Feminist critical friends: dilemmas of feminist engagement with governance and gender reform agendas

Authors:
Louise ChappellUniversity of New South Wales, Australia

Search for other papers by Louise Chappell in
Current site
Google Scholar
Close
and
Fiona MackayUniversity of Edinburgh, UK

Search for other papers by Fiona Mackay in
Current site
Google Scholar
Close
Full Access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

This article advances the concept of ‘feminist critical friends’ as a descriptor for those studying the efforts of ‘insider’ gender justice advocates working to transform governance structures and advance gender reform agendas within political, social, economic and military institutions. In refining the concept of feminist critical friendship, we reject perspectives that overstate the failures and ‘co-option’ that comes with engagement, while also resisting voluntarist versions that cede too much influence to feminist insiders. We pay attention to, and take seriously, the small wins that are achieved against the gendered, institutional and political odds, and recognise that sometimes, though not always, these can align to produce significant shifts in the gendered status quo. The article seeks to unpack the who, what, why and how of feminist critical friendship in order to advance this as a productive standpoint for feminist researchers interested in analysing processes of institutional stasis and change.

Abstract

This article advances the concept of ‘feminist critical friends’ as a descriptor for those studying the efforts of ‘insider’ gender justice advocates working to transform governance structures and advance gender reform agendas within political, social, economic and military institutions. In refining the concept of feminist critical friendship, we reject perspectives that overstate the failures and ‘co-option’ that comes with engagement, while also resisting voluntarist versions that cede too much influence to feminist insiders. We pay attention to, and take seriously, the small wins that are achieved against the gendered, institutional and political odds, and recognise that sometimes, though not always, these can align to produce significant shifts in the gendered status quo. The article seeks to unpack the who, what, why and how of feminist critical friendship in order to advance this as a productive standpoint for feminist researchers interested in analysing processes of institutional stasis and change.

Key messages

  • Feminist critical friends – who are they? What do they do? Read about the ‘entangled’ relationship between feminist academics and gender insiders.

  • We offer a productive standpoint for feminist academics wanting to assess those re-gendering political, economic and social institutions.

  • Engaged feminism and critical feminism do not constitute a dichotomy. ‘Critical friends’ can be engaged and critical.

Introduction

Governance structures at all levels are significant sites for the promotion of gender equality and gender justice, while also contributing to the (re)production of inequality and injustice. Gender justice advocates have worked as observers and allies within these contexts, working to shift existing gendered rules to advance women’s equality. Such advocates have worked on the inside as feminist bureaucrats, legislators and jurists in efforts to ‘re-gender’ powerful social, economic, military and political institutions.

The work of these feminist advocates has been a focus of study for a range of engaged feminist academics and researchers who are interested in understanding where and when particular strategies work, and in assessing the capacity for (and barriers to) gender transformation within international, regional, state and sub-state arenas. These ‘engaged’ researchers are often also ‘entangled’ with the work of insider gender advocates in terms of normatively supporting their objectives, while also seeking to maintain an independent and analytical approach in studying the processes of institutional change, including the efforts of insider gender advocates. We have previously suggested that the concept of ‘critical friend’ (Costa and Kallick, 1993) neatly captures the aspirations and dilemmas of these researchers, and sketched out our understanding of the concept of feminist critical friendship (FCF) (Chappell and Mackay, 2015). In this article, we advance and refine these ideas. Rather than positing engaged feminism and critical feminism in opposition, we argue that ‘critical friends’ can be engaged and critical. In doing so, we reject some trends of feminist critique – those promoting a ‘strong co-optation thesis’ (Eschle and Maiguashca, 2018) that appears to foreclose the possibility of feminist resistance, especially to the hegemony of neoliberalism, from within (see Connell, 2014). Instead, our approach is committed to making contextual judgements about ‘small wins’ (Eyben and Turquet, 2013, after Weick, 1984) and ‘small acts’ (Duncanson, 2013) against the gendered, institutional and political odds, and understanding that such small wins can add up to produce transformations in institutional gender in sites of governance. The approach is both mindful of the precarious nature and marginal position of actors, norms and rules that aim to challenge the gendered status quo from within, and committed to an ethos of offering constructive responses to the challenges, contradictions and failures faced by gender justice insiders that can arise in seeking to shift gendered power relations (see also Holvikivi, 2019: 140).

We suggest that the value of FCF from a methodological point of view is that it offers researchers a mid-position between uncompromising critique about oppressive (gendered and/or patriarchal) structures and monolithic (neoliberal) logics, on the one hand, and overly positive, actor-centric and voluntaristic accounts of gender change, on the other. Our intervention also seeks to shift the emphasis found in many analyses about the power of ideology. This is especially so with regard to liberalism/neoliberalism, to the extent that it is understood to operate through the state and the international order to entrap and co-opt feminist actors who engage with these governance institutions. Instead, we reflect upon the opportunities for feminist agency and strategy in capitalising on ambiguities, ‘soft spots’ and internal contradictions in ways that open new possibilities and pathways for shifting the gender status quo (for a nuanced discussion, see Eschle and Maiguashca, 2018; on the complexities of neoliberalism, see Connell, 2014).

FCF, we suggest, is an especially valuable standpoint for those undertaking a feminist institutionalist approach in their research, that is, those who seek to identify and account for the effect of gender legacies on institutional design and implementation, and the gendered impact of the formal and informal ‘rules of the game’ on policy outcomes (see, for example, Mackay et al, 2010; Krook and Mackay, 2011; Lowndes, 2014, 2019; Waylen, 2018). Taking careful note of contextual constraints and incremental shifts in gender practices and outcomes, feminist critical friends seek to avoid overburdening feminist insiders with unrealistic expectations or making overly generalised claims about policy successes or failures. Rather, they pay attention to the position of feminist actors in institutional settings, the pendulum movement back and forward between small wins and losses, and the cumulative effect of these over time. We argue that this approach provides for a close and nuanced reading of institutional stasis and change, including the ever-present potential of co-optation, to be sure, alongside the possibility (but never a guarantee) of incremental transformation as actors utilise the ‘productive contradictions’ of the state and of global institutions in a world dominated by neoliberalism (Wood and Litherland, 2017, cited in Eschle and Maiguashca, 2018; Connell, 2014).

This article is especially concerned with exploring how the researcher is situated in relation to those they research. We are interested in clarifying and reflecting upon the role of feminist academics and researchers. We seek to identify the different positions of researchers vis-a-vis their subjects and to explore the dilemmas and challenges that arise for academics in their efforts to study with sensitivity insider efforts to change the gender status quo from within various national, regional and international institutional arenas.

The article progresses in four sections. The first section defines who feminist critical friends are. It draws on ideas from radical pedagogy, situates the concept of FCF in the broader literature on feminist institutional actors and sets out an initial typology. The second section defines what the role of feminist critical friends is in relation to their subjects. The third section outlines the reasons why we have been motivated to develop the concept and why we consider it useful, especially for those interested in better understanding the operation of gender actors and gender rules. The fourth section considers the methods needed – or how – to engage in FCF. We end by offering some reflections on the potential value of the concept of critical friendship for feminist research.

Who are feminist critical friends?

The origins of critical friendship are in radical pedagogy but the concept has been widely popularised in support of public service and professional reform agendas, particularly but not exclusively in higher and further education.1 At its simplest, a critical friend has been defined as ‘a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critique of a person’s work as a friend’ (Costa and Kallick, 1993). A critical friend is typically an external person who supports change processes and programmes of reform. There are multiple definitions but we can draw out some common features (see, for example, Ehlers and Schneckenberg, 2010), which include:

  • being an external and autonomous person;

  • having relevant and recognised expertise and knowledge;

  • having shared goals;

  • balancing support with critical analysis;

  • having a willingness to play devil’s advocate and challenge assumptions;

  • having a willingness to speak hard truths constructively and make contextual judgements; and

  • having an ethos of balancing the contradictions of an engaged but critical position.

We suggest that feminist critical friends share a number of common features with critical friends: relative autonomy; expertise; ‘close distance’; (at least some) shared goals; and a commitment to understanding contingency and contextual entanglement. In our view, ‘feminist critical friends’ are researchers who may be aligned with the key tenets of the agenda being pursued by feminist actors working from within – such as ‘femocrats’, feminist judges or politicians – but they stand outside (or are in some sense detached from) the institutions under review. We agree with Holvikivi (2019: 143) that FCF should be a ‘dialogic relationship’. Consequently, feminist researchers have a responsibility ‘to create spaces for gender experts to be critical friends’ in return (Holvikivi, 2019: 132). However, in an attempt to clarify the distinction between critical friends and their subjects in this article, we avoid collapsing the two categories, while acknowledging that the ‘critique’ and the ‘friendship’ can operate across the divide, and that no one side of the relationship has an epistemic monopoly.2

In developing a typology of who might constitute a feminist critical friend, we offer the following categories and also provide some exemplars. These references are by no means meant to be exhaustive; rather, they simply give an indication of the type of work being undertaken under each category.

Feminist critical friend as engaged academic actor

These are feminist academic researchers involved, sometimes ‘over the long haul’, in the study of gender reforms in institutions, as well as the ideas, strategies and practices of feminist insiders. They will have recognised ‘expertise’ as academics. They will share a normative commitment to challenging the gender status quo, though they may be more sceptical of claims about the transformational potential of certain strategies, such as gender mainstreaming, gender quotas or gender bias training. They may support feminist insiders through the provision, sharing and exchange of resources (knowledge, analysis, wider contextual factors). They will seek to maintain ‘close distance’ with the institutions under study and the change agents within. From that standpoint, they evaluate progress and chart setbacks. Being relatively autonomous (especially when tenured), their academic credentials and university affiliations may command legitimacy with the wider institution, though doctoral researchers and those academics who are precariously employed are unlikely to enjoy such benefits.

There are many exemplars of this form of critical friendship scholarship. At the nation-state level, examples include Lee Ann Banaszak’s (2010) exploration of the development and policy impact over the long haul of feminist activist networks inside the US federal government, as well as the 15-year programme of longitudinal national and cross-national work on women’s policy machinery led by Amy Mazur and Dorothy McBride (see, for example, McBride and Mazur, 2013). At the regional level, an illustrative example is provided by Megan Bastick and Claire Duncanson’s (2018) careful account of the successes and challenges facing gender advisors in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) militaries. Thinking about the global level, Louise Chappell’s (2016) analysis of insiders working with the gender mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during its first decade in operation also fits this category, as does Susanne Zwingel’s (2016) long-term engagement with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the work of its committee.

Feminist critical friend as gender expert/advocate

These are individual experts or organisations that work in close cooperation with a particular institution or sector on reform agendas. They may have played a pivotal role in the creation of an institution or a gender mandate or policy. They may have considerable gender and sectoral expertise (sometimes more so than institutional insiders). They may support feminist insiders through the provision, sharing and exchange of resources (knowledge, analysis, wider contextual factors). They are likely to be relatively autonomous, though that may become complicated by turns ‘inside’ as consultants. They may also hold institutions to account and provide important two-way links with the wider women’s movement.

A good example of this type of critical friend is the organisation Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, based in The Hague. Engaged with the development of the ICC since its inception, the organisation provides ongoing gender analysis of the court’s decisions, internal policies and practices through annual reports and engagement with ICC insiders. A similar example is provided by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG), which is a coalition of organisations that provides regular expert policy guidance, as well as holding the United Nations (UN) Security Council to account for its performance on this agenda. Groups such as the European Women’s Lobby play a similar function in supporting and critiquing the work of regional bodies like the European Union. At a domestic level, examples of similar FCF organisations include Fawcett (UK), the Swedish Women’s Lobby (Sweden), National Organization of Women (US) and the Women’s National Coalition (South Africa).

At an individual level, we would include independent consultant gender experts and trainers, who often combine consultancy with scholarly analysis, for example, consultant-scholar Lucy Ferguson’s work on gender knowledge (see Bustelo et al., 2017). This category also encompasses academic feminists who become embedded in institutional arenas for a period of time to actively and explicitly promote reform agendas. Two good cases in point are Sarah Childs’s secondment to the UK House of Commons and her subsequent report on The good parliament (Childs, 2016), and Tania Verge et al’s (2019) work with the Catalan Parliament co-creating a multi-year gender action plan.

Feminist critical friend as ‘recovering femocrat’

These are individuals who have spent substantial periods of their careers inside institutions of governance but who subsequently move into – or return to – academic, quasi-academic roles or consultancy roles, and, in so doing, critically reflect on their own experience. They will have complicated relationships with their former colleagues ‘left behind’ and ethical dilemmas about boundaries and institutional knowledge, needing to critically assess when to share or publish information learnt or experienced on ‘the inside’, despite such knowledge bringing greater nuance and sensitivity to understanding the circumstances and constraints in which attempts at feminist policy development are made.

Marian Sawer’s (1990) groundbreaking Sisters in suits, which was the first in-depth study of feminists inside the bureaucracy, of which Sawer was herself a practitioner, is a good example of this type of critical friend. Sawer’s work was followed by US scholar Hester Eisenstein, who worked within the New South Wales public service and reflected on this in her work on Inside agitators (Eisenstein, 1996). Not a ‘femocrat’ experience per se, but Natalie Galea’s (2018) ethnography of the construction industry, where she formerly worked as a project manager, clearly brings out these ethical dilemmas and contradictions of insider knowledge, and an understanding of the challenges for insiders working to achieve gender transformation. Other notable examples include reflection and trenchant critique by former UN insiders such as Joanne Sandler (2013) and Anne Marie Goetz (Goetz and Jenkins, 2016; Goetz, 2020).

Whose critical friend?

Feminist engagement with institutions of governance – from local, to state, to international – requires a consideration of two further questions: first, ‘To whom are the researchers critical friends?’; and, second, ‘What does such friendship entail?’ In thinking through the first question, we note that the literature has moved on from debates among researchers about whether feminists should work within institutional arenas – generally accepting that ‘improvements in women’s lives rest, for the most part, on engagement with and entrance into institutions’ (Chappell, 2006: 158) – to turn to the attendant challenges, conflicts and power relationships that come with holding such a position. Initially, much of the theoretical and empirical work on feminist insiders focused on the national and local contexts, concerned with their involvement in state bureaucracies, legislatures and legal bodies (Sawer, 1990; Stetson and Mazur, 1995; Eisenstein, 1996; Katzenstein, 1998; Chappell, 2002; Mackay et al, 2003; Banaszak, 2010; McBride and Mazur, 2010). More recently, the field of view has expanded to focus on the engagement of actors within international organisations of global governance, including in UN agencies, the ICC, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and a range of development bodies (see Caglar et al, 2013; Eyben and Turquet, 2013; Mackay, 2013, 2014b; Chappell, 2016).

As noted by scholars (Barnett and Finnemore, 1999; Ni Aolain and Valji, 2019), there is a tendency in the study of institutions to focus on ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’, treating them as ‘black boxes’ and thus neglecting the internal dynamics and institutional cultures that enable or challenge modes of activity, including change processes. By opening up the ‘black box’ and attempting to analyse the challenges, power relationships and potential for agency of those working within sites of governance, feminist researchers have devised a range of descriptors. Drawing on the work of race and gender theorist Patricia Hill Collins (1986), feminist scholars including Hawkesworth (2006) and Roth (2006) apply the term ‘outsiders within’. As Roth (2006: 158) argues, the term ‘outsiders within’:

[c]aptures the positionality of those feminists in extra-feminist institutions who organize on the basis of their rights as women and as citizens; within various institutions, they make claims based on being members of the particular institutions/organizations they inhabit. But they do so from a position of societal difference … the experiences of outsiders within are shot through with contradictions; they may experience partial, sometimes only nominal, acceptance by institutions all the while conscious of the provisionality of this acceptance.

Other terms have been used to describe these insider gender justice advocates, depending on institutional contexts. Studies of feminist bureaucratic insiders have applied the terms ‘femocrats’ (Sawer, 1990; Stetson and Mazur, 1995; Eisenstein, 1996), ‘gender policy entrepreneurs’ (Chappell, 2006) or ‘tempered radicals’ (Eyben, 2013; Meyerson, 2001). Regardless of the characterisation, research has shown that these actors sit in a complex and often uncomfortable position – entering organisations with ‘oppositional knowledge’ and usually only ever enjoying partial acceptance by those powerful actors who maintain the gender status quo (Roth, 2006: 158). It is with these actors that FCFs are principally focused, formed and sustained.

Following the questions raised by Bastick and Duncanson (2015) in relation to their own work on militaries, feminist critical friends also need to consider whether their friendship extends beyond these ‘outsiders within’ to other institutional actors, or indeed to the sites of governance themselves. Is the feminist critical friend normatively supportive of the maintenance of the UN system, of NATO militaries or the ICC, despite their flaws? Or, are they just sympathetic to the struggle of those insiders/ outsiders within trying to shift the gender status quo, for example, through the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and strategies such as gender mainstreaming, gender quotas and gender-sensitive policy and impact analysis? This suggests that feminist critical friends may have a more ambivalent stance than standard critical friends when it comes to the wider institutional field, and may have only some shared goals rather than a wholehearted sense of a common agenda.

In relation to the second question of what the friendship entails, there are common themes running through the national and international accounts. These include the need to identify and take seriously the (sometimes hidden) ‘micro-political strategies’ (Eyben and Turquet, 2013: 301) required to ‘anchor feminist ideas’ (Caglar et al, 2013: 284) in organisations, as well as the challenges of and opportunities arising from operating at the margins (Eisenstein, 1996: 139; Roth, 2006; Eyben and Turquet, 2013: 411). Another preoccupation of these analyses is identifying and evaluating the intended and unintended consequences of institutional feminist interventions (Caglar et al, 2013: 286; Eyben and Turquet, 2013: 314). The literature also pays attention to the dilemmas for feminist insiders who are often working to procure the ‘least worst’ outcomes, rather than vacate the field entirely (Eyben and Turquet, 2013; in national contexts, see also Eisenstein, 1996; Katzenstein, 1998).

Regardless, a general finding of the existing scholarship on feminist insiders is that transformative gender change rarely arrives through major ruptures or at ‘critical junctures’; more likely, it will be achieved in incremental steps, arising from the daily practice through which institutions are instantiated (Ferguson, 2015; Dersnah, 2016; 2019) – a case of chipping away rather than sweeping away. Therefore, it is necessary for feminist critical friends to pay particular attention to everyday practices within complex bureaucracies and understand that ‘politically astute feminist bureaucrats seek to exploit these contradictions rather than resolve them, making small gains as they work towards transformational goals’ (Eyben and Turquet, 2013: 7). When added together over time, ‘small wins’ can add up to a significant institutional shift. Mary Katzenstein’s (1998: 7; see also Feree, 2003) important work on feminists within the Catholic Church and US military neatly sums up this process: ‘[l]ess lawbreaking than norm-breaking’, women’s activists working from within ‘challenged, discomforted and provoked, unleashing a wholesale disturbance of long-settled assumptions, rules and practices’.

Our intervention on FCF adds a new layer to this existing scholarship. It seeks to explore and expose the contradictions and entanglements not of the insiders themselves, but of the academics and other researchers who seek to understand the position, influence and effects of these ‘tempered radicals’, as well as their role in wider processes of resistance and change. This approach shares common insights with older work on ‘triangles’ – work that described and traced the informal relations among policymakers, academics and civil society in gender equality policymaking (for a recent revisiting, see Woodward, 2015). However, FCF differs in its concern with research dilemmas. This intervention is founded on our sensitivities to: our responsibilities as researchers to these insiders; the benefits and the limits of our investigations; the tools available and best suited for undertaking this research; and the need to understand the boundaries between where academic outsiders and insiders reside.

In considering these issues, we situate ourselves within a feminist methodological position that views the research process itself as a political act. As Brooke Ackerly and Jacqui True (2013: 136) explain, a feminist methodology is not a distinct set of rules or predefined protocols for research, but a dynamic, power-infused process. We identify with the four aspects that Ackerly and True consider central to a feminist approach to research, including an attentiveness to: unequal power relations; relationships; boundaries of inclusion and exclusions and forms of marginalisation; and situating the researcher in the research process (Ackerly and True, 2013: 136; see also Fonow and Cook, 1991; 2005). This self-reflection on the position of the researcher is a feature of both feminist methodology and a feminist research ethic (Ackerly and True, 2013: 144), and is our primary focus here.

Why define an FCF position?

Our desire to develop and clarify the use of the term ‘critical friendship’ for feminist political analysis stems from two motivations: joint frustration with some of the academic critiques that have emerged in recent years concerning feminist insider efforts to engender arenas of national and international governance through strategies such as gender mainstreaming;3 and the need to develop a methodological standpoint in relation to an emergent feminist institutionalism in which we are both invested.

In relation to the first motivation, we have become increasingly concerned by feminist critiques of feminist insider strategies that are unmediated by attentiveness to institutional context or strategic possibilities. A key example of this work is the critique of what has been pejoratively described as ‘governance feminism’ (GF), driven by US legal theorist Janet Halley and colleagues (2018). This work focuses on how those feminists entering sites of governance end up in relations of ‘collaboration, compromise, collusion, complicity, and co-option’ (Natile and Tapia, 2018: 1110). As critiqued in a review of this book, the governance feminist approach ‘can result in the oversimplification of feminist struggles, focusing on visible and measurable outcomes and underestimating every day, imperceptible feminist contributions to social change’.

While many feminist critics identify the dilemmas of institutional ‘resistance’ and ‘compliance’, as well as the compromises entailed in choosing to operate at the ‘margins’ or in the ‘mainstream’ (see Kouvo and Pearson, 2011), they nevertheless offer few clues as to what an empowered or resistant feminism might look like, and fail to offer any solutions to these dilemmas aside from entirely rejecting existing institutional arrangements (see, for example, Nesiah, 2011). Dustin Sharp’s (2019: 4) point in relation to human rights critics seems equally apt here: ‘for some critical scholars, deconstruction has become an end in and of itself, and an exercise in fence-sitting where no discernible position is ever firmly taken’. He goes on: ‘the critique has become largely self-referential, buttressed only with references to critical assertions of other like-minded critical theorists’ (Sharp, 2019: 4). Similarly, a commentary by Kip Hale (2020) on problems with ‘friendly fire’ aimed at the ICC noted the material challenges that this presented:

Inaccurate commentary on the Court, especially from those who ought to know better, creates unhelpful narratives about this critical institution, causes unnecessary distractions for the Court, and can often result in inefficient use of the ICC’s time in having to correct the public record. The latter is all the more consequential when considering that the ICC is arguably the most visible and watched court in the world and its limited staff are already under-resourced to manage such widespread interest.

A further problem is that there is blindness towards the micro-political context in which feminist insiders such as policy entrepreneurs operate, and therefore a lack of attention to the subtle wins and losses that arise from their engagement. Again, to draw upon and paraphrase Sharp’s parallel analysis of human rights critics, we see that feminist critics will often ‘stand on a moral high ground of denunciation’ without ever engaging in harder questions of governance, including the ‘nitty gritty of implementation’. Those who ‘deconstruct without offering a discernible vision for change’ (Sharp, 2019: 6) often seem oblivious to, or disinterested in, the effect this has on those ‘outsiders within’ working to shift the gender status quo. Certainly, feminist insiders have conveyed to us that they experience some deconstructive critique as destructive and disempowering, presenting them as institutional ‘dupes’ or seduced by power.4

The problem with these ‘strong co-optation’ approaches has been carefully laid out in the work of Eschle and Maigusashca (2018). As they argue: ‘the trouble with the strong co-optation thesis is not only its exclusionary and determinist reading of institutional sites of politics, but also its universalisation of particular Northern feminist visions of political possibility’ (Eschle and Maigusashca, 2018: 226). Specifically in relation to critiques of GF, Natile and Tapia (2018: 1110–1) suggest:

it is important to say that for feminists who are both scholars and activists, a key question emerging from this work is how the critique of GF is going to be used in countries where feminist ideas have not been normalized, and where struggles to attain even basic rights for women are occurring. Decriminalizing abortion in Latin America, for instance, could make the difference between women’s lives and their deaths, and is an agenda that only feminists with the tools to influence power can take forward.

Eschle and Maigusashca (2018: 225) also caution against relying on the nostalgic lens often applied in critiques, which suggest that there was a time where ‘purity’ in engagement was possible. Not only does this ‘purist’ point of view work against more realistic yet messier intersectional and decolonial approaches to institutional engagement, but it is also apparently uninformed by earlier and ongoing domestic debates around ‘femocrats’, state feminism and NGO-isation that have been so important in better understanding the tensions and possibilities of feminist insider/outsider engagement.

In advancing FCF, we are staking a claim for a mid-position: one that accounts for the limitations, shortfalls, missteps and intended and unintended consequences of insider actions and strategies, at the same time as being sympathetic to the need to engage with existing institutional arenas ‘however hedged in with caveats and compromises’ (Eschle and Maiguashca, 2018: 227). Our position, which combines what Eschle and Maiguashca have dubbed more ‘nuanced co-optation’ and ‘resistance’ approaches, emphasises the importance of understanding the contingencies within which feminist insiders (or outsiders within) operate, the value and costs of existing at the margins, the significance of small shifts in context that can accumulate over time, and the necessity of compromises to achieve ‘the least worst outcomes’.

A second motivation for giving definition to the idea of a feminist critical friend comes from our participation in the cross-national and collaborative project of developing and defining a feminist institutionalism (FI), which requires us to think more clearly about the development of a grounded methodological approach that is compatible with these efforts. Indeed, FI has been identified as providing promising frameworks and tools by feminist political science and international relations (IR) scholars concerned with the shape and scope of ‘resistance’ feminism, and the possibilities for contestation in highly institutionalised terrains (Eschle and Maiguashca, 2018: 233). Identified as of particular value are FI understandings of institutions as both gendered and involved in gendering (with gendered effects), and the emphasis on both formal and informal ‘rules of the game’ (see Lowndes, 2019). As Ni Aolain and Valji (2019: 61) note, FI provides ‘a cogent means of determining the role gender plays in shaping institutional dynamics’.

Recognising the importance of actors, and their everyday practices in gendered institutions, alerts us as researchers to the need to pay careful attention to how gender and other cross-cutting identities attach to the people who work with the rules and the types of constraints that these impose upon them. It calls for academics to develop a deeper understanding of how gender is performed institutionally in order to reflect the ‘gendered logic of appropriateness’ (Chappell, 2006), and how, in turn, this gender performance shapes the context in which institutional rules are designed and implemented. Capturing the relationship between gender, actors and institutions requires us as researchers not to accept what we see from the outside at face value, but to undertake deep excavations within institutional settings to better reveal the layers of silence and points of resistance and opportunity that confront ‘outsiders within’ that may not be so obvious at first glance. It is clear from ours and other authors’ dialogue with outsiders within, as well their own accounts (see, for example, Eyben and Turquet, 2013; Ferguson, 2015), that these actors often experience and practise their work in ways that both support and challenge their institutions, and that identify and creatively exploit institutional ambiguities.

How to ‘do’ research as a feminist critical friend?

In taking up a position of FCF – one that is sensitive to the institutional constraints under which feminist insiders operate – it is important to think carefully about the best methodological tools to use. We do not argue that FCF must follow a particular methodological approach. However, if the objective is to better understand the micro-politics and small wins and losses that are a feature of institutional work, we suggest that it is necessary to get as close as possible through interviews and ethnographic methods, in addition to studying core texts. While interviews have been a standard and important qualitative tool in feminist political science (both structured and semi-structured), ethnographic approaches that include observation and shadowing are much less common (but see, for example, Bjarnegård, 2013; Chappell and Galea, 2017). Ethnographic approaches have the benefit of capturing ‘the social meanings and ordinary activities of people in their natural settings’ (see Chappell and Galea, 2017). At the same time, researchers must be alert to the limitations of ethnographic approaches, not least the potential to give ‘too much primacy to actors, their practices and beliefs, to the exclusion of the institutional context in which they operate’, as Louise Chappell and Georgina Waylen (2013: 609) point out. Balancing close-up, interpretive approaches with textual analysis and quantitative techniques where relevant (see Weldon, 2014) is important to understanding the place inside institutional arenas of ‘outsiders within’.

Comparative analysis – both temporal and geographical – can also be enlightening for understanding the position of actors such as gender justice advocates. Challenges, compromises, processes and outcomes can play out differently in different settings. By paying attention to differences across time and place, we are able to ensure that we avoid making blanket assessments of the work of insiders, and learn and share lessons about the combination of factors – including those operating at the micro-level – that create the conditions for achieving the small wins (or experiencing the losses) that can make a difference to shifting the gender status quo (see Chappell and Waylen, 2013). Scholars from the ‘Global North’ still have much to learn and understand about how insiders operate outside the well-researched governance structures in advanced democracies (Tripp, 2015; Ahikire and Mwiine, 2020), and by examining cases from the ‘Global South’, we will learn more about the opportunities and constraints, the necessities and compromises, that confront ‘tempered radicals’ in their daily work.

Critical friends or de(con)structive critics?

It is our view that some of the problems we have identified with some ‘strong co-optation’ feminist critiques of ‘tempered radicals’ stem, in part, from methodological foundations. The GF critique noted earlier provides a good case in point here, and it is worth unpacking it a little to understand our differences in approach. In an early articulation of GF, Janet Halley (2008) undertook an analysis of feminist legal insiders’ efforts to shape the negotiations over the ICC’s blueprint – the Rome Statute. Analysing these negotiations in the late 1990s, Halley (2008: 6) strongly criticised those feminists engaged in the statute design process, working ‘inside’ as diplomats and civil society actors, as well as academics, as missing a critical edge, replacing it with a governance style of feminism that was ‘consolidated in its [radical] feminist ideology and in its goals’. An especially relevant aspect of Halley’s (2008: 7) account for this discussion is that, in her view, feminist engagement occurred without any obvious internal dissent within or between the community of feminist advocates or their academic colleagues. Commenting on this issue, Halley (2008: 43, emphasis in original) notes: ‘Whether dissent existed or not is another question; dissent was not performed. For anyone accustomed to the strong tendency of feminists to disagree amongst themselves, this express and implied G[overnance] Feminist and feminist consensus is quite breathtaking.’ A foundational problem with Halley’s critique relates to her method.5 Halley makes clear that her detailed analysis of these events were solely based on a textual analysis – documents from the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, who participated in negotiations, as well as published assessments of the process and the outcomes by those involved in the process and Women’s Caucus actors. As Halley (2008: 23, emphasis added) explains:

I decided early on in the research summarized in this Article that I would not interview participants in the processes I describe here: the result, I thought, would simply have multiplied rather than reduced the interpretive challenges of dealing with the written archive. So I have made myself entirely dependent on genres of legal writing, ranging from the judicial opinion to the op-ed, for the material on which I base the conclusions of this Article.

Seeking to avoid interpretive challenges is a curious stance for someone who wants to capture the conflicts and consensus-building of insiders in the design process. This is especially the case for historically marginalised actors operating in a rule-bound, state-centric international relations system that, as work on feminist insiders has shown (Eisenstein, 1996; Eyben and Turquet, 2013), may make them cautious about outwardly demonstrating division and debate. Even if we accept that there was indeed a consensus among feminists at Rome, without extensive post hoc interviews, or the employment of ethnographic research strategies during the negotiation process, we can never know how strong it was or how it was achieved and performed. To flip Halley’s argument around, could it not be that the consensus may have appeared ‘real’ but was nothing more than ‘performance’? Indeed, according to one of the feminist actors involved, Valerie Oosterveld, to the extent that consensus was achieved, both within the members of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice and with states parties, it came only after exhausting and daily debate and dissent, especially, though not only, in relation to the definition of gender (Oosterveld, in McLeod et al, 2014). GF critiques are just one set among many of the work of feminist insiders. Critical friends take their critical role seriously, but by engaging in close-up, back-and-forward, timely and historical research, they are also able to better see the shifts, challenges and ‘small wins’ that may contribute to shifting the gender status quo.

Challenges researching outsiders within

How do researchers capture the quotidian workings of powerful international organisations, and the strategic dilemmas and micro-politics of gender specialists as outsiders within? Anthropologist Rosalind Eyben uses innovative collaborative action research techniques whereby feminist bureaucrats reflect critically on their own practice as actors inside international development organisations (see Eyben and Turquet, 2013). First-person insider testimonies (some of which are surprisingly frank) are combined with Eyben’s (2013) creative re-imaginings of collective conversations over a period of several years to capture the reflections of those who needed to remain anonymous. The study sheds light on the dilemmas, internal dissent and strategic compromises of ‘femocrats’ in their daily practice, and also emphasises that the dialogic relationship called for as a component of feminist critical friendship (Holvikivi, 2019) is already part of many researchers’ practice.

Over the past few years, we have each embarked upon projects researching new international institutions in the fields of global governance and international law (see Chappell, 2016; Mackay, 2014a). This work has entailed intensive engagement with feminist actors and institutional gender reform agendas. In each case, our work has been aimed at understanding the promise and limits of ‘new gender rules’ and reform processes, the impact of legacies, and the role of actors in instantiating (or challenging) new institutional paths. These follow on from work we have each done at local and national institutional arenas in established democracies, charting feminist change over the long haul and the relationships and roles of institutional and extra-institutional actors, and the blurred lines between them (see Chappell, 2002; Mackay et al, 2003). In addition to the analysis of documents and texts, we have employed techniques such as repeat interviewing, participant and non-participant observation, process tracing, storytelling, and resonance seminars to excavate and address the everyday dynamics of continuity and change. Like Eyben, we have strived to do research with, rather than on, feminist insiders (Eyben and Turquet, 2013; see also Pillow, 2003).

In applying these techniques across these different research projects, we have encountered a range of methodological and ethical dilemmas that are likely to confront all researchers who take up a position of FCF. One problem relates to access. Finding a way into organisations to identify and gain access to the most appropriate interviewees can be difficult, especially where there are powerful gatekeepers. Gatekeepers may not be feminist or sympathetic to the research questions of feminist researchers. The cost of the ‘research bargain’ may be high, with privileged access granted at the expense of relative autonomy. In the case of one of our projects, that has meant considerable delays in securing agreement to publish. Gaining the trust of insiders – including feminist insiders – so that they are willing to be interviewed is another challenge, especially for those who have engaged with researchers in the past and feel that their positions have been misrepresented or misunderstood. However, we have found the concept of ‘critical friend’ helpful in explaining our stance to both feminist and non-feminist institutional actors; it resonates well across that divide. Furthermore, concerns about confidentiality and institutional loyalty can raise the stakes for those who are the subjects of inquiry. Time is another potential impediment. Interviews, but especially ethnographic methods, require an extensive time commitment that can be a disincentive for both research participants and academic researchers. Institutional churn can also be a problem. Having spent time developing a close relationship with particular actors, they may move on and no longer hold positions relevant to the study. However, it is also the case that some of the most valuable material can come from the reflections of former insiders, who are no longer constrained by their professional loyalties.

It is also important to emphasise that the constraints in this research process are not unidirectional. Researchers also face dilemmas; having gained access to and built up trust with feminist insiders, they are likely to develop a sense of loyalty to them and may feel guarded about the presentation of difficult findings, even though they might have been openly disclosed and approved for dissemination by the participants. This is especially the case where certain developments may undermine feminist insider efforts, or create friction within organisations. In contexts where regular internal reporting and resonance activities are a part of the research process, researchers may struggle to find constructive ways to speak hard truths to power and to peers. In such situations, we have found storytelling to be a creative way to present critical findings. Additionally, just as feminist insiders can face co-option, so too can feminist researchers find that the selective use of their work may be employed to serve wider institutional agendas. Conversely, the problem of unintended harm may also arise because of researchers revealing certain dilemmas or strategies but not being adequately aware of local political sensitivities. Indeed, on several occasions, we have had to ask ourselves whether our findings might do harm.

Research imbued with the ethos of FCF involves emotional work on both sides. As a researcher, this includes active listening, providing space for feminist insiders to explore their experience and analysis, and also providing a sounding board for pain, anger and disappointment. At times, we have each felt weighed down by the emotional impact of the stories shared. Interviews, informal conversations and ongoing relationships provide the opportunities for dialogue (Holvikivi, 2019) and ‘spaces for self-critique and reflexivity’ (Ferguson, 2015). However, insiders may grapple with the impact of the pain and confidences shared, as well as disappointment from unrealistic expectations of what research(ers) can effect in terms of material change. We suggest that an FCF approach means that researchers accept these emotional costs and dilemmas. In their work on feminist methods, Ackerly and True (2013: 153) offer a helpful guiding refrain: carry out research ‘with a measure of humility, demonstrating awareness of the many challenges, methodological among them, in studying the social and political world, which is always changing and of which we are a part’.

Conclusions: why is FCF a promising concept?

In this article, we have argued that the concept of FCF has promise for capturing the aspirations and dilemmas of many feminist academics and researchers whose work means that they are ‘entangled’ with the institutions and organisations of governance, and the feminist bureaucrats, legislators and jurists who work on the inside as ‘outsiders within’, seeking to unsettle the gender status quo and re-gender powerful social, economic, military and political institutions. We have sketched out what the concept of FCF might mean in the context of governance, particularly at the global level. Rather than positing engaged feminism and critical feminism as in opposition, we argued that feminist critical friends can be engaged and critical. Indeed, as the literature on education reform has highlighted, the concept of critical friendship is seen to embody an ethos of balancing contradictions. This mid-position suggests that critique on its own is unhelpful, especially for those working to shift power relations from within institutions. Rather, criticism should be coupled with ‘a discernible vision for change’ (Sharp, 2019: 6) to open up dialogue and help guide practice.

We think that there are a number of reasons why the concept of FCF is a promising framework to develop for understanding the dilemmas of feminist researchers engaging with gender reforms and gender expertise in global and local institutions. First, it is reflexive, in that it places academic feminist researchers (back) in the frame as producers of situated knowledge and recognises the generative impact of academic feminism. Second, it brings actors back in, in that it pays attention to institutional and extra-institutional actors in programmes of change. It offers a corrective to ‘strong co-optation’ approaches that are overly deterministic and treated as an end in themselves. Third, it posits a relationship between peers, in that it takes the middle ground in the debates about the virtues of ‘researching up’ versus ‘researching down’. The concept denotes a horizontal relationship of peers. FCF is a relational concept and implies relations (of trust, some shared goals and understanding) between researchers and institutional actors. In its most common usage, it is associated with the building of communities of practice and promoting collaborative learning in further and higher education. Along with Holvikivi, we argue that this aspect could be usefully developed as part of feminist strategies to develop communities of feminist practice and collaborative learning across scales and sectors.

Fourth, it is change oriented. FCF is aimed at supporting organisational actors to effect change, at the same time as recognising that change, including transformations, can sometimes come in small, incremental steps. This is in contrast to much work in feminist IR addressing feminist co-optation versus empowerment or resistance, which offers few clues as to strategies for advancement and reform. Fifth, it is a position committed to contingency, complexity and contradictions. For example, it recognises the dilemmas but also the productive tensions of engagement – such as the capacity to be critical and engaged, as well as to operate at close distance – and that actors will simultaneously experience elements of institutional co-option and agency, as well as the boundedness of the reform agenda. Sixth, it is careful and contextual, in that it recognises the political, professional and emotional work of feminist insiders and their bounded agency, and that it uses the legitimacy of situated academics to speak hard truths with care and responsibility.

There is an appetite for and a growing literature on scholars trying to find the middle ground between dichotomies such as co-optation and resistance. FCF provides one path for exploring institutions and the interaction between them across the global, national and local contexts. Such an approach is more important than ever given the reassertion of ‘muscular authoritarianism’, the decline of liberal democracy and attacks on the global rule-based order. As such, feminists may need to widen their critical lens to include not only the shortcomings of (neo-)liberalism, including the liberal peacebuilding paradigm and the liberal political model, but also the dangers thrown up by the trends of ‘illiberal drift’ and rising human rights abuses (Goetz and Jenkins, 2019: 2). Recognising feminist insiders’ macro- and micro-interventions across all levels of governance, while excavating and acknowledging the limitations, contestations and contradictions of their efforts, is a considered position that seems highly relevant to the turbulent times in which we live.

Notes

2

We thank Anonymous Reviewer 3 for this point.

3

For critiques of efforts to engender the international law and transitional justice domains, see Engle (2005), Halley (2008), Kapur (2013) and Nesiah (2011).

4

In conversation with authors.

5

Despite its methodological flaws, which, at best, miss the nuances of the position of the actors involved or, at worst, misrepresent them, Halley’s analysis has been lauded as an example of ‘meticulous feminist analysis’ and re-presented as the accepted ‘truth’ of Rome Statute negotiations (Kapur, 2013: 20).

Funding

Louise Chappell’s research is supported by the UNSW SHARP scheme, and the Australian Human Rights Institute, UNSW. Fiona Mackay was supported by a University of Edinburgh RDF grant to present this work at the 4th ECPG at Uppsala (June 2015), and by the ERC – Understanding Institutional Change Programme (PI: Georgina Waylen, Manchester) to present at the ‘Gender, Institutions and Change – Feminist Institutionalism after Ten Years’ conference (April 2017).

Acknowledgements

This article has been ‘cooking’ for a long time and has its genesis in a panel we organised at the 4th ECPG in Uppsala in 2015. We would like to thank our fellow panellists and discussants, especially Claire Duncanson, Megan Bastick, Suzanne Zwingel, Conny Roggeband and Kathy Tegthsoonian. Thanks also to all those researchers and feminist insiders who have provided feedback and advice in panels and conversations in the intervening period. We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism, which helped us to clarify our thinking. Finally, thanks to Cait Hamilton and Josh Gibson for editorial assistance.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  • Ackerly, B. and True, J. (2013) Methods and methodologies, in G. Waylen, K. Celis, J. Kantola and S. Laurel Weldon (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 13559.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ahikire, J. and Mwiine, A.A. (2020) Gender Equitable Change and the Place of Informal Networks in Uganda’s Legislative Policy Reforms, ESID Working Paper No. 134, Manchester: University of Manchester.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banaszak, L.A. (2010) The Women’s Movement Inside and Outside the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Barnett, M.N. and Finnemore, M. (1999) The politics, power and pathologies of international organization, International Organization, 53(4): 699732. doi: 10.1162/002081899551048

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bastick, M. and Duncanson, C. (2015) Engaging with Militaries: Strategies, Sanctions and Implications, paper presented at the European Conference on Politics and Gender, Uppsala.

  • Bastick, M. and Duncanson, C. (2018) Agents of change? Gender advisors in NATO militaries, International Peacekeeping, 25(4): 54477.

  • Bjarnegård, E. (2013) Gender, Informal Institutions and Political Recruitment: Explaining Male Dominance in Parliamentary Representation, Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bustelo, M., Ferguson, L. and Forest, M. (2017) The Politics of Feminist Knowledge Transfer, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Caglar, G., Prugl, E. and Zwingel, S. (2013) Feminist Strategies in International Governance, London: Routledge.

  • Chappell, L. (2002) Gendering Government: Feminist Engagement with the State in Australia and Canada, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chappell, L. (2006) Comparing institutions: revealing the ‘gendered logic of appropriateness’, Politics & Gender, 2(2): 22335.

  • Chappell, L. (2016) The Politics of Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Chappell, L. and Galea, N. (2017) Excavating informal institutional enforcement through ‘rapid ethnography’: lessons from the Australians construction industry, in G. Waylen (ed) Gender and Informal Institutions, London: Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd, pp 6790.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chappell, L. and Mackay, F. (2015) Critical Friends and De(con)structive Critics: Dilemmas of Feminist Engagement with Global Governance and Gender Reform Agendas, paper presented at the 4th European Conference on Politics and Gender, Sweden: University of Uppsala, June.

  • Chappell, L. and Waylen, G. (2013) Gender and the hidden life of institutions, Public Administration, 91(3): 599615.

  • Childs, S. (2016) The Good Parliament, Bristol: University of Bristol.

  • Connell, R. (2014) Global tides: market and gender dynamics on a world scale, Social Currents, 1(1): 512. doi: 10.1177/2329496513513961

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Costa, A.L. and Kallick, B. (1993) Through the lens of a critical friend, Educational Leadership, 51(2): 4951.

  • Dersnah, M.A. (2016) Feminist Practice in an International Bureaucracy: Contestation Over the Field of Peace and Security at the United Nations, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Toronto.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dersnah, M.A. (2019) WPS inside the United Nations, in S.E. Davies and J. True (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security, Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press, pp 293301.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duncanson, C. (2013) Forces for Good: Military Masculinities and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq, Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ehlers, U. and Schneckenberg, D. (2010) (eds) Changing Cultures in Higher Education, Heidelberg: Springer.

  • Eisenstein, H. (1996) Inside Agitators: Australian Femocrats and the State, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

  • Engle, K. (2005) Feminism and its (dis)contents: criminalizing wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, American Journal of International Law, 99(4): 778816. doi: 10.2307/3396669

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eschle, C. and Maiguashca, B. (2018) Theorising feminist organising in and against neoliberalism: beyond cooptation and resistance?, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 1(1/2): 22339. doi: 10.1332/251510818X15272520831120

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eyben, R. (2013) Finding our organizational way, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Development Organizations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Books for Development, pp 11726.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eyben, R. and Turquet, L. (2013) Introduction: feminist bureaucrats: inside-outside perspectives, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Development Organizations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Books for Development, pp 114.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feree, M.M. (2003) Resonance and radicalism: feminist framing in the abortion debates of the United States and Germany, American Journal of Sociology, 109(2): 30444. doi: 10.1086/378343

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ferguson, L. (2015) This is our gender person, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17(3): 38097. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2014.918787

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fonow, M. and Cook, J.A. (1991) Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship as Lived Research, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

  • Fonow, M. and Cook, J.A. (2005) Feminist methodology: new applications in the academy and public policy, Signs, 30(4): 221136. doi: 10.1086/428417

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Galea, N. (2018) Built for Men: Masculine Privilege in the Australian Construction Sector, PhD thesis, UNSW.

  • Goetz, A.M. (2020) The new competition in multilateral normsetting: transnational feminists and the illiberal backlash, Daedalus, 149(1): 16079. doi: 10.1162/daed_a_01780

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. and Jenkins, R. (2016) Gender, security and governance: the case of Sustainable Development Goal 16, Gender and Development, 24(1): 12737. doi: 10.1080/13552074.2016.1144412

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. and Jenkins, R. (2019) The WPS Agenda 25 Years After Beijing, expert paper for 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, New York, NY: UN Women, Available at: www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/64/egm/goetzjenkinsexpert%20paperdraftegmb25ep4.pdf?la=en&vs=844

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hale, C. (2020) Time to look in the mirror: ICC community in need of perspective, Justice in Conflict, Available at: https://justiceinconflict.org/2020/05/27/time-to-look-in-the-mirror-a-response-to-icc-critics/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halley, J. (2008) Rape at Rome: feminist interventions in the criminalization of sex-related violence in positive international law, Michigan Journal of International Law, 30(1): 3123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halley, J., Kotiswaran, P., Rebouché, R. and Shamir, H. (2018) Governance Feminism: An introduction, Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hawkesworth, M.E. (2006) Globalization and Feminist Activism, New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Hill Collins, P. (1986) Learning from the outsider within: the sociological significance of black feminist thought, Social Problems, 33(6): S14S32.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holvikivi, A. (2019) Gender experts and critical friends: research in relations of proximity, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 2(1): 13147. doi: 10.1332/251510819X15471289106068

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kapur, R. (2013) Gender, sovereignty and the rise of a sexual security regime in international law and postcolonial India, Melbourne Journal of International Law, 14(2): 31745.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Katzenstein, M. (1998) Faithful and Fearless: Moving Feminist Protest Inside the Church and Military, New Brunswick, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kouvo, S. and Pearson, Z. (2011) Introduction, in S. Kouvo and Z. Pearson (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance?, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp 112.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krook, M.L. and Mackay, F. (2011) (eds) Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Lowndes, V. (2014) How are things done around here? Uncovering institutional rules and their gendered effects, Politics & Gender, 10(4): 68591.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lowndes, V. (2019) How are political institutions gendered?, Political Studies, 122, doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321719867667

  • Mackay, F. (2013) New Rules, Old Rules and the Gender Equality Architecture of the UN – the Creation of UN Women, paper presented at the American Political Science Association Conference, 30 August, Chicago.

  • Mackay, F. (2014a) ‘Nested newness’, institutional innovation, and the gendered limits of change, Politics & Gender, 10(4): 54971.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackay, F. (2014b) Global Governance and UN Women: Nested Newness and the Gendered Limits of Institutional Reform, paper presented at the International Studies Association Conference, 27 March, Toronto.

  • Mackay, F., Myers, F. and Brown, A. (2003) Towards a new politics? Women and the constitutional change in Scotland, in A. Dobrowolsky and V. Hart (eds) Women Making Constitutions: New Politics and Comparative Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp 8498.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackay, F., Kenny, M. and Chappell, L. (2010) New institutionalism through a gender lens: towards a feminist institutionalism?, International Political Science Review, 31(5): 57388. doi: 10.1177/0192512110388788

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McBride, D. and Mazur, A. (2010) The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McBride, D. and Mazur, A. (2013) Women’s policy agencies and state feminism, in G. Waylen, K. Celis, J. Kantola and S.L. Weldon (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McLeod, L., Johnson, R., Meintjes, S., Brown, A. and Oosterveld, V. (2014) Gendering processes of institutional design: activists at the negotiating table, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 16(2): 35469. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2014.918777

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meyerson, D. (2001) Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

  • Natile, S. and Tapia, S.T. (2018) Governance feminism: an introduction, Law & Society Review, 52(4): 110611.

  • Nesiah, V. (2011) Missionary zeal for a secular mission: bringing gender to transitional justice and redemption to feminism, in S. Kouvo and Z. Pearson (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance?, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp 13758.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ni Aolain, F. and Valji, N. (2019) Scholarly debates and contested meaning of WPS, in S.E. Davis and J. True (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 5366.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pillow, W. (2003) Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2): 17596. doi: 10.1080/0951839032000060635

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roth, B. (2006) Gender inequality and feminist activism in institutions: challenges of marginalization and feminist ‘fading’, in L. Chappell and L. Hill (eds) The Politics of Women’s Interests: New Comparative Perspectives, London: Routledge, pp 15774.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sandler, J. (2013) Regendering the United Nations: old challenges and new opportunities, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Feminists in Development Organisations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Practical Action Publishing, pp 14563.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sawer, M. (1990) Sisters in Suits: Women and Public Policy in Australia, Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

  • Sharp, D.N. (2019) Through a glass darkly: three conversations for human rights professionals, Journal of Human Rights Practice, 11(2): 19. doi: 10.1093/jhuman/huz017

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stetson, D. and Mazur, A. (1995) (eds) Comparative State Feminism, London: Sage.

  • Tripp, A.M. (2015) Women and Power in Post-conflict Africa, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Verge, T., Fuente, M. and Duran, M. (2019) Diagnosi del Pla d’Igualtat Del Parlament de Catalunya, Barcelona: Institut per a l’estudi i la transformació de la vida quotidiana, iQ, Available at: www.parlament.cat/document/actualitat/38460679

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Waylen, G. (2018) Understanding institutional change from a gender perspective, in William R. Thompson (ed) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weick, K.E. (1984) Small wins: redefining the scale of social problems, American Psychologist, 39(1): 409. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.39.1.40

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weldon, L. (2014) Using statistical methods to study institutions, Politics and Gender, 10(4): 66172. doi: 10.1017/S1743923X14000464

  • Wood, R. and Litherland, B. (2017) Critical feminist hope: the encounter of neoliberalism and popular feminism in WWE 24: women’s evolution, Feminist Media Studies, 18: 90522. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2017.1393762

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Woodward, A.E. (2015) Travels, triangles and transformations, Tijdschrift Voor Genderstudies, 18(1): 518. doi: 10.5117/TVGN2015.1.WOOD

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwingel, S. (2016) Translating International Women’s Rights: The CEDW Convention in Context, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Ackerly, B. and True, J. (2013) Methods and methodologies, in G. Waylen, K. Celis, J. Kantola and S. Laurel Weldon (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 13559.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ahikire, J. and Mwiine, A.A. (2020) Gender Equitable Change and the Place of Informal Networks in Uganda’s Legislative Policy Reforms, ESID Working Paper No. 134, Manchester: University of Manchester.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Banaszak, L.A. (2010) The Women’s Movement Inside and Outside the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Barnett, M.N. and Finnemore, M. (1999) The politics, power and pathologies of international organization, International Organization, 53(4): 699732. doi: 10.1162/002081899551048

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bastick, M. and Duncanson, C. (2015) Engaging with Militaries: Strategies, Sanctions and Implications, paper presented at the European Conference on Politics and Gender, Uppsala.

  • Bastick, M. and Duncanson, C. (2018) Agents of change? Gender advisors in NATO militaries, International Peacekeeping, 25(4): 54477.

  • Bjarnegård, E. (2013) Gender, Informal Institutions and Political Recruitment: Explaining Male Dominance in Parliamentary Representation, Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bustelo, M., Ferguson, L. and Forest, M. (2017) The Politics of Feminist Knowledge Transfer, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Caglar, G., Prugl, E. and Zwingel, S. (2013) Feminist Strategies in International Governance, London: Routledge.

  • Chappell, L. (2002) Gendering Government: Feminist Engagement with the State in Australia and Canada, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chappell, L. (2006) Comparing institutions: revealing the ‘gendered logic of appropriateness’, Politics & Gender, 2(2): 22335.

  • Chappell, L. (2016) The Politics of Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Chappell, L. and Galea, N. (2017) Excavating informal institutional enforcement through ‘rapid ethnography’: lessons from the Australians construction industry, in G. Waylen (ed) Gender and Informal Institutions, London: Rowman & Littlefield International Ltd, pp 6790.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chappell, L. and Mackay, F. (2015) Critical Friends and De(con)structive Critics: Dilemmas of Feminist Engagement with Global Governance and Gender Reform Agendas, paper presented at the 4th European Conference on Politics and Gender, Sweden: University of Uppsala, June.

  • Chappell, L. and Waylen, G. (2013) Gender and the hidden life of institutions, Public Administration, 91(3): 599615.

  • Childs, S. (2016) The Good Parliament, Bristol: University of Bristol.

  • Connell, R. (2014) Global tides: market and gender dynamics on a world scale, Social Currents, 1(1): 512. doi: 10.1177/2329496513513961

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Costa, A.L. and Kallick, B. (1993) Through the lens of a critical friend, Educational Leadership, 51(2): 4951.

  • Dersnah, M.A. (2016) Feminist Practice in an International Bureaucracy: Contestation Over the Field of Peace and Security at the United Nations, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Toronto.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dersnah, M.A. (2019) WPS inside the United Nations, in S.E. Davies and J. True (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security, Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press, pp 293301.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duncanson, C. (2013) Forces for Good: Military Masculinities and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq, Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ehlers, U. and Schneckenberg, D. (2010) (eds) Changing Cultures in Higher Education, Heidelberg: Springer.

  • Eisenstein, H. (1996) Inside Agitators: Australian Femocrats and the State, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

  • Engle, K. (2005) Feminism and its (dis)contents: criminalizing wartime rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, American Journal of International Law, 99(4): 778816. doi: 10.2307/3396669

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eschle, C. and Maiguashca, B. (2018) Theorising feminist organising in and against neoliberalism: beyond cooptation and resistance?, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 1(1/2): 22339. doi: 10.1332/251510818X15272520831120

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eyben, R. (2013) Finding our organizational way, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Development Organizations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Books for Development, pp 11726.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eyben, R. and Turquet, L. (2013) Introduction: feminist bureaucrats: inside-outside perspectives, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Development Organizations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Books for Development, pp 114.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feree, M.M. (2003) Resonance and radicalism: feminist framing in the abortion debates of the United States and Germany, American Journal of Sociology, 109(2): 30444. doi: 10.1086/378343

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ferguson, L. (2015) This is our gender person, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17(3): 38097. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2014.918787

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fonow, M. and Cook, J.A. (1991) Beyond Methodology: Feminist Scholarship as Lived Research, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

  • Fonow, M. and Cook, J.A. (2005) Feminist methodology: new applications in the academy and public policy, Signs, 30(4): 221136. doi: 10.1086/428417

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Galea, N. (2018) Built for Men: Masculine Privilege in the Australian Construction Sector, PhD thesis, UNSW.

  • Goetz, A.M. (2020) The new competition in multilateral normsetting: transnational feminists and the illiberal backlash, Daedalus, 149(1): 16079. doi: 10.1162/daed_a_01780

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. and Jenkins, R. (2016) Gender, security and governance: the case of Sustainable Development Goal 16, Gender and Development, 24(1): 12737. doi: 10.1080/13552074.2016.1144412

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goetz, A.M. and Jenkins, R. (2019) The WPS Agenda 25 Years After Beijing, expert paper for 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, New York, NY: UN Women, Available at: www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/csw/64/egm/goetzjenkinsexpert%20paperdraftegmb25ep4.pdf?la=en&vs=844

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hale, C. (2020) Time to look in the mirror: ICC community in need of perspective, Justice in Conflict, Available at: https://justiceinconflict.org/2020/05/27/time-to-look-in-the-mirror-a-response-to-icc-critics/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halley, J. (2008) Rape at Rome: feminist interventions in the criminalization of sex-related violence in positive international law, Michigan Journal of International Law, 30(1): 3123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Halley, J., Kotiswaran, P., Rebouché, R. and Shamir, H. (2018) Governance Feminism: An introduction, Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hawkesworth, M.E. (2006) Globalization and Feminist Activism, New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Hill Collins, P. (1986) Learning from the outsider within: the sociological significance of black feminist thought, Social Problems, 33(6): S14S32.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holvikivi, A. (2019) Gender experts and critical friends: research in relations of proximity, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 2(1): 13147. doi: 10.1332/251510819X15471289106068

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kapur, R. (2013) Gender, sovereignty and the rise of a sexual security regime in international law and postcolonial India, Melbourne Journal of International Law, 14(2): 31745.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Katzenstein, M. (1998) Faithful and Fearless: Moving Feminist Protest Inside the Church and Military, New Brunswick, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kouvo, S. and Pearson, Z. (2011) Introduction, in S. Kouvo and Z. Pearson (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance?, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp 112.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krook, M.L. and Mackay, F. (2011) (eds) Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

  • Lowndes, V. (2014) How are things done around here? Uncovering institutional rules and their gendered effects, Politics & Gender, 10(4): 68591.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lowndes, V. (2019) How are political institutions gendered?, Political Studies, 122, doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321719867667

  • Mackay, F. (2013) New Rules, Old Rules and the Gender Equality Architecture of the UN – the Creation of UN Women, paper presented at the American Political Science Association Conference, 30 August, Chicago.

  • Mackay, F. (2014a) ‘Nested newness’, institutional innovation, and the gendered limits of change, Politics & Gender, 10(4): 54971.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackay, F. (2014b) Global Governance and UN Women: Nested Newness and the Gendered Limits of Institutional Reform, paper presented at the International Studies Association Conference, 27 March, Toronto.

  • Mackay, F., Myers, F. and Brown, A. (2003) Towards a new politics? Women and the constitutional change in Scotland, in A. Dobrowolsky and V. Hart (eds) Women Making Constitutions: New Politics and Comparative Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp 8498.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mackay, F., Kenny, M. and Chappell, L. (2010) New institutionalism through a gender lens: towards a feminist institutionalism?, International Political Science Review, 31(5): 57388. doi: 10.1177/0192512110388788

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McBride, D. and Mazur, A. (2010) The Politics of State Feminism: Innovation in Comparative Research, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McBride, D. and Mazur, A. (2013) Women’s policy agencies and state feminism, in G. Waylen, K. Celis, J. Kantola and S.L. Weldon (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McLeod, L., Johnson, R., Meintjes, S., Brown, A. and Oosterveld, V. (2014) Gendering processes of institutional design: activists at the negotiating table, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 16(2): 35469. doi: 10.1080/14616742.2014.918777

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meyerson, D. (2001) Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

  • Natile, S. and Tapia, S.T. (2018) Governance feminism: an introduction, Law & Society Review, 52(4): 110611.

  • Nesiah, V. (2011) Missionary zeal for a secular mission: bringing gender to transitional justice and redemption to feminism, in S. Kouvo and Z. Pearson (eds) Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance?, Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp 13758.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ni Aolain, F. and Valji, N. (2019) Scholarly debates and contested meaning of WPS, in S.E. Davis and J. True (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 5366.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pillow, W. (2003) Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2): 17596. doi: 10.1080/0951839032000060635

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roth, B. (2006) Gender inequality and feminist activism in institutions: challenges of marginalization and feminist ‘fading’, in L. Chappell and L. Hill (eds) The Politics of Women’s Interests: New Comparative Perspectives, London: Routledge, pp 15774.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sandler, J. (2013) Regendering the United Nations: old challenges and new opportunities, in R. Eyben and L. Turquet (eds) Feminists in Development Organisations: Change from the Margins, Rugby: Practical Action Publishing, pp 14563.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sawer, M. (1990) Sisters in Suits: Women and Public Policy in Australia, Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

  • Sharp, D.N. (2019) Through a glass darkly: three conversations for human rights professionals, Journal of Human Rights Practice, 11(2): 19. doi: 10.1093/jhuman/huz017

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stetson, D. and Mazur, A. (1995) (eds) Comparative State Feminism, London: Sage.

  • Tripp, A.M. (2015) Women and Power in Post-conflict Africa, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Verge, T., Fuente, M. and Duran, M. (2019) Diagnosi del Pla d’Igualtat Del Parlament de Catalunya, Barcelona: Institut per a l’estudi i la transformació de la vida quotidiana, iQ, Available at: www.parlament.cat/document/actualitat/38460679

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Waylen, G. (2018) Understanding institutional change from a gender perspective, in William R. Thompson (ed) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weick, K.E. (1984) Small wins: redefining the scale of social problems, American Psychologist, 39(1): 409. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.39.1.40

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weldon, L. (2014) Using statistical methods to study institutions, Politics and Gender, 10(4): 66172. doi: 10.1017/S1743923X14000464

  • Wood, R. and Litherland, B. (2017) Critical feminist hope: the encounter of neoliberalism and popular feminism in WWE 24: women’s evolution, Feminist Media Studies, 18: 90522. doi: 10.1080/14680777.2017.1393762

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Woodward, A.E. (2015) Travels, triangles and transformations, Tijdschrift Voor Genderstudies, 18(1): 518. doi: 10.5117/TVGN2015.1.WOOD

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zwingel, S. (2016) Translating International Women’s Rights: The CEDW Convention in Context, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Louise ChappellUniversity of New South Wales, Australia

Search for other papers by Louise Chappell in
Current site
Google Scholar
Close
and
Fiona MackayUniversity of Edinburgh, UK

Search for other papers by Fiona Mackay in
Current site
Google Scholar
Close

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 226 221 0
Full Text Views 344 344 48
PDF Downloads 311 311 40

Altmetrics

Dimensions