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The Australian National University

Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences

GESS project summary

Feminist scholarship has been central to the international success and prominence of the Australian social sciences. But how effective has feminist critique been in reshaping what counts as authoritative knowledge in the disciplines?

Women in the Australian economy: Reconceptualising women’s place in the public sphere

Feminist historians have complicated any clear binary between the public and private spheres, redefining concepts such as ‘work’ and ‘politics’, and revealing their gendered constructions to provide more inclusive histories.

New ways to measure economic activity: Breastfeeding as an economic indicator

Breastfeeding and human milk provides an archetypical illustration of how feminist economic analysis has contributed new ways of thinking, and approaches to policymaking.

Feminist economics and retirement income and savings policy

Historically, the discipline of economics has neglected subjects that particularly affect women. Resulting policies have produced a very high level of gender inequality in retirement income.

Gendered perspectives on Anzac

The Anzac legend is the most popular and pervasive symbol of Australian nationhood. Innovative gendered perspectives expand our understanding of the Great War and challenge the dominance of the Anzac legend in the national iconography.

The individual deprivation measure: A gender sensitive approach to multi-dimensional poverty measurement

Feminist intervention has shown that women and men experiencing poverty differently.

Smoking as a gendered activity

Smoking is one of the major public health issues that has been productively addressed by feminist social science research.

About the project

Gender equity has still not been realised, despite decades of activism, policy and research. In some of the social sciences women make up less than 15 per cent of the professoriate. Yet these are the disciplines that should most aid our understanding of how gender works in society. This project asks what impact women’s limited influence and status in these key fields of research has upon our capacity to grapple with the social and political changes necessary for progress toward gender equality. In doing so, it builds persuasive arguments about how and why gender matters in the social sciences.

The project takes a new approach to advancing gender equity within Australian society by asking how well we can understand the problems if we do not first address patterns of gender bias within the social sciences. The project provides a complex picture of why social science disciplines differ so markedly in this respect and the costs for disciplinary innovation and social change. It also provides case-studies of gender innovation in the social sciences and its benefits.


Updated:  7 November, 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute