Failure to Launch? Feminist Endeavors as a Partial Academic

  • Heather Shipley
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


What constitutes ‘success’ in academia and how has that notion shifted in the last decade? The norms of transitioning from post-graduate studies into a lectureship or professorship have changed in an environment where those posts are decreasingly available and where many scholars become employed in non-academic posts while simultaneously engaging in academic endeavors. In the midst of this changing landscape, the inherent tension between being a feminist and participating in a competitive academic environment further complicates traditional notions about ‘success.’ The tension of being a feminist in an academic space begins in student life with the expectation that we are all competing with one another (for grades, for that conference slot, for a publication) and becomes a deeply entrenched aspect of academic life once the degree has been completed. Drawing on the ups and downs of life as a partial academic, holding a non-academic post and yet using personal time to continue to engage in academic endeavors, I will consider the ways the academic environment—while theoretically promoting feminism through feminist programs—as a system itself undermines and devalues feminist pursuits, rewarding instead decidedly nonfeminist goals through competition and individual achievement over group endeavors. Redefining what counts as academic success is the result both of a shifting employment market and of feminist engagement within a system that rewards un-feminist goals and aspirations; notions about success and failure within feminist academic endeavors subsequently recast what it is to ‘be’ an academic today.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather Shipley
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion, York UniversityTorontoCanada

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