Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Creating a Community of Critically Reflexive Feminist Scholars

Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Creating a Community of Critically Reflexive Feminist Scholars

Article excerpt


In this paper, the authors explain and display their process for becoming more critically reflexive scholars (Cunliffe, 2003). This is accomplished through creating a community of critically reflexive scholars. Within this community of inquiry (Eriksen, 2001), participants attempt to go beyond a simple awareness of their ontological and epistemological assumptions and to reflex upon their individual uniqueness as a human being who is engaged in scholarship. In other words, each participant jointly attempts to understand his or her self as a scholar. Specifically, in this article, the authors critically reflex upon their selves within the context of their roles as feminist scholars. The process of inquiry consists of ongoing four stages: giving an account of one's self with respect to a particular area of scholarship, reading everyone else's account, and responding to reading each others account, and finally sharing these responses with one another. Through this process, the authors not only became more critically reflexive scholars but were also personally transformed and obtained a deeper understanding of feminism.

Keywords: self-reflexivity, self-awareness, dialogue, inquiry, feminism


Based on my initial reflections on Sc'Moi's conference theme of feminism and what to write about for the conference, I found myself reflecting upon the question I am often asked by those who become aware of my work with female cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on their livedexperience as female cadets and our efforts to change the Coast Guard Academy to improve female cadets' leadership development and day-to-day lives at the Academy. The question that is most often raised is "why?" "Why do I engage is such research?"

I most often answer with something to the effect that it is because I had been engaged with racial diversity issues at the University of Rhode Island while a graduate student there, and I planned on continuing this work at the Coast Guard Academy but quickly found out race was not something that was openly discussed at the Academy, at least outside of Admissions. Also, the multicultural organizations at the Academy function primarily as social clubs - this is not meant to trivialize their purpose because this is a very important need they fulfill. But they do not engage in the activist role that multicultural organizations do on most college campuses.

Although not very relevant to the day-today embodied experience of female cadets, there was some discussion of gender at the Academy (this has improved somewhat because of the cadets' and my work and few other committed staff members). But the discussions mostly focused on the percentage of cadets that were women. The Administrators at the Coast Guard Academy focused on the fact that women made up more than twice the percentage of cadets as they as did at the other U.S. military academies. This of course was used to mitigate conversations concerning the actual lived-experience of female cadets. Based on some of the female cadets' personal leadership conundrums (a semester-long project based on the cadet's personal leadership conundrum (Eriksen, 2007) that they explored in my leadership course, I became aware of and interested in lived experience of female cadets' at the Academy and in the operational Coast Guard. This was the impetus for my ongoing work with female cadets and officers.

But what I have come to realize is that this explanation does not really answer the question in a meaningful way. In other words, it does not help me understand myself, why I engage in this type of teaching, research and change initiative, where I am positioned with respect to feminism and what it means to my research approach and day-to-day life. I shared these musing with my colleague Wanda, and through our discussion, we realized that each of us has a unique understanding of and relationship to "feminism" that has to do with our experiences, who we are and what social space(s) we occupy, or into which we are interpellated (Althusser, 1971 & Dugal. …

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