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


In this section of the handbook we try to define what we mean by resistance,how gender intersects with resistance to change,
what are the main causes and indicators and what are some of the forms and symptoms of resistance.   

The notion of resistance constitutes one of the serious challenges ‎regarding organizational behavior and change. Kreitner (1992) suggests that change is ‎like “a stone tossed into a still pond, which causes ripples to radiate in all ‎directions with unpredictable consequences”. Resistance is ‎considered to be an outcome of such unpredictable consequences by which ‎individuals become directly affected. ‎It exists in ‎almost every organizational operation as an obstacle (Dent and Goldberg, 1999) and can be defined as a form of opposition or refusal that emerges during processes of change and that is aimed at maintaining the status quo (Lombardo and Mergaert, 2013, Mergaert and Lombardo, 2014). In this handbook, resistance specifically means opposition to the change that implementation of gender equality policies promotes.
As the opposition is associated with the actions or non-actions of the individuals they have generally been seen to be the core of the problem. Dent and Goldberg (1999) argue, however, that what ‎individuals actually resist may not be the change itself but the possibility to ‎lose status, loss of comfort or the idea of the unknown, which makes them feel ‎insecure.  Accordingly, the ‎main obstacle against change is related to the quality of the new vision that is ‎being implemented in an organization. Individuals are, therefore, not the sole cause of resistance to change and one ‎should carefully assess the role of the organization when implementing a new ‎structure. Institutions‎ can constrain actors’ possibilities to effectively implement the change strategies through the everyday norms and practices they enact (Cavaghan forthcoming, 2015; Mackay, 2011). 
In human sciences one of the main issues has been the relationship of resistance to power. Foucault (1978) suggests that where there is power, there is resistance; power affirms that there exists resistance and vice versa. Before starting to think about resistance, we have to take in mind that 'power is no longer considered a unitary, constant force that emanates from a particular social class or institution, rather it is seen as a more tenuous fabric of hegemonic forms' (Constable, 2007). Foucault (1978) questions our assumption that power is always and essentially repressive, he wants to show how power also can be positive in a way that it can produce forms of pleasure, systems of knowledge, goods, and discourses and that it not only works negatively, by denying, restricting, prohibiting and repressing (Abu-Lughod, 1990). The focus within studies of resistance too shifted from large-scale collective revolts to more unlikely forms of resistance such as subversions and small or local resistances which do not especially aim to overthrow the system and which do not result from ideologies of emancipation (Ibid.).
According to Foucault (1978) the existence of power relationships depends on a multiplicity of points of resistance: these play the role of adversary, target, support, or handle in power relations. But this does not mean that they are only a reaction or a rebound, forming with respect to the basic domination of an underside that is in the end always passive, doomed to perpetual defeat. Power does not just react to resistance, nor is it merely preceded by it: resistive tensions constitute power and lie at its very centre. “Resistance comes first, and resistance remains superior to the forces of the process; power relations are obliged to change with the resistance.” (Foucault, 1976, 1978). Foucault’s ideas can help to analyse and facilitate change in power relations in the organization. In this respect signs of resistance can serve as a practical warning signal indicating the specific arrangements that will be sustained or threatened by the change (Lawrence, 1969). Therefore, when resistance appears, it is time for a careful exploration of the difficulty to find out what the trouble is.                                                        
FESTA project started with the understanding that patriarchies produce resistance to equality struggles (FESTA, 2012). The power and norms of hegemonic groups within an institution not only facilitate particular (male) behaviors, but they also block or oppose change that gender initiatives promote (Kenny, 2011; Mackay, 2011). Processes of mainstreaming gender into organizations are likely to face particular resistance—argues Días Gonzáles (2001)—because the changes that gender mainstreaming requires actually challenge the norms, practices, and assumptions concerning the relations between men and women that work at the level of individual and institutional actors. According to Benschop and Verloo (2006), organizational resistance to change is a key reason for the ineffective implementation of gender mainstreaming.
Liff and Cameron (‎‎1997) ‎stress the importance of the culture in organizations as a social interaction and meaningful ‎and symbolic codes among members in a group. Although ‎organizational cultures have distinctive traits, they also draw on wider cultural ‎meanings. Gender plays an important role in organizational culture. Gender inequality is reproduced within organizations ‎through patterns of social interaction and the meanings that are attributed to ‎them. One of the main motives in gendered organizations is that some of the men ‎behave in an exclusionary way by sharing information only with other men ‎while excluding women, which points out the notion of “men’s club” networks and homosociality ‎‎(ibid.. Morley, 2013a, Morley, 2013b, O’Connor, 2011). 

While some men say that they ‎support equality, such an egalitarian discourse does not reflect onto practice ‎since they suggest that equality measures favor women (Liff and Cameron, ‎‎1997). In such cases resistance to change is often related to ‎men’s feeling of losing status and privilege. It also shows that there is a distinction between discourse and ‎practice, while some men and sometimes women may be eager to express statements regarding equality, ‎they may not actualize their stances on the level of action. In this regard, the ‎problem of non-action and privilege should not necessarily be considered as a personal ‎problem; they are rather problems that are outcomes of gendered ‎organizational cultures. ‎

It is increasingly recognized that universities are male-dominated organizations internationally (Husu, 2001) but STEM disciplines are even more so. “Western Science and technology are culturally masculinized. This is not just a question of personnel. The guiding metaphors of scientific research, the impersonality of its discourse, the structures of power and communication in science, the reproduction of its internal culture, all stem from the social position of dominant men in a gendered world” (Connell, 2005:6).

Experimental studies of curricula vitae evaluations, showed that both men and women rated the male candidate as more competent where the only difference on the application materials was gender (Moss-Racusin et al. 2012).  Sheltzer and Smith (2014) found that academic leaders in elite laboratories were significantly less likely to hire female postdoctoral trainees than their male counterparts, with consequences for such women’s subsequent careers. 

Many women and men in Prometea research reported that they do not believe that gender was a relevant factor in their careers. The majority of men neither discussed issues related to gender in their work environment nor they discussed gender genuinely as their problem. Some women resisted taking part in an initiative designed ‘for women’, because of the perception that supporting women is inevitably linked with positive discrimination policies (Prometea, 2008). Both male and female academics may therefore feel uncomfortable to come across a policy, ‎which is addressed towards women only. Some of the men, may be uneager to ‎provide open support, not to be considered as pro-feminists in gendered ‎environments, especially within the “men’s club” networks. The same can be true for female academics who do not want to be associated with anything connoting “women’s movement”.
Change Threatens People
...change is like a stone tossed into a still pond, which causes ripples to radiate in all direction with unpredictable consequences
...resistance as a form of opposition is considered to be an outcome of such unpredictable consequences by which individuals get directly affected
resistance specifically means here opposition to the change that implementation of gender equality policies promote.
Gendered Cultures & Masculine Networks
...one of the main motives in gendered organizations is that some of the men behave in an exclusionary behavior by sharing information only with other men while excluding women, which point out the notion of men’s club networks
.. male academics may feel uncomfortable to come across a policy, which is addressed towards women only. They also may feel uncomfortable to provide open support, not to be considered as pro-feminists in gendered environments, especially within the men’s club networks