Stretched across career stages: feminist collaborations in higher education

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Career stage categories shape academic labour, and laboring academic subjects. 'Early' 'mid' and 'established' career stages offer an institutional framework through which entitlements, responsibilities, and mobilities can be claimed and contested by feminists working in higher education. Inhabiting these categories uncritically however, can serve to reproduce neoliberal academic structures that feminists may seek to resist and rework. In this context, collaboration across career stages offers a key empirical case for understanding how feminists and feminisms occupy academic space. This paper uses auto-ethnographic methods to read categorical career stages and feminist collaboration through each other, analysing the authors' own cross-career stage collaborations and mentoring relationship. We ask how and whether feminist collaboration and the often unrecognised labour of mentorship can both claim and disrupt mythical narratives of the competitively achieving individual on a smooth upwards trajectory through career stages. We explore how the temporal logic of career stages – where academic entrance and achievement, 'arrival', 'becoming', and 'belonging' can feel permanently deferred (Pereira 2016, Taylor 2014, Thwaites and Pressland 2017) or as a missed opportunity ('I'm too late') - is marked by gender and class. The paper argues for more pluralised and fragmented understandings of 'career stages', which as fixed categories work to position academics as either precarious or privileged, and for a messier imaginary of academic careers.
Period10 Apr 2018
Event titleBritish Sociological Association Annual Conference 2018: Identity, Community and Social Solidarity
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational