Lecture of Prof. Dr Jeff Hearn “Men and Masculinities in Academia, Higher Education and Science”

Gender inequalities persist in higher education. Gender and gender relations do not only concern the categories of women and girls; they also concern the categories of men and boys, as well as further gendered and sexual categories such as LGBTIQ+ people. In this presentation, Prof. Dr. Jeff Hearn focused on neither “women as the problem” nor “gender mainstreaming” as “the solution” to gender inequalities in higher education, but rather on the gendering of men, even the “problem of men”, in academia, higher education and science. You might imagine that it is quite difficult to talk about and discuss what happens in higher education and the academy without discussing men, masculinities and men’s practices, but this appears not to be so. This contrasts with debates in some countries on “failing boys”. Indeed many debates and documents on gender equality in academia are strangely silent on the question of men, that is, the majority of academics working there, especially at more senior and leadership levels: men are an “absent presence”. This careless avoidance, less or more conscious, is certainly rife in mainstream academia and “normal science”, and in turn mainstream, “normal” analyses thereof. So, in fact this avoidance seems to be rather easy – or at least rather easy to do without discussing men, masculinities and men’s practices in any kind of explicitly gendered way. Naming men as men in academia still seems to be an obvious, yet awkward and uncomfortable task for many of those concerned in both academia and policy-making. Prof. Dr. Hearn reflected on this in terms of long-term experience of working in different European countries, with different educational and research systems, yet also some pervasive similarities. Approaching the question of gender (in)equalities in this way is a matter of everyday experience, hard work in the academy, policy and politics, and challenging and difficult theo-rising – and their interrelations. Without attending to such questions, what likelihood is there of reducing gender inequalities in higher education?

Dr. Jeff Hearn is Senior Professor, Gender Studies, Örebro University, Sweden; Professor of Sociology, University of Huddersfield, UK; Professor Emeritus, Hanken School of Economics, Finland; honorary doctor, Social Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. He was part of the EU Gender and Excellence in the Making report 2004, as well as EU projects genSET (gender equality in science and technology) and Gen-Port (Gender and STI Portal). His many books include: Gender, Sexuality and Violence in Organizations, 2001; The Limits of Gendered Citizenship, 2011; Rethinking Transnational Men, 2013.