Female Empowerment in
Science and Tecnology Academia
Handbook On Resistance
To Gender Equality In Academia
Festa Resistance And Gender Main Causes & Indicators Main Forms & Symptoms Recommendations Analysis Of Stories Conclusion & References

MAIN CAUSES & INDICATORS

The list of the main causes of resistance to gender mainstreaming initiatives is an attempt to cover both the ones inspired by literature and those observed in the FESTA implementations. In many cases there are several overlapping reasons behind the resistance and in some of the others it is difficult to distinguish which is the real cause. As a general resistance to change is hard to distinguish from the resistance to work towards gender equality, the list below refers to both forms of resistance. 
SENSITIVITIES AND RISKS
Confidentiality, Insecurity, Anxiety
Institutions may have their own policies or principles to maintain confidentiality in the workplace. Even when there is no explicit institutional policy on confidentiality, managers/academics can feel insecure as they feel anxiety and uncertainty about how the change will affect them, their job status, their social relationships, and other work related factors (Baker, 1989, Moss Kanter, 1985). Gender training as a part of the mainstreaming program creates resistance, since during the implementation of gender training, individuals’ personal identities and beliefs are challenged as it provokes people to stay critical of their own gender roles (Lombardo and Mergaert,2013). Resistance can also originate from a feeling of ‘incapacity’ that is caused by a lack of gender knowledge (Mergaert, 2012).
 
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Resistance to Share Information 
Mistrust
People will resist change if they believe those responsible for the change are not to be trusted, either because they do not have their best interests at heart, or because they are not being open and honest with them about the change and its impact (Hultman, 2014). Sometimes mistrust between core functions and central support functions are based in past resentments (Moss Kanter, 1985). Resistance may, thus, be caused by lack of trust with the positions of the project team in the organization and not by the project itself. In such cases past resentments must be overcome first in order to build commitment to change. Mistrust may also be directed towards institutionalization of gender equality functions. Such units as commissions, committees, centers or positions which are established for the institutionalization of gender equality/balance may not be welcomed easily by the rest of the structure and considered redundant. 
 
 
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Resistance to Share Information 
 
Loss of Face
According to Moss Kanter (2012), change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version — the one that didn’t work, or the one that’s being superseded — are likely to be defensive about it. When change involves a big shift of strategic direction, the people responsible for the previous direction dread the perception that they must have been wrong. Leaders can help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring, and making it clear that the world has changed. 
 
 
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STATUS QUO
Simply being comfortable with their present ways of doing things some people find it easier to do things the way they always have rather than to operate differently.
Threat to Job Status
Contribution to a gender equality project can be one of the most important ‎challenges in an academic working environment since especially the male academics may feel ‎that their privileges will come to an end (Pendlebury, Grouard and Meston, 1998) because of more (female) competitors in promotion or in hiring processes for future jobs. Possibility of losing chances for promotion because of quotas for men academics or feeling unfair and uncomfortable to be promoted by the quota implementation for women academics create considerable resistance in different forms (Lombardo and Mergaert, 2013).

 
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Threat to Meritocracy
The idea of meritocracy as the key element of academic discourse is considered to be universal and gender neutral. Any attempt to advance a career on other grounds than individual achievement, e.g. gender quotas, is considered a challenge to the objectivity/meritocracy of science. However, meritocracy implies selection and exclusion (Morley and Lugg, 2009) and defining the merit of one academic cannot be always independent from his/her gender. According to Jack (2009) ‘Gender neutrality’ in STEM refers to arguments that deny, overlook or explain away women’s under-representation in male dominated areas as symptomatic of women’s own failings, rather than acknowledging systematic, institutional and cultural inequalities. Therefore, gender equality projects aiming to remove barriers for women or strengthen their capacities or proposing quotas often are viewed by the academics as threats to meritocracy.
 
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Conformity
High sense of conformity, disregard or underestimation of differing opinions can also raise resistance. A situation and/or topic that is new to the resistant person can be experienced as a stressor, simply because it is a new topic or method (Lamm and Gordon, 2010). The feeling of a permanent change can increase the feeling of inconvenience, in particular when the work that is connected to change seems to be without any use and has to be done in addition to everyday work (Kriegesmann and Kley, 2014). Giving up one’s own habits and changing environment can thus increase discomfort which makes some people to resist against any kind of change.

 
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LIMITED RESOURCES
According to Sirkin, Keen and Jackson (2005) some of the hard factors that affect a transformation initiative are the time necessary to complete it, the number of people required to execute it, and the financial results that intended actions are expected to achieve. Their research showed that change projects fail to get off the ground when companies neglect the hard factors. As far as the gender equality projects are concerned it has been observed that many officials did not consider it necessary redistribute power and to channel relatively scarce resources to women (Razavi and Miller, 1995, Moser, 1993).
Financial Resources
“Organizations with inadequate resources prefer to maintain their status quo since change requires capital and personnel with appropriate skills and time” (Ylmaz and Klçolu, 2013). Management has therefore a critical role in preparing the organizations by investing sufficient resources (Zafar and Naveed, 2014) in the change.

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Human Resources
Limited human resources may be the end result of financial constraints but are not restricted to them. Tasks which are left to personal commitment can also be met with resistance due to insufficient human resources. This type of resistance against gender projects can also be the result of a limited number of personnel appointed to the gender group who are involved in various other responsibilities. Although they may not have time to respond to all the requests, wrong or inadequate management of resources in such cases may be the real cause of resistance.

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Time Burdens
Every source of resistance related to a lack of time in terms of different priorities belongs under this heading. Making the necessary arrangements in the organizations can take very long just because managers may not spare time to meet. Thus, it is important for managers to be particularly sensitive to this issue, and to critically examine if they have supported the innovation by providing all necessary resources be it money, time, and personnel (Baker, 1989). In gendered academic cultures time burdens due to heavy workloads often provide academics with a convenient excuse for refusal to participate in the activities concerning gender projects or conceal the low priority assigned to such endeavors. 
 
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GENDERED AGENDA
Lack of Gender Awareness / Gender Blindness
Individuals may resist a certain change because there may be a lack ‎of awareness of the problem (Pendlebury, Grouard, and Meston, 1998). ‎The aspect of awareness is ‎especially important for gendered dynamics of academia since many ‎academics, either male or female, may internalize the existing state of affairs ‎and may not have the urge for change. When academics fail to understand the gender focus in change projects aiming for a more diverse and equal working environment, they may tend to ignore `gender`, find it irrelevant (Rhoton, 2011), stamp gender equality policies as superfluous or resist the change itself.

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Being Uncomfortable with Gender Equality/Fear of Gender Issues/ Gender Hostility
While gender blindness can often be unconscious, the masculinist character of science with its stress on objective knowledge created by purportedly de-gendered scientists (O’Connor, 2014; Rhoton, 2011) may also lead to conscious or even hostile reactions. Organizational actors are uncomfortable with gender, because, as Ridgeway (2011) argues ‘gender is at root a status inequality – an inequality between culturally defined types of people’. Thus stereotypical cultural beliefs do not simply define men and women as different; they implicitly define men as superior to women. This differential valuation extends further beyond individual men and women, so that male-dominated organizations or those that reflect and reinforce men’s priorities and lifestyles are most valued (Thornton, 2013). The influence of the organizational culture where stakeholders feel uncomfortable to talk and work on gender equality shows a sign of gender hostility. 
 
Moreover, in many academic institutions gender is seen as a field of interest that lies outside science – not as an integral part of ‘doing science’ and as ‘women’s business’ – as though men do not have gender. Academic leaders can thus marginalize or exclude a gender project by not letting researchers present the project at department and faculty meetings. Individuals may also resist ‎gender training since they may consider this training as a feminist act that is ‎ideological, rather than describing it as rational, scientific or legal. The ‎resistance may be prolonged if the individual feels that s/he is being subjected to the exercise of power from /‎manipulated by the trainer, which is a problem of rhetorics and persuasion ‎‎(Lombardo and Mergaert, 2013).
 
Drawing attention to gender by the presence of minority women creates discomfort even for women. For women, there is an unease with being different in a male-dominated area. Women can most comfortably become part of such masculinist structures by becoming pseudo-males (Schippers, 2007), by ‘distancing’ themselves from other women scientists and from what is perceived as feminine (Rhoton, 2011), because drawing attention to gender exacerbates their marginal position (Jack, 2009). Thus, they often support the supposed gender neutrality of science and avoid being perceived as someone who might be politically engaged in ‘women’s issues’ (McIlwee and Robinson, 1992).
 
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PROBLEMS RELATED TO SUSTAINABILITY
Slow Improvement
The feeling of exhaustion may be related to a perception of projects as an extra-burden in general. Such a perception, on the other hand, changes according to how useful the project is considered. People can also lose excitement if things move slow as is the case in achieving gender balance or if they do not see any concrete benefits of the previous projects. Sharing good practices may be very significant in restoring academics’ motivation in such cases.
 
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Being Tired/ Feeling Hopeless
Dagmar Recklies (2014) points that “people within the change team may become dissatisfied with their own performance or with the lack of support they received”. In the result, the people who have been in the process might feel tired and/or hopeless to commit themselves to a change initiative. Or, the unsuccessful change can make people skeptic towards new ones. “They might perceive future change projects as “another fancy idea from management”, which brings a lot of work and few benefits”.

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Changes of Personnel in Functional Roles
The support of the personnel in functional roles plays an important role in the sustainability of the gender equality or mainstreaming projects. In especially the organizations where gender equality is not the target at an institutional level, change of personnel in managerial positions may cause resistance. Even when the gender equality is institutionalized the new position holders may not feel as supportive as the former ones owing to personal or cultural reasons.
 
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Illusion of Having Done Enough
The implementation of legal improvements for gender equality in the organization may not be enough to guarantee the success of the change projects that have a gender perspective. However, as the organization has already taken several steps in this direction, the people (both at the top and the bottom) may hold the illusion that the institution has fulfilled its obligations. Gender projects may thus not be seen as novel or needed any more.

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PERSONAL TRAITS
Low Motivation/Lack of Interest
If those affected by the change believe that the anticipated negative consequences of the change outweigh the positive consequences, resistance to movement is almost guaranteed (Hitt, Black & Porter 2005). We can assume that this is because of a lack of extrinsic or intrinsic motives, in particular because they probably see no need for implementing gender balance measures and/or there is no instrument available to show the appreciation of this kind of work. Low motivation or lack of interest seem to be relevant in cases where individuals or a whole group like faculty members are invited to a one-time occasion or asked for appointments and no responses are recorded. Especially when dealing with high-level position-holders such reactions that may not be strictly related to gender but to an actual and different level of priority may be expected. Low motivation or lack of interest from the top, too, often fuels disinterest and disengagement among the staff at other functional levels in the organization – or it does nothing to regulate it.
 
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Low Priority
People may have different priorities and therefore not have time to invest in gender equality activities. They may also be pushed to accomplish tasks that are considered more important by the management even when no particular opposition to gender equality projects exists. Just as in the cases of low motivation or lack of interest when top managers do not consider gender as one of their priorities, it will also affect other people’s prioritization.

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Lack of Engagement
Lack of engagement seems to be a result of a withdrawal of engagement despite displays of interest. Such withdrawal may be overtly grounded in the persons not feeling academically qualified to have any opinion on the matter, whereas covert reasons could be that they fear the judgment of peers for sticking out one’s neck on behalf of at best a controversial issue, at worst a frivolous and dubious business, which will damage one’s reputation and possibilities for being taken seriously as a researcher – and therefore with implications for future collaboration options, career opportunities etc. Lack of engagement is something which can be objectively observed as lack of actions, initiative, responsivity and ultimately priority.

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Lack of Self-Confidence
The initiation of and engagement in gender equality projects as in every change process requires self-confident actors. In addition to the socialization patterns women have undergone, the meeting cultures, structures and the power plays in the organizations frequently act to inhibit such abilities and aspirations. Thus even the female positon holders in the higher education and research institutions may not be exempt from the lack of self-confidence constraining the action and dedication that gender projects require.

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Looking for Benefit/Profit
People may approach projects in a career-centered way looking for the short-term benefits of such undertakings. They tend to neglect or ignore the long-term effects involved in a particular project. When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved, they may show resistance.

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