Militarization is defined as a process that fundamentally changes society and all types of relations in it, the formal and institutional as well as the informal and the intimate. In a militarized society, women and men are often affected differently. At its most extreme, militarization results in the disappearance of civil, civilianized space, leaving the civilians with no choice but to live in symbiosis with the military and its war-making. Since the mid-1980s, there has been a steady flow of feminist literature specifically exploring questions on gender and militarization in various disciplines, including International Relations (IR), as well as men and masculinity. The debate between modernists and postmodernists in feminist research of the 1990s questioned the universalizing effects of using the term “woman.” Postmodernists argued that the field should be broadened by introducing the concept of gender and investigating how different structures intersect in creating socioeconomic power relations between women, as well as between women and men, on a global scale. Another strand of thinking implies that it is the gender order of male superiority and female inferiority that drives militarization and war. Some studies on gendered militarization have advanced the idea of a military organization that is democratic, but still has the option of using violent means to defend or to threaten. The question that remains is: in an era dominated by the “War on Terror” and its global ontology of security/insecurity, how we begin to fight militarization without becoming militarized ourselves.
Joyce P. Kaufman and Kristen P. Williams
Nationalism and the nation-state are both intimately connected to citizenship. Citizenship and nationalism are also linked to gender, as all three concepts play a key role in the process of state-building and state-maintenance as well as in the interaction between states, whether overtly or covertly. Yet women do not figure in the analysis of nationalism and citizenship in the mainstream literature, a gap that feminists have been trying to fill. By interrogating gender, along with the notions of masculinity and femininity, feminist international relations (IR) scholars shed light into the ways that gender is socially constructed. They also investigate the historical process of state formation and show where women are located in nationalist movements. Furthermore, by unpacking the sovereign state, feminist scholars have argued that while mainstream IR views the state as a rational, unitary actor, states are actually gendered entities. Two kinds of feminist literature in IR in regards to the state can be identified: women and the state (how women are excluded in terms of the public–private divide, and through citizenship), and gender and the state (gendered states). In general, feminist scholarship has led to a more complete understanding of the gender-citizenship-nationalism nexus. Nevertheless, some avenues for future research deserve consideration, such as the political and cultural exclusions of women and others in society, the inequalities that exist within states, whether there is such a thing as a “Comparative Politics of Gender,” and the concept of “global citizenship.”
Mary K. Meyer McAleese and Susan S. Northcutt
The interdisciplinary field of international studies has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Indeed, the field of international relations, both theory and practice, has been argued to be gendered in highly masculinist ways. Whether as practitioners or as scholars, women have had a difficult time entering and advancing in such male-dominated fields, both in the United States and around the world. Their admittance and full acceptance in the profession has been hindered by laws and regulations, institutional practices and inertia, gendered stereotypes and customary expectations, overt discrimination and subtle biases, or benign neglect. As such, women have adopted a number of different strategies to make their ways into such male-dominated fields. These include working to expand the field to encompass questions of interest to women, developing new networks with other women for mentorship and resource development, and organizing themselves into distinct groups to promote women’s professional interests and advancement. One of these women’s organizations is Women’s Caucus for International Studies (WCIS), a formal section within the International Studies Association (ISA). Since its formal organization in 1996, the Women’s Caucus has worked hard to fulfill its mission of upgrading the status of women in the profession. Specifically, it seeks to promote equal opportunities for women in their professional lives, as well as women’s professional development. The Caucus fulfills its mission in numerous ways, including sponsoring scores of panels and roundtables focused on women’s professional development, and organizing mentoring networks, both inside the Caucus and beyond.
Race(ing) International Relations: A Critical Overview of Postcolonial Feminism in International Relations
Geeta Chowdhry and L.H.M. Ling
Postcolonial feminism in international relations (PFIR) is a disciplinary field devoted to the study of world politics as a site of power relations shaped by colonization. PFIR combines postcolonial and feminist insights to explore questions such as how the stratum of elite power intersects with subterranean layers of colonization to produce our contemporary world politics; how these interrelationships between race, gender, sex, and class inform matrices of power in world politics; and how we account for elite and subaltern agency and resistance to the hegemonic sphere of world politics. PFIR is similar to Marxism, constructivism, and postmodernism in that they all posit that the masses underwrite hegemonic rule and, in so doing, ultimately have the means to do away with it. One difference is that PFIR emanates from the position of the subaltern; more specifically, the colonized’s colonized such as women, children, the illiterate, the poor, the landless, and the voiceless. Three major components are involved in PFIR in its analysis of world politics: culture, politics, and material structures. Also, eight common foci emerge in PFIR: intersectionality, representation, and power; materiality; relationality; multiplicity; intersubjectivity; contrapuntality; complicity; and resistance and accountability. PFIR gives rise to two interrelated projects: an empirical inquiry into the construction and exercise of power in daily life, and theory building that reflects this empirical base. A future challenge for PFIR is to elucidate how we can transform, not just alleviate, the hegemonies that persist around the world.
Melinda Adams and Gwynn Thomas
Women’s activism has assumed an international dimension beginning in the nineteenth century. Transnational feminism has been shaped by debates over a wide range of issues: how to name and describe feminist inspired action that crosses national borders; how to create organizations, networks, and movements that acknowledge the multiple power differentials that exist among women while still allowing for concerted political action; and how to craft effective mobilization strategies in the face of highly differing forms of activism. These debates have fueled a surge in scholarly interest in the transnational activities of feminist groups, transforming the ways in which women’s studies, political science, international relations, sociology, and geography investigate the relationships between national and international levels of politics. The scholarship on transnational feminist actions has been influenced in large part by the concept of transnational advocacy networks/transnational feminist networks, which often bring together multiple kinds of actors such as social movements, international nongovernmental organizations, and more nationally or locally based actors. Another issue tackled by scholars who are politically committed to the goals of transnational feminist activism is how feminists are likely to achieve their goals and produce change through their transnational activities. These scholars can be expected to continue to develop their own research agendas on transnational feminist activism and to influence how transnational politics and globalization are studied in other fields.
After the end of World War II, women’s rights advocates at the United Nations vigorously campaigned for equality between the sexes. At the UN Charter Conference held in San Francisco in 1945, women delegates fought for the recognition of sex-based discrimination as a violation of human rights in Article 1 of the Charter. At the UN, issues relating to women were primarily placed under the purview of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), established in June 1946 with the mandate to “prepare recommendations and report to the Economic and Social Council on promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.” Three main perspectives underpin feminist International Relations (IR) literature on the UN, gender and women: promoting women’s participation and inclusion of women’s issues at the UN; gender critique of the UN, geared towards institutional transformation; and challenging the universality of the UN. Despite some fundamental differences between these three strands of thinking, their political significance is widely acknowledged in the literature. The co-existence of these contentious viewpoints resonates with the vibrant feminist politics at the UN, and offers a fruitful avenue for envisioning a better intergovernmental organization. This is particularly relevant in light of feminist scholars’ engagement with activism and policymaking at the UN from the very beginning. Nevertheless, there are issues that deserve further consideration, such as the workings of the UN, as reflected in its unique diplomatic characteristics and bureaucratic practices.
For centuries, women have been struggling for the recognition of their rights. Women’s rights are still being dismissed by United Nations (UN) human rights bodies and even governments, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. It was not until the 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria that states began to recognize women’s rights as human rights. However, this institutional change cannot solely be credited to the UN, but more importantly to the work of international women’s organizations. According to the social movement theory, these organizations have been permeating intergovernmental structures and, with the help of their constituents and experienced leaders, framing women’s rights as human rights in different ways throughout time. It is through mobilizing resources and seizing political opportunities that women’s rights activists rationalize how discrimination and exclusion resulted from gendered traditions, and that societal change is crucial in accepting women’s rights as fully human. But seeing as there are still oppositions to the issue of women’s rights as human rights, further research still needs to be conducted. Some possible venues for research include how well women’s rights as human rights travel across different institutions, violence against women, how and in what way women’s rights enhance human rights, and the changes that have taken place in mainstream human rights and specialized women’s rights institutions since the late 1980s as well as their impact.
Karen Erickson and Elisabeth Prügl
Academic organizations introduce gender, race, nationality, and other signifiers of power into the field of international studies. Research on the status of women in the international studies profession has typically focused on the distributions of women and men according to academic rank, salaries, and employment. A number of detailed case studies have explored practices in particular academic departments and universities in order to elucidate the mechanisms in place that help to reproduce gender inequality. We can gauge the progress that women have made with regard to their status and role in academic organizations over the years by looking at the International Studies Association (ISA). The ISA presents a mixed picture of international studies as a field of gendered power. While women have entered leadership positions in the association, they have done so mostly at lower levels, while men continue to dominate the positions at the top, the ISA president and executive director. Women have made some advances into editorial positions, but gatekeeping in the scholarly journals published under the auspices of the ISA remains largely a male preserve. Furthermore, women and men in the ISA reproduce gender difference and inequality by re-enacting gender divisions of labor while participating in an economy that circulates symbolic capital. An important consideration for future research is the assumption that international studies is a field of complex gendered power that cannot be easily explained by purely singular tools of analysis.
Valentine M. Moghadam
Economic development gained prominence as a field of economics after World War II in relation to the prospects of what came to be called underdeveloped, decolonizing, developing, or Third World countries. The period between the 1950s and 1980s saw the emergence of various theories of economic development and policy strategies, and the growth of “development studies” reflected cross-disciplinary interest in the subject. In the early decades, women received little or no attention. If women were discussed at all in policy circles, it was in relation to their role as mothers, an approach that came to be known as the welfare or motherhood approach. The field of women in development (WID) emerged in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, women’s participation and gender dynamics have evolved as central issues in the discourse and policies of international development. Along with changes in theories and policies of economic development, WID developed with distinct or overlapping fields known as women and development (WAD), gender and development (GAD), the efficiency approach, and the empowerment approach. Several basic themes can be identified from the literature on women and gender in development, including: all societies exhibit a division of labor by sex; economic development has had a differential impact on men and women, although the impact on women has tended to be conditioned by class and ethnicity; economic policy making and institutions have a gendered nature, and the ways in which macroeconomics and the social relations of gender influence each other.
A gender disparity in publishing hinders the ability of women to advance their careers in academia. A review of the literature shows that there is little published research on the status of women in international studies. Women’s access to, and progress in, the field of international studies has also been slower than many have thought. Feminist approaches to international relations emerged later compared to other subfields of political science, at around the end of the Cold War. Data suggests that there has not been substantial growth in the proportion of women in international studies since the mid-1990s: the data of Tétreault et al. (1997) reported 31.2 percent women for 1994 and Breuning et al. (2005) calculated that there were 31.8 percent women in the International Studies Association in 2004. With each successive rank on the academic career ladder, the percentage of women becomes smaller. In 2006, women accounted for 36 percent of the assistant professors in political science, but only 28 percent of the associate professors and just 17 percent of full professors. Some women—especially those engaged with the research communities on women and/or gender in international studies—have found high-quality outlets in journals such as the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, and the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy. However, women whose work does not focus on those research communities are unlikely to benefit from the existence of these journals.
Caron E. Gentry
The public/private divide assumes that men are the (public sphere) actors gendered toward the possibility of violent action, specifically as soldiers, combatants, guerrillas, or revolutionaries, whereas “proper” women within the private sphere are gendered to be non-violent or peaceful actors. Women who engage in the political sphere are condemned for deviating from the private, and more so when they are involved in violence. Indeed, women who operate as agents of political violence are accused of transgressing both gender norms and the normative conceptualization of a state’s monopoly on violence. Feminists have challenged the veracity of this public/private circumscription through their evaluation of women as agents of political violence. Earlier feminist work dehumanizes politically violent women, making their violence more damaging and mental health more damaged than men who commit the same violence. Feminists later moved away from this dehumanization and instead portrayed women as helpmates to the politically violent organization and its male members. Some or most mainstream approaches refer to women involved in sub-state political violence as “terrorists,” and women terrorists are socially constructed as doubly illegitimate actors. Instead of focusing on what must be wrong with the women who engage in political violence, research should identify the reasons behind their actions, such as perceived injustices against them, their community, and/or political and civil rights.
The engagement between the discipline of international relations (IR) and feminist theory has led to an explosion of concerns about the inherent gendered dimension of a supposedly gender-blind field, and has given rise to a rich and complex array of analyses that attempt to capture the varied aspects of women’s invisibility, marginalization, and objectification within the discipline. The first feminist engagements within IR have pointed not only to the manner in which women are rendered invisible within the field, but also to IR’s inherent masculinity, which masks itself as a neutral and universally valid mode of investigation of world politics. Thus, the initial feminist incursions into IR’s discourse took the form of a conscious attempt both to bridge the gap between IR and feminist theory and to bring gender into IR, or, in other words, to make the field aware that “women are relevant to policy.” In the 1990s, feminist literature undertook incisive analyses of women’s objectification and commodification within the global economy. By the end of the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century, the focus turned to an accounting for the agency of diverse women as they are located within complex sociopolitical contexts. The core concern of this inquiry lay with the diversification of feminist methodologies, especially as it related to the experience of women in non-Western societies.
More than twenty years ago, feminist scholars began challenging conventional approaches to the study of war that they accused of being gender blind and excluding women’s involvement and experience of conflict. This feminist critique was articulated by Cynthia Enloe in her question “Where are the women?” in reference to the study of conflicts. Since then, numerous scholars have produced works that not only include women in existing accounts of war but also offer radical alternative approaches to the study of war. This body of feminist scholarship has sought to deconstruct and challenge three foundations of mainstream scholarship on armed conflict: equating gender with women or women’s issues; conflating women and children together as victims of war; and narrowly defining war as a masculine, public activity with a clear time frame. Feminist scholars such as Judith Butler theorized the concepts of gender and sex in order to complicate feminism beyond “women’s studies.” Despite these inroads into the way conflict is conceptualized and researched, mainstream approaches to the study of war in the past decade remain resistant to systematic and comprehensive considerations of gender. Recent scholarship presents a broader picture of women’s relationship to international conflicts. Feminist scholars demonstrate women’s multiple roles within, and impacts on, war; disrupt stereotypes and gendered norms associated with “women’s place” during war; and highlight some of the many different ways that women—as soldiers, rebels, and as perpetrators of violence—perform in, and influence war.
The number of women in national elective leadership positions has grown since 1960 when the first woman became prime minister. As the number of women in high elective office has grown, feminist scholars have worked to fill the “gender gap” in the study of national leadership in the disciplines of history, political science, and international relations. Feminist scholars, for instance, have investigated several gender-based assumptions about what the policy priorities of women leaders will be. The first assumption is that a woman leader will promote social programs and expenditures over military defense; this assumption is based on women’s traditional gender role as caretaker. The second assumption is that a woman leader will be likely to eschew the use of military force in foreign policy. The third is that she will introduce or endorse policies that promote gender equality, that is, that she will pursue a feminist agenda. Thus, the general policy questions scholars approach the study of women leaders with are: Is she a socialist? Is she a pacifist? Is she a feminist? Feminist scholars also consider public perceptions about women’s ability to serve as national leader as well as performance, or women’s style of leadership and effectiveness as leaders. Do women lead in a hierarchical, “top-down” command style or do they tend to be more cooperative, collegial, and collaborative than their male counterparts?
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the number of women with leadership positions in national governments increased considerably. In 2006 alone, a woman became the head of government in Chile, South Korea, Liberia, and Jamaica. However, the question of how women differ from men in terms of leadership style and policy preferences has emerged as a subject of intense debate. Scholars have produced a substantial amount of work that addresses gender differences in political leadership, and particularly leadership in global politics. Many studies focus on women’s access to the upper echelons of political power, what women representatives bring to politics that is different, and how far and in what ways women politicians and legislators have different policy preferences to those of their male counterparts. More specifically, these studies explore whether women’s political representation helps advance women’s group interests. Within political science, there has been limited research regarding the systematic elements of leadership in politics, and especially the role that gender identity plays in the exercise of global political leadership. Future research should address these gaps, along with other questions such as what women leaders actually do with that power once they get there; whether women’s leadership indeed makes a difference for peace or for women’s group interests; and the political outcomes of women’s leadership.
Mary N. Hampton and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris
One aspect of women’s professional experience in the field of international studies is that of teaching. Women’s experience in the gendered classroom has been shaped by three general factors: their identity, their interests, and the institutions in which they work. Major dimensions of identity can be grouped into: identity as reputation; identity as race and sex; and identity as role models and mentors. Meanwhile, women’s teaching is clearly affected by their scholarly interests, which impact on both the subjects they choose to teach and their pedagogical approaches. While it would not be surprising to find that women teachers tend to teach more about women and feminism, a major survey of International Relations (IR) faculty in the United States found other significant differences between women and men in the classroom, often linked to women’s differing research interests. Women’s teaching is also impacted by the institutional environment in which they work. Surveys and studies across the academic spectrum confirm the importance not only of gender equity at institutions, but also the presence of an institutional climate, or culture, that is friendly to women faculty. Major elements that affect the institutional environment include the number of faculty women (including senior women); the type of institution (its focus on research or teaching); and the ability to offer feminist and gender courses, and related pedagogies.