Gender, ethnicity and feminism: An intersectional analysis of the lived experiences feminist academic women in UK Higher Education

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Abstract

Studies have begun to explore how those women academics committed to social justice, namely feminist academics, are navigating the increasingly managerial Academy. To understand how these multiple social identities, including gender and ethnicity, interact and intersect, this paper adopts an intersectional approach to understanding the heterogeneity of women’s experiences in academia. Five focus groups with feminist academics (n = 6–10 in each focus group) reveal concerns of hampered career progression as a consequence of being female and openly feminist. Some ethnic minority academics felt that they were forced to choose between a feminist identity or that of their ethnic background. For some women, their feminist identity provided opportunities for challenging dominant practices. The paper concludes that the heterogeneity of feminist academics’ experiences within academia is under-researched and that the lens of intersectionality helps to illuminate this. This paper advances understanding of multiple identities at work, though demonstrating that intersectionality can lead to the accumulation of advantage as well as disadvantage in relation to social identities such as gender and ethnicity, and a political identity such as feminist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-206
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2018

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