Feminine men and masculine women: in/exclusion in the academy

Liz Atkins, Mark Vicars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - This paper draws on concepts of ‘female masculinity’ to interrogate how hegemonic gendering discourses, forms, and performances are inscribed in neoliberal narratives of competency in higher education in the Western Hemisphere. Design - Drawing on individual examples, we consider how these narratives are omnipresent in the sector, and systematically act to exclude those who do not conform. In doing so, we draw extensively on bodies of literature exploring gender/ identity, and neo-liberalism. In particular, the paper draws on the work of Halberstam (1998, 2011), and of Drake (2014). Findings - There are comparatively few women in senior positions in Higher Education and we argue that as gendering institutions they reproduce hegemonic gendering discourses. We find that hegemonic gendering discourses are instrumental in maintaining and privileging specific forms and perceptions of masculinity and femininity as inscribed within and reproduced by perceptions of professional competency. Value - This paper examines neo-liberal practices from a more nuanced perspective than some traditional polarised critiques which regard gender as a binary. In doing so, it contributes to debates on masculinity, but more importantly, opens discussions about the implications of gendering discourses for the role of the few women in senior positions in higher education institutions globally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-262
JournalEducation + Training
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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