Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Mapping Women's and Gender Studies in the Academic Field in Slovenia

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Mapping Women's and Gender Studies in the Academic Field in Slovenia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Maca Jogan, one of the professors in Slovenia who, in the field of sociology, undertook pioneering work in WGS, recollects how male professors in the 1970s reacted to her as she started to work on women's issues in academia:

"A science existed or it did not exist, asserted my colleagues. Of course I principally agreed with this statement, but I had always in mind the question: What kind of science? When, at the end of the 1970s, I wished to make a systematic investigation of the changes in the position of women, one of my colleagues, an eminent Professor, said to me: 'You are known as a really serious woman but you are entering into this very unserious field!' Nonetheless, I entered the field, though I was often very lonely" (Jogan, 2006, p. 35).

This recollection of Prof. Jogan refers to events at a time when, in the USA as well as in some Nordic countries, women's studies had already started entering university programmes. Alice E. Ginsberg, editor of the book The Evolution of American Womens Studies: Reflections on Triumphs, Controversies and Change (2008) writes in the introductory chapter that the first entries of women's studies into American universities date from the 1960s and 1970s (Ginsberg, 2008, p. 1). In her analysis of the birth of women's studies in Nordic countries, Drude Dahlerup similarly writes that they developed as a discipline in that part of the world in the 1970s and 1980s (Dahlerup, 2015, p. 1). Both authors agree that women's studies courses emerged from the women's movement. They refer to the critique of the male dominance and gender blindness of the university as it privileged the study of white middleclass heterosexual men, and they ask how this can be changed.

Comparative research on the Impact of Women's Studies Training on Womens Employment in Europe from 20032 shows that women's studies developed unevenly throughout the nine participating countries (Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Spain Slovenia, UK), starting from 1974 in Italy to 1995 in Spain (39). It was also found that these studies were initially mostly situated in social science and humanities programmes. They were largely established as master's programmes, but it was also possible to take modules as part of other disciplines. In the majority of these countries, it was also possible to gain a PhD in women's studies (38). The research discusses, inter alia, the processes of institutionalisation of women's studies in the respective countries. In so doing, it traces factors that promoted the process of institutionalisation and factors that hindered it. As developed by Harriet Silius (2002), these factors were: a high degree of university autonomy in developing curricula, modularity, support or neutrality of the women's movement regarding institutionalisation, state support for the subject and the counter effects that slow down or obstruct the process. The authors of the research agree with Silius that the institutionalisation of women's studies went through six phases: activist (individual optional modules appear in traditional degrees); establishment (generic and thematic modules are introduced, interdisciplinary co-teaching units are established); integration (women's studies modules became part of the core compulsory provision of traditional disciplines); professionalisation (women's studies degrees are introduced and women's studies staff, including professors, are appointed); disciplinisation (department-like centres for teaching, research and documentation are established); and autonomy (women's studies function like any other discipline, with accreditation, funding and degree-awarding rights) (41). Based on the reported data, the institutionalisation phase of women's studies in the countries analysed was rated as high, low or medium. Slovenia appears in the lower part of the ranking table with a low institutionalisation rate, accompanied by Italy and France, where the women's movement was strongly against institutionalisation (42) and Hungary, where the wider political culture embodied prevailing traditional attitudes towards gender equality. …

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