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Article

Meredith Reid Sarkees and Marijke Breuning

Women are underrepresented in the discipline of international studies, though the field has seen a sizeable influx of female professionals only within the last 30 years. As the percentage of women has grown, women have adopted a variety of strategies for “resisting at the margins,” or finding places for themselves within the profession, and for ensuring their professional success. Although the larger presence of women has led to activism and improvement, women still have a way to go before they will have achieved parity with their male colleagues in international studies. Due to their focus on the realm of “high politics,” international relations and international studies were often seen as disciplines that were not suited to the inclusion of women. Consequently, women in international studies have to confront significant barriers to their career progress, which has contributed to women’s disenchantment with the field and to the leaky pipeline in international studies. However, research has found that women in male-dominated fields (such as international studies) are strongly organizationally committed. Women in international studies are willing to structure their professional efforts to conform to the goals and practices of organizations such as the International Studies Association (ISA), especially as participating in annual meetings and conferences is critical for a career in international studies.

Article

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.

Article

Nicole Laliberte, Kate Driscoll Derickson, and Lorraine Dowler

Geography and international studies are both deeply rooted in masculinist, imperialist, and patriarchal ways of viewing the world. However, over the past 20 years, the increase in the number of women within these fields has planted the seeds for the introduction of feminist intervention. Feminist geography is primarily concerned with the real experiences of individuals and groups in their own localities. It can be viewed as the study of "situated knowledges derived from the lives and experiences of women in different social and geographic locations." Feminist geographers consistently seek out techniques which are in line with their feminist philosophies. Although much of the work will be categorized as qualitative, such as ethnographic fieldwork, feminist geographers recognize the need for feminist approaches in quantitative analysis, and techniques alone do not render the project feminist. Rather, feminists in geography argue that all types of data collection must recognize the power relationship between the researcher and the researched. Feminist geography also operates at the local scale and crosses to the global. This is illustrated by geographers who not only study the daily lives of women in a refugee camp but also construct theoretical arguments focused on global forces such as climate change or war in relation to the international migration of women.

Article

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.

Article

Feminist theories of international relations have thrived over the past decade as evidenced by the many and varied feminist contributions to the international relations field. At the same time, international relations feminists have had rich theoretical debates among themselves over critical questions about epistemology, ontology, methodology, and ethics. Feminist theories of international relations are distinguished by their ethical commitments to inclusivity and self-reflexivity, and attentiveness to relationships and power in relationships. These norms implicitly guide feminists to put into practice their own critical theories, epistemologies, and explicit normative commitments. Thus, rather than a source of division, the contestations among international relations feminisms about the epistemological grounds for feminist knowledge, the ontology of gender, and the appropriate ethical stance in a globalizing albeit grossly unequal world are a source of their strength. With a shared normative commitment to global social change, feminist scholarship and social movements can appreciate and even celebrate internal diversities and multidimensional identities. In this respect, feminist international relations can be described as a movement that shows what is to come and that offers innovative methods to get there. In the context of current United Nations reform, feminist movements have cited the need for a global institutional powerhouse to promote the rights of women and girls worldwide, rather than a system where everyone is responsible for integrating gender perspectives.

Article

Laura Sjoberg

Feminist Security Theorizing is in many ways what it sounds like—thinking about security in the global political arena through gender lenses. Since early work in feminist International Relations (IR), feminists have been exploring research questions about the ways that gender shapes and is shaped by war, conflict, and militarism. The field has developed to be labeled Feminist Security Studies (FSS). Debates about whether FSS is “feminist security” studies or feminist “security studies” have asked about the subfield’s focus—whether it is toward rethinking security in feminist ways or toward the mainstream field of security studies as such. With space in the field for both approaches, feminist security theorizing has looked at revealing the importance of gender in conceptualizing security, demonstrating that gender is key to understanding causes and predicting outcomes, and showing gender as a key part of solving security problems. FSS has several common theoretical commitments and concerns. These include a necessary commitment to intersectionality, a recognition of the importance of theorizing not only about gender but also about sexuality, a consciousness about framing, and an awareness of the politics of sociology of the academic disciplines in which it is situated. It is important to explore the past, present, and potential futures of feminist theorizing about security, concluding with an invitation to expand recognition of feminist work addressing security issues across an even wider variety of perspectives.

Article

Meredith Reid Sarkees and Marie T. Henehan

As a distinct discipline, international studies is relatively young, emerging in the United States only after World War II. The study of the status of women in international studies is also a fairly new field, appearing more recently than that in other fields in academia, including political science. In the United States, political science evolved through at least six distinct phases. The first two phases occurred during the American Revolution and the post-Civil War era, while the next four took place in the twentieth century, described by David Easton as the formal (legal), the traditional (informal or pre-behavioral), the behavioral, and the post-behavioral stages. It was during this period that the study of women in politics began. As political science began to solidify itself as a separate academic discipline at the beginning of the twentieth century, there was also an attempt to include international relations within its domain. Despite the increase in the number of women in international studies and the advances that women have made in publications and positions, the field remains dominated by men. In other words, it is still not an equitable place for women to work. In order to overcome many of these enduring barriers, there should be a greater willingness to investigate and publish more studies about the status of women and to take more proactive steps to resolve the issues that have stalled women’s progress.

Article

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.

Article

Until recently, the role of women in nationalism and governance has received little scholarly attention, perhaps because men have historically exercised near exclusive control over nations and states. This is ironic because it is women who create the nation/state. The intersection between gender and nationalism can be broken down into three categories. The first category is women as biological reproducers of the nation. The second category includes women participating centrally in the ideological reproduction of the collectivity and as signifiers of ethnic/national differences. The third category involves the idea of gendered militaries and gendered wars. Women also affect the structure and power relations in the international arena as victims of various international crimes that have traditionally gone unnoticed because of the bias towards male dominance. One example is mass rape. National identity created through the construction of woman as nation allows women to be a target of war. The idea that women are symbols of national territory and identity makes targeting them a main tactic used by enemy groups. In the area of human rights, most conceptions stem from Western visions, which do not always mesh with local, tribal, or non-Western citizens. For women's rights truly to exist, human rights focus must change because it has been constructed with a male bias and understanding.

Article

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.

Article

Valerie Hudson, R. Charli Carpenter, and Mary Caprioli

It is not only gender ambiguity that is securitized in the international arena, but femininity as well. Some scholars argue that conflict over what women are and what they should do is characterized as a risk to national/global security. Meanwhile, there are those who would characterize gender as irrelevant to, or is one of many variables, in thinking about “security.” Feminist international relations (IR) scholars, however, have argued that gender is across all areas of international security, and that gender analysis is transformative of security studies. A redefinition of security in feminist terms that reveals gender as a factor at play can uncover uncomfortable truths about the reality of this world; how the “myth of protection” is a lie used to legitimize war; and how discourse in international politics is constructed of dichotomies and that their deconstruction could lead to benefits for the human race. Feminist work asserts that it is inadequate to define, analyze, or account for security without reference to gender subordination, particularly, the dichotomy of the domination/subordination concept of power. Gender subordination can be found in military training routines that refer to underperforming men as “girls,” or in the use of rape and forced impregnation as weapons of war. It is the traditional sense of “power as dominance” that leads to situations such as the security dilemma.

Article

Laura J. Shepherd

In challenging conventional conceptualizations of the human subject, the state, and the international system, early feminist security studies (FSS) offered new ways to think about security from inside and outside the disciplinary boundaries of international relations (IR). Indeed, FSS scholars illustrate that security not only means different things in different contexts but also functions in different ways to constitute particular social/political realities. Politicizing the everyday, or rather, demanding that the everyday be recognized as political, is a core assumption of FSS. Further contributions of early FSS to the replacement of the human subject in matters of security include a form of engagement with the very language used in speaking of security matters. Moreover, FSS scholars argue that insecurities permeate the very condition of human existence, bringing FSS insights to bear on economic processes, technological development, state building, and reconstruction. Ranging from analysis of violent conflict and political violence using a gendered framework to critiques of the policies and practices governing post-conflict reconstruction, and encompassing strong and vital interjections on debates over securitizing development, migration, health, human rights, and peace, FSS scholarship is accessible, innovative, and by no means limited to “women and war.” Relocating FSS scholarship from the margins to the center and listening to the voices of those human subjects erased from the academic study of security brings new challenges but also new opportunities for collaboration, with the sighting and citing of FSS by other critical scholars.

Article

Success is not easy to define or measure. In the academic field, traditional indicators of success include level of educational attainment, type and place of employment, tenure status, promotion or position status, publication productivity, and compensation. Alternatively, success can be defined as “the achievement of something desired or planned.” This is a more inward-looking definition of success, and adopting it might improve the chances for women to attain recognized success because it rewards what women in higher education and in international studies actually do. Some measures about how to determine success in international studies are more quantifiable than others, such as identifying obstacles women have had to overcome to enter and to thrive within the discipline. Others are controversial, such as self-professed goals that do not align with the traditional success measures. For example, many women—and even men—are simply more concerned with seeking work–life–family balance than the “prestige” of a tenured, full-professor appointment at an Ivy League Institution. Clearly, there is a need to change perceptions about what success means and what a successful life looks like. To this end, the academy in general, and international studies as an academic discipline in particular, should rethink how to evaluate quality teaching, recognize a broader range of research as valuable, and honor all kinds of service. They should also undertake some seriously introspective studies focused on why women’s work in academia remains so undervalued. Such studies must include recommendations for action aimed at rectifying current gender imbalances.