Call for the Institutionalisation of Gender Studies in Higher Education Research and Policy Guidelines, october 2012

As in most Western countries, research and studies about women’s issues were first developed in France in the wake of the 1970s feminist movement. New international and European dynamics favoured the creation of Gender Studies: the Peking International Conference (1995) as well as pressure in Europe to include “gender” in research, education, and calls for tender by universities with ESF funding have all led to a veritable legislative and regulatory impetus in favour of equality through the establishment of laws on parity, action plans, and the promotion of a new policy on gender mainstreaming.

As such, gender identifies a research topic (that is to say, all processes that result in gender inequalities), but also an analytical approach that is used to flush out androcentric biases in research (i.e., the problematic methodologies that either don’t account for women, or that produce results that are only applicable to men, even though they are said to be universal).

The foundations of higher education and research were laid at a time when the research landscape and organisation in higher education were going through a period of radical transformation, namely through the development of a research funding policy organised around the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) — an evaluation policy coordinated by the AERES — and the growing independence of universities. It is crucial to identify the recent and not so recent processes that restrict and even prevent the development and the institutionalisation of feminist or gender studies and research. A number of factors serve to explain why France is lagging in this regard.

Feminist and Gender Studies and research are often discredited and ostracised within the scientific community. Routinely accused of being militant, these disciplines are devalued or negatively judged. Meanwhile, public authorities and community organisations require applied research that can inform public policy with regards to gender equality. Research in this field is almost exclusively conducted by women.

Sexual discrimination in professional contexts and working conditions in academia are not exempt — these environments also contribute to the devaluation of work produced by women. It is therefore important to focus on the processes underlying any resistance to develop studies on gender, as well as the resulting discrimination against women, to make effective proposals to achieve greater gender equality in society, research, and education.

The Association nationale des études féministes (ANEF) has received financial support from SDFE (Service pour le droit des femmes), the Mission de la parité et de la lutte contre les discriminations (Mipadi, under the Ministère de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche), as well as the CNRS’s Mission pour la place des femmes. This funding was used to conduct a project to identify the actions that need to be taken in order to strengthen, develop and institutionalise gender research and education, but also to fight professional gender inequalities in higher education and research. This summary is followed by the 2013
publication of a work developing the proposals outlined within.

Upload [pdf, 19 p.]: Call for the institutionalisation of gender studies