analyse and present scientific findings, but also produce their own data and analysis to support their campaigning. In this way, feminist studies of environmental toxins are shining exemplars of politically engaged and effective academic research.

Note 1. a-new-kind-of-chemistry-where-endocrinology-meets-art/.

Key Readings Birke, Lynda. 2000. ‘Sitting on the Fence: Biology, Feminism and Genderbending Environments’. Women’s Studies International Forum 23(5): 587–99. Carson, Rachel, 1962. Silent Spring. London: Hamish Hamilton. Colborn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers. 1996. Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?: A Scientific Detective Story. New York: Dutton. Roberts, Celia. 2007. Messengers of Sex: Hormones, Biomedicine and Feminism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shiva, Vandana. 2001. Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply. London: Zed. Steingraber, Sandra. 1997. Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. Boston: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

Part VII Transdisciplinary Innovation

19 Moving Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries to Respond to Climate Change Margaret Jolly

Abstract Gender blindness has been diagnosed and redressed in many social science disciplines as the case studies in this volume show. Many early studies of environment and climate change in the natural and the social sciences were similarly gender blind. But increasingly scholars, policymakers and practitioners are recognising that gender matters in the experience of, and responses to, climate change and in extreme weather events which are rising in frequency and severity. Moreover, women are increasingly prominent in local, regional and global fora in promoting climate justice and this is matched by a fertile, transdisciplinary field on gender, environment and climate change. Forging coalitions between natural and social scientists, between scholars, activists and policymakers is crucial at a time when we are experiencing a climate emergency of global proportions.

Margaret Jolly (B) The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2020 M. Sawer et al. (eds.), How Gender Can Transform the Social Sciences,



Margaret Jolly

Keywords Environment · Gender · Climate change · Resilience · Climate justice

Gender Blindness in Social Science Disciplines and Transdisciplinary Terrains This volume offers compelling case studies of how sharply focusing a gender lens has brought innovative and illuminating insights to the disciplines of economics, history, political science, sociology and philosophy. These insights which have translated into significant impacts both within and beyond the academy, shaping political debates and the policies of governments and international organisations. These studies have critiqued the ‘gender blindness’ of prior disciplinary regimes in scholarship and social life, regimes which have privileged and normalised male experience as ‘human’. Similar questions about gender in research and action on the environment and climate change reveal both similarities and differences. There is striking similarity in the interaction between scholarship, political activism and policy changes. But, in contrast to the established masculinist turf of the disciplines discussed in this volume, in studies of gender, environment and climate change, we witness a far more diffuse transdisciplinary terrain, engaging several disciplines in the humanities and social sciences as well as the natural sciences. These relationships have not always been easy and there are several distinct and contested streams in scholarship and politics which I analyse below. The epistemologies and methods of the natural sciences are often very different to those prevailing in the social sciences. But increasingly environmental scientists are seeking insights from social scientists and social movements in translating their stark predictions in public fora where scepticism and denial is being stoked by many fossil-fuelled interests.

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Women and Nature: The Changing Face of Ecofeminisms In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a powerful mingling of concerns between feminist and environmental movements. A classic early text by Vandana Shiva (1988) argued that patriarchy universally and violently oppressed both women and nature and suggested there was an inherent, indeed a ‘natural’ link between women and nature. She found evidence for this in Indian history, tracing antecedents of the 1970s Chipko movement against deforestation to Hindu movements in Rajasthan c. 1730 whereby women sacrificed their lives to protect sacred khejri trees. Her ecofeminist philosophy informed political campaigns including those against genetically modified crops and she received death threats for her political activity. Similar but more nuanced scholarly arguments were developed by Sherry Ortner in anthropology who argued that it was women’s reproductive biology, their bearing and nurturing of children which led to cultural logics in which women were seen as closer to nature than men. Eco-feminist philosopher Val Plumwood (1993) suggested that the dualism of reason/nature simultaneously subordinated women, indigenous people and non-humans. She argued against anthropocentrism, the ‘hyperseparation’ of humans from nature and their presumption of mastery. She was actively involved in struggles to halt deforestation and preserve biodiversity in Australia. But such connections between women and the environment were early critiqued as essentialist. In the specific case of India, it was suggested that Shiva ignored the patriarchal character of Hinduism, its texts and practices and the oppressive character of the caste system which linked the alleged pollution of women and of lower castes. More broadly it was suggested that a focus on women’s proximity to nature risked reimprisoning women in a series of oppressive dualisms: nature/culture; emotion/reason; public/private. Moreover, both anthropologists (such as Marilyn Strathern 1980) and philosophers (such as Judith Butler 1990) challenged the universality of the nature/culture distinction, suggesting that this dichotomy and the associated distinction between sex and gender was not universal but rather emerged in Europe during the so-called ‘Enlightenment’ period.


Margaret Jolly

In other times and places, there was rather a philosophy grounded in an undivided ontology connecting humans and non-humans as kin: animals, plants, even mountains and rivers, all part of a shared, animated world of vibrant life. These connections were typically severed by processes of imperialist intrusion and capitalist development, creating profound global inequalities of race and class which interacted with those between men and women. Later ecofeminist thought and practice was far more intersectional, sensitive to the interaction of gender with class, race, religion and sexuality. More recently, queer ecologies have challenged the heteronormative presumptions in notions of women’s closeness to nature, celebrating the diverse forms of reproduction, sexual and non-sexual, in the non-human world of plants and animals. Donna Haraway (2015) for instance, has brought an innovative feminist lens to the study of climate change. In response to the suggestion by some scientists that we have entered a new epoch, the Anthropocene, in which human agency is fundamentally transforming the planet’s environment, or others that we are living in the Plantationocene of late capitalism, she has proposed the Cthulucene, a rather unpronounceable but more humble and earthy way of naming this new era. Rather than placing humans as sole agents of change, this term highlights the interwoven, non-hierarchical, symbiotic mode of living across species. Haraway enjoins us to use the feminist passion for making kin to celebrate our connections with other species rather than hubristically privileging our human exceptionalism.

Engendering Climate Change: Women as Victims and Agents in Climate Change Such abstract scholarly reflections on women and nature, gender and the environment have become far more concrete and urgent in the light of the contemporary climate emergency. As scientists have been predicting for decades, the dramatic increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has resulted in global warming, melting glaciers and permafrost, rising sea levels, acidification of the ocean, and the increased frequency of severe weather events—droughts and fires, floods and cyclones—which are no

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longer merely ‘natural’ disasters. In much of the early scientific literature on climate change and social science literature on programs of mitigation and adaptation, there was an effective gender blindness. A series of feminist scholars across the social sciences and humanities challenged this, revealing a profound gendering of discourse and practice around climate change and disaster preparedness. Bernadette Resurrección (2013) witnessed the political traction of twin rhetorical figures: women are both ‘climate vulnerable’ and ‘agency endowed’, while Arora-Johnson (2011) observed how women are viewed as either especially vulnerable (e.g. in India) or virtuous (e.g. in Europe) in their relation to the environment. This shuttling between seeing women as victims and agents is palpable if we compare the gendering of climatechange discourse and programs in specific places such as Oceania and the Philippines. Climate change is a pressing present reality in Oceania. In many photographic images and documentary films and in texts from scholarly articles to policy documents, women (sometimes with children) are portrayed as the pre-eminent vulnerable victims. An early report emanating from Australia (PACCSAP 2011: 31) suggested that ‘the inclusion of women in locally focused assessments and adaptation is essential not only because women are especially vulnerable, but also because they can be valuable contributors to adaptation work [my emphasis]’. Women engaged in farming or fishing are often seen as having a special relationship to the environment with unique ecological knowledge, echoing a problematic essentialism. Their heightened vulnerability is often linked to global arguments about the feminisation of poverty and to accumulating evidence from Asia and Africa that during and after disasters, women have been subject to increased risks of sexual and gender violence and take far longer to recover from the impacts of disasters. Ongoing research in Oceania raises questions about whether all women are inherently more vulnerable. This is true of poor women, single mothers, those not living in their ancestral homes, in precarious urban settlements, women with a disability, those displaced after a disaster or those who are lesbian and transwomen. However, monolithic presumptions that all women are inherently vulnerable can obscure the agency of Oceanic women and portray them yet again as in need of saving.


Margaret Jolly

Such representations of women as vulnerable victims can co-exist with notions of their distinctive agency—usually distilled in the idea of ‘resilience’ pervasive in contemporary climate change policies and programs. Notions of ‘resilience’ tend to be grounded in local ‘communities’, in the rural grassroots rather than the urban spaces of male-dominated state politics and burgeoning commodity economies. In the western Pacific, women are often seen to be especially crucial for everyday resilience projects in rural village settings (and can hence acquire undue burdens). So, it is perhaps unsurprising that in several later policy documents on gender and climate change in Oceania, women are seen as critical to ‘resilience’. For example, the 2015 UN Women Climate Change Pacific Brief entitled, Gender, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management, observes that: ‘Women are not victims, and their contributions will be fundamental to effectively adapting to the effects of climate change and building resilience to disasters’ (UN Women 2015: 2). But, privileging local resilience programs risks shifting the responsibility from states and non-state actors (NGOs and international organisations) and ultimately deflecting blame from the big polluters, those countries and corporations who are ultimately responsible for our unprecedented climate emergency. In the Philippines, Maria Tanyag and her colleagues have taken these arguments about gender, climate change and disaster even further. On 8 November 2013, the super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) made landfall and within a day devastated the Eastern Vasayas region of the Philippines, causing 6300 reported deaths and the internal displacement of four million people of the 14 million in the region. Several years afterwards, many of these people were still living in evacuation centres or temporary shelters and the wake of the typhoon was still flowing through their lives. As Tanyag and her colleagues showed, both the short-term and long-term impacts of typhoon Haiyan were gendered. Dominant myths of survival—that there is a local culture of mutual aid, that Filipinos are endlessly resourceful in times of crisis and that overseas remittances are a crucial help—were disseminated both by state media and non-state actors. Although these might have boosted morale during the emergency period, they occluded the ongoing suffering connected to both gender and class hierarchies.

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Tanyag (2018) suggests that the notion of resilience is a neoliberal discourse which relies particularly on women’s self-sacrifice and draws on cultural expectations of female altruism. The routine and unequal demands on women and girls to care for others become infinitely expansive in the context of greatly heightened needs during and after the crisis. Their own self-care and their own rights to sexual and reproductive health and autonomy are vitiated. They do not share equally in the material resources distributed in the wake of the disaster and their own productive and reproductive contributions to survival remain undervalued, uncounted and unpaid. Pre-existing material inequalities between rich and poor, men and women are exacerbated as women’s bodies are depleted. Tanyag points out how ‘disaster resilience’ as a discursive tool relies on norms of female altruism at the household and community levels so that post-disaster responsibilities are increasingly divested away from the state. These insights about the Philippines have a far broader global resonance.

Rise! Women in Resistance and Creative Activism Women are increasingly visible in acts of resistance and hope in the face of climate change—as leaders in local, regional and global fora and in creative activism. It is true, as some authors argue, that early global fora for political leaders such as the annual UN Conference of the Parties (COP) and scientific meetings, canonically the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), were at first primarily meetings of men and dominated by technical, scientific issues and concerns about risk and security. But increasingly, we see women at the vanguard of political processes dedicated to redressing the worst effects of climate change. Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica was a key architect of the Paris Agreement at COP 21 and her country was one of the earliest to use exclusively renewable energy for electricity. Greta Thunberg is the female face of the powerful movement of young student activists— though both her youth and her gender have been vilified by conservative critics and climate-change deniers and sceptics.


Margaret Jolly

Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, has also been prominent in the movement for climate justice, especially during her time as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997–2002). In her book Climate Justice: A Feminist Solution to a Man-Made Problem (2018), Robinson celebrates the dedication of many women (and one man, Anote Tong, long-term President of Kiribati) in movements to raise awareness about climate change and connect climate justice and gender justice. Successive chapters celebrate the work of women from the Global South, showing how in the face of devastating disasters such as floods and droughts and in the more constant catastrophe of being poor, they evinced a strength to catalyse others, to raise awareness and fight against the ravages of climate change. For example, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim a cattle herder from Chad witnessed how her cows were producing far less milk, how lush grassland pasture had become dry and brittle, how Lake Chad had shrunk dramatically and desertification in the Sahel had spread. Seven million people around Lake Chad are suffering severe hunger, half a million children are malnourished. Houdou formed an association of Indigenous women to fight this and took the struggle up to the level of global UN meetings. She campaigns not just against the big polluters, but to ensure that Indigenous knowledge is part of the solution. Women have proved crucial in environmental movements and NGOs working on climate change and disaster preparedness. Organisations like One Million Women founded by Natalie Isaacs and DIVA for Equality (Diverse Voices and Action for Equality) in Fiji make crucial connections between climate justice and gender justice for women and, in the case of DIVA, especially for lesbian, bisexual and transwomen. Yet, despite this global activity there is still a perceived lack of women and gender perspectives at the major fora of international climate-change diplomacy such as the UN Conference of the Parties. In the context of COP 23 in Bonn and in the lead-up to COP 25, recently relocated from Santiago to Madrid, there were protests that women’s voices had been silenced and their concerns marginalised. Such protests can be performative; at COP 23 in Bonn many women stood in protest lines with their mouths covered with black tape, protesting deficiencies in a diluted Gender

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Action Plan and what they perceived as the silencing of women and nonbinary people. So, it is increasingly important to acknowledge the role of gender in creative expressions designed to raise awareness and inspire activism against climate change. One prominent example is the work of in the Pacific and in particular the Pacific Climate Warriors. In photographic images, in protest meetings and blockades, they have used their signature credo: ‘We are not drowning, we are fighting’. Both men and women here assume the posture of warriors, which they insist is resistant but non-violent. In some of the most influential videos released by, we see the feminine warrior figure of Kathy Jetn˜ıl-Kijiner, spoken-word artist from the Marshall Islands, and daughter of the first female President of that country, Dr. Hilda Heine, also an outspoken leader on climate change. In her acclaimed performance at the United Nations Summit in New York in September 2014, Matefele Peinam, Jetn˜ıl-Kijiner combined the emotional tug of her maternal connection to her then infant daughter with a staunch, angry expression of Oceanic sovereignty against the fossil-fuelled countries and corporations that are causing seas to rise, engulfing the atolls of her homeland and causing the waste of US nuclear explosions to seep into the ocean. And, in a more recent collaboration with the Greenland poet Aka Niviâna, in the video performance of their poem Rise (2018)—as the glaciers melt in Greenland and the seas rise in the Marshalls—they exchange the stones and shells of their homelands in an act of sororal empathy to promote resistance in the face of climate change.

Conclusions As we see the reality of climate change in every part of the world today, sustaining hope is hard but very necessary. And, in that struggle, it is important to witness how gender has been perceived both in relation to a more benign and beneficent ‘nature’ and how it is newly relevant as we face environments that are far more uncertain and potentially portend catastrophic futures. The struggle is both scholarly and deeply practical and political.


Margaret Jolly

There is a challenge in transdisciplinary scholarship on the environment insofar as the quantitative methods, the use of huge data sets and the highly technical skills entailed in making models and projections can be at odds with the methods of social science scholars relying less on quantitative surveys and more on qualitative methods such as participant observation, interviews, oral histories and focus groups. Sometimes there has been a hubristic presumption by natural scientists and epistemic injustice in failing to credit ‘soft’ qualitative data as equally ‘evidence’. Challenges continue in translating between scientific approaches to climate and everyday understandings of weather, and especially those Indigenous ontologies which unite natural and cultural changes and/or discern divine causations for such changes. But, increasingly, some environmental scientists are seeking insights from the social sciences and the environmental humanities and from creative artists as they look for new ways to engage broader publics. Environmental scientists have found it deeply disturbing that their increasingly dire and urgent predictions are failing to translate into effective political action. The Paris Agreement of COP 21 was justly celebrated but implementation is slow or even going backwards. Many polities, communities and corporations are declaring a climate emergency, but we need to move beyond rhetoric to urgent action: to renewables as a source of energy, to stop deforestation and to plant more trees, to transform meat-intensive, industrial forms of food production, etc. Such action is often blocked by climate denialists captive to fossil-fuel interests who are resistant to the dazzlingly clear evidence of climate change all around our world. Forging strong coalitions between natural and social scientists, between scholars, activists and policymakers is crucial at a time when we are experiencing a climate emergency of global proportions.

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Key Readings Arora-Johnson, Seema. 2011. ‘Virtue and Vulnerability: Discourse on Women, Gender and Climate Change’. Global Environmental Change 21: 744–51. Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. Haraway, Donna. 2015. ‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Cthulucene: Making Kin’. Environmental Humanities 6: 159–65. https:// Jolly, Margaret. 2019. In press. ‘Engendering the Anthropocene in Oceania: Fatalism, Resilience, Resistance’. In An Elemental Anthropocene, edited by Timothy Neale and Will Smith. Cultural Studies Review 25(2). PACCSAP. 2011. Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change: Past Approaches and Considerations for the Future. Discussion Paper. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Plumwood, Val. 1993. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London, UK: Routledge. Resurrección, Bernadette P. 2013. ‘Persistent Women and Environmental Linkages in Climate Change and Sustainable Development Agendas’. Women’s Studies International Forum 40: 33–43. wsif.2013.03.011. Robinson, Mary with Caitríona Palmer. 2018. Climate Justice: A Man-Made Problem with a Feminist Solution. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Shiva, Vandana. 1988. Staying Alive. Women, Ecology and Survival in India. London, UK: Zed Books. Strathern, Marilyn. 1980. ‘No Nature, No Culture: The Hagen Case’. In Nature, Culture and Gender, edited by Carol P. MacCormack and Marilyn Strathern. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Tanyag, Maria. 2018. ‘Resilience, Female Altruism and Bodily Autonomy: Disaster-Induced Displacement in Post-Haiyan Philippines’. Signs 43(3): 563–85. UN Women. 2015. Gender, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management. On line. (20 September 2015).