Political Participation

2017 Oct 18

Behavioural Insights and Gender Equality in the UK

11:40am to 1:00pm

Location: 

Cason Seminar Room, Taubman 102

The UK Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and the Government Equalities Office (GEO) will present the UK Government's recent reforms to increase gender pay transparency and their new 2-year research collaboration on applying behavioural science to improving gender equality in the labour market. The aim of the session is to share knowledge of the reforms, present early results, source ideas and explore ways in which academics from Harvard could get involved in improving gender equality in the UK.

The session is aimed at faculty members and doctoral students whose work is generally...

Read more about Behavioural Insights and Gender Equality in the UK
MacKenzie, Megan H. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone. New York: NYU Press, 2012. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The eleven-year civil war in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 was incomprehensibly brutal—it is estimated that half of all female refugees were raped and many thousands were killed. While the publicity surrounding sexual violence helped to create a general picture of women and girls as victims of the conflict, there has been little effort to understand female soldiers' involvement in, and experience of, the conflict. Female Soldiers in Sierra Leone draws on interviews with 75 former female soldiers and over 20 local experts, providing a rare perspective on both the civil war and post-conflict development efforts in the country. Megan MacKenzie argues that post-conflict reconstruction is a highly gendered process, demonstrating that a clear recognition and understanding of the roles and experiences of female soldiers are central to both understanding the conflict and to crafting effective policy for the future.
MacKenzie, Megan. “Securitization and Desecuritization: Female Soldiers and the Reconstruction of Women in PostConflict Sierra Leone”. Security Studies 18.2 (2009): , 18, 2, 241-261. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This article focuses on the construction of “soldier” and “victim” by post-conflict programs in Sierra Leone. Focusing on the absence of individual testimonies and interviews that inform representations of women and girls post-conflict, this article demonstrates that the ideal of the female war victim has limited the ways in which female combatants are addressed by disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs in Sierra Leone. It is argued that titles given to female soldiers such as “females associated with the war,” “dependents,” or “camp followers” reveal the reluctance of reintegration agencies to identify females who participated in war as soldiers. In addition, I argue that men and masculinity are securitized post-conflict while women—even when they act in highly securitized roles such as soldiers—are desecuritized and, in effect, de-emphasized in post-conflict policy making. The impact of this categorization has been that the reintegration process for men has been securitized, or emphasized as an essential element of the transition from war to peace. In contrast, the reintegration process for females has been deemed a social concern and has been moralized as a return to normal.
Sjoberg, Laura, and Caron Gentry, ed. Women, Gender, and Terrorism (Studies in Security and International Affairs Ser.). Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the last decade the world has witnessed a rise in women’s participation in terrorism. Women, Gender, and Terrorism explores women’s relationship with terrorism, with a keen eye on the political, gender, racial, and cultural dynamics of the contemporary world.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, it was rare to hear about women terrorists. In the new millennium, however, women have increas­ingly taken active roles in carrying out suicide bombings, hijacking air­planes, and taking hostages in such places as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Chechnya. These women terrorists have been the subject of a substantial amount of media and scholarly attention, but the analysis of women, gender, and terrorism has been sparse and riddled with stereotypical thinking about women’s capabilities and motivations.

In the first section of this volume, contributors offer an overview of women’s participation in and relationships with contemporary terrorism, and a historical chapter traces their involvement in the politics and conflicts of Islamic societies. The next section includes empirical and theoretical analysis of terrorist movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, and Sri Lanka. The third section turns to women’s involvement in al Qaeda and includes critical interrogations of the gendered media and the scholarly presentations of those women. The conclusion offers ways to further explore the subject of gender and terrorism based on the contributions made to the volume.

Contributors to Women, Gender, and Terrorism expand our understanding of terrorism, one of the most troubling and complicated facets of the modern world.

Sjoberg, Laura, and Caron E. Gentry. Mothers, Monsters, Whores: Women's Violence in Global Politics. 1st ed. London: Zed Books, 2007. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Mothers, Monsters, Whores provides an empirical study of women's violence in global politics. The book looks at military women who engage in torture; the Chechen 'Black Widows'; Middle Eastern suicide bombers; and the women who directed and participated in genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. Sjoberg & Gentry analyse the biological, psychological and sexualized stereotypes through which these women are conventionally depicted, arguing that these are rooted in assumptions about what is 'appropriate' female behaviour. What these stereotypes have in common is that they all perceive women as having no agency in any sphere of life, from everyday choices to global political events.

This book is a major feminist re-evaluation of women's motivations and actions as perpetrators of political violence.
Sjoberg, Laura. Gendering Global Conflict: Toward a Feminist Theory of War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Laura Sjoberg positions gender and gender subordination as key factors in the making and fighting of global conflict. Through the lens ofgender, she examines the meaning, causes, practices, and experiences of war, building a more inclusive approach to the analysis of violent conflict between states.

Considering war at the international, state, substate, and individual levels, Sjoberg's feminist perspective elevates a number of causal variables in war decision-making. These include structural gender inequality, cycles of gendered violence, state masculine posturing, the often overlooked role of emotion in political interactions, gendered understandings of power, and states' mistaken perception of their own autonomy and unitary nature. Gendering Global Conflict also calls attention to understudied spaces that can be sites of war, such as the workplace, the household, and even the bedroom. Her findings show gender to be a linchpin of even the most tedious and seemingly bland tactical and logistical decisions in violent conflict. Armed with that information, Sjoberg undertakes the task of redefining and reintroducing critical readings of war's political, economic, and humanitarian dimensions, developing the beginnings of a feminist theory of war.
Sjoberg, Laura. “Agency, Militarized Femininity and Enemy Others: Observations From The War In Iraq”. International Feminist Journal of Politics 91 (2007): , 9, 1, 82-101. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this era of the increasing importance of gender, many conflicting images of women populate news headlines and political discourses. In the 2003 war in Iraq, Americans saw images of a teenage woman as a war hero, of a female general in charge of a military prison where torture took place, of women who committed those abuses, of male victims of wartime sexual abuse and of the absence of gender in official government reactions to the torture at Abu Ghraib. I contend that several gendered stories from the 2003 war in Iraq demonstrate three major developments in militarized femininity in the United States: increasing sophistication of the ideal image of the woman soldier; stories of militarized femininity constructed in opposition to the gendered enemy; and evident tension between popular ideas of femininity and women’s agency in violence. I use the publicized stories of American women prisoners of war and American women prison guards to substantiate these observed developments.
Brescoll, Victoria L., and Tyler G. Okimoto. “The Price of Power: Power Seeking and Backlash Against Female Politicians”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 36.7 (2010): , 36, 7, 923-936. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Two experimental studies examined the effect of power-seeking intentions on backlash toward women in political office. It was hypothesized that a female politician’s career progress may be hindered by the belief that she seeks power, as this desire may violate prescribed communal expectations for women and thereby elicit interpersonal penalties. Results suggested that voting preferences for female candidates were negatively influenced by her power-seeking intentions (actual or perceived) but that preferences for male candidates were unaffected by power-seeking intentions. These differential reactions were partly explained by the perceived lack of communality implied by women’s power-seeking intentions, resulting in lower perceived competence and feelings of moral outrage. The presence of moral-emotional reactions suggests that backlash arises from the violation of communal prescriptions rather than normative deviations more generally. These findings illuminate one potential source of gender bias in politics.

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