Kadri Aavik:
Doing Neoliberalism on Campus: The Vulnerability of Gender Equality Mechanisms in Estonian Academia [130]

« volume 18, number 1/2017: Gender in/and the Neoliberal University: Transnational Processes and Localised Impacts

Aavik, Kadri. 2017. „Doing Neoliberalism on Campus: The Vulnerability of Gender Equality Mechanisms in Estonian Academia.“ Gender a výzkum / Gender and Research 18 (1): 130-153, http://dx.doi.org/10.13060/25706578.2017.18.1.353

This paper explores the construction of a gendered neoliberal rationality in post-socialist academic settings. Drawing on interviews conducted with key stakeholders in four major Estonian universities, I trace how three key gender equality policy measures are conceptualised – quotas, workplace flexibility, and the involvement of men in efforts towards gender equality. The findings suggest that Estonian academic stakeholders fill these key gender equality policy ideas with meanings that distort the original purpose of these solutions, and thereby render these policy ideas counter-productive as mechanisms designed to bring about change in gender relations. Instead, these conceptualisations serve the interests of the neoliberal university, enabling and reinforcing the atomisation and exploitation of academic labourers, particularly women. Collectively, these articulations constitute, along with other practices, the ‘doing of neoliberalism’ in post-socialist university settings. Academic stakeholders do not (just) reflect an already established totalising neoliberal framework, but in fact discursively (and materially) create and reproduce what we have come to understand and refer to as ‘neoliberalism’ in academia. This has implications for devising and implementing gender equality policies in higher education in the post-socialist region, as the solutions applied elsewhere in Europe may not work in the same way in Central-Eastern Europe.

Keywords: gender, Estonia, academics, neoliberalism, gender equality policy, post-socialism

 

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