Being in the academy: A cross generational conversation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This article aims to develop the methodological and intellectual approach taken in the authors' co-authored book to explore the synergies and disconnections in the experience of being in the academy at different historical moments using the inter-relationship between different feminisms in the context of the authors' lived experiences as a mother and daughter whose experience of the academy has crossed second-wave feminism into third wave. There have been significant demographic, cultural and legislative shifts, but the authors' conversations demonstrate the endurance of imbalances of power and the continuing need for a feminist politics of difference which can engage with contemporary life in the academy. Design/methodology/approach - This is primarily a theoretical paper that adopts feminist approaches to reflection and dialogue. The article is designed to bring together lived experience across generations, feminist theories and methodologies and the implications for activism. The paper uses the device of "I-Kath I-Sophie" as part of an autoethnographic approach to the cross-generational conversation. Findings - Far from being redundant, the authors argue that feminist critiques of inequalities that are often manifest in women's invisibility and silence even in the academy in the twenty-first century - there is still the need to support a politics of difference and to explore ways of giving women a voice. The persistence of inequalities means that feminist battles have not been entirely won. The authors argue for dialogue between the feminisms of mothers and daughters. Research limitations/implications - Feminist concepts and arguments from what has been called the "second wave" are still useful, especially in relation to maintaining the category woman as a speaking subject who can engage in collective action. Practical implications - The authors' arguments support the continuation of spaces for women to share experience within the academy, for example in feminist reading groups and through women's networks. Social implications - Feminist theories and activism remain important political forces for women in the academy today and post feminism is a questionable conceptualisation and phenomenon. In times when feminist battles may seem to have been won there remain issues to explore in relation to a new problem with no name. Originality/value - The article is original in its authorship, methodological approach to a conversation that crosses experience and theoretical frameworks across generations and in its support for a twenty-first century politics of difference. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-451
Number of pages16
JournalEquality, Diversity and Inclusion
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2012