Developing arts-based interventions into everyday sexism in the academy

Year: 2016

Author: Gray, Emily, Knight, Linda, Blaise, Mindy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research shows that there is not a ‘level playing field’ for women in academia (Diezmann and Grieshaber, 2010 & 2013; Peetz et al. 2014; Winchester et al. 2006). The inequalities faced by women in academia can be evidenced by a dearth of women in the upper echelons of university management and the professoriate, where, in Australia, men outnumber women by a ratio of 1 to 3. Armato (2013) argues that such positioning encompasses a kind of academic masculinity where men dominate discussion, particularly around theory; dominate physical and discursive spaces; frame statements as questions; and position women as ‘fragile’ through speech acts such as apologising for swearing or calling female colleagues and peers ‘ladies’ or ‘girls’. Others have argued that the climate for women in academia is ‘chilly’ (i.e., less than welcoming), prompting academics at Canada’s Western University to form a Chilly Collective to challenge sexism in the academy (The Chilly Collective, 1995) and to argue that there is a need to take action and to challenge this kind of ‘everyday sexism’ as it happens. We present on a project that set out to not only respond to the current research about women working in academia but also to engage with and mobilize the experiences of cisgender and trans* women who work within the discipline of education, including teacher education, at the university level. Our project gathered the experiences of women education scholars to raise awareness of the discrimination that both cisgender and trans* women face in the academy. Women academics, across different career stages (postgraduate-Professors) gathered at two research-creation forums to produce practical, effective, everyday feminist interventions to sexism in the academic workplace to share their personal experiences of sexism in the academic workplace through using feminist art interventionist methodologies to produce everyday feminist interventions.