Feminist academics in leadership positions report difficulty pursuing feminist ideals, often preferring to leave their radical feminist identities at home with some professing desires to unite their dual identities of scholar and activist. Black feminists are particularly marginalised within academia, although the increased diversity of the student population in the UK brings hope for a new generation of black feminists entering the academy. To counter the apparent attitudes in academia that are suspicious of feminists and feminism, the centre for Diversity and Equality in Careers and Employment Research (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia) held a one day free networking event for up to 40 female and male feminist academics, research staff and PhD students. The focus of the day was to:
- Promote wider debate of what feminism can mean in academia and research,
- Provide a platform for feminist academics from a range of backgrounds (age, class, gender, ethnicity, discipline) to share their experiences,
- Bring discussions about feminism in universities into the open,
- Provide networking opportunities to help reduce feelings of isolation and possibly lead to future collaborative projects, particularly for early career researchers and
- Act as a pilot event for similar events in other regions in the UK.
The day featured talks on: feminism in the curriculum, undertaking feminist research, Why Feminism Matters and a Question Time style panel (chaired by Cath Elliott Guardian journalist and feminist campaigner). Speakers include Professor Kath Woodward (OU), Dr Sophie Woodward (Manchester), Dr. Alexandra Beauregard (LSE), Dr Su Holmes (UEA), Dr Sarah Churchwell (UEA), Professor Yvonne Tasker (UEA), Professor Mustafa Ozbilgin (UEA). In addition there were break out groups where delegates were able to engage in debate about the issues they feel are most important. The following topics of interesting were discussed;
- Feminism and career progression,
- Black feminism,
- Being openly feminist and relationships with students,
- Relationships with colleagues,
- Men and feminism.
The event was a great success and we thank all those who attended and contributed to the day.