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Gender in the Neo-liberal Research Economy: An Enervating and Exclusionary Entanglement?

Abstract

In this article, I discuss the gendered implications of the neo-liberal research economy. I explore the complexities and contradictions of neo-liberal discourse and how it has become entangled with higher education in general, and with the research economy in particular. Drawing on critical literature, questionnaires and discussion data from women at diverse academic career stages gathered in British Council seminars in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Dubai, I argue that neo-liberalism has been installed via material, discursive and affective means. This includes funding and employment regimes and the stimulation of a range of emotions including fear, shame, competitiveness and pride. A focus will be on how academic research is aligned with the political economy of neo-liberalism. In the context of unbundling and the uberisation of higher education, research is now a major vehicle for performance management and a product or service valued for its commercial, market and financial benefits. When this is added to the ongoing misrecognition and underrepresentation of women as research leaders, there are dangers of a highly gendered and exclusionary research economy. I conclude that neo-liberalism is not essentially male, but that it has reinforced male dominance of the research economy by valuing and rewarding the areas and activities in which certain men have traditionally succeeded.

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Neo-liberalism
  • Research Economy
  • Feminist Knowledge
  • Global Academy

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the British Council for enabling and facilitating the empirical research, the 72 women participants in this study, and Heike Kahlert for inviting and editing this article.

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Morley, L. (2018). Gender in the Neo-liberal Research Economy: An Enervating and Exclusionary Entanglement?. In: Kahlert, H. (eds) Gender Studies and the New Academic Governance. Springer VS, Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-19853-4_2

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