Heather Savigny is the “Professor” of Gender, Media and Politics at De Montfort University. In the context of academic job titles “Gender” means, of course, “otherwise unemployable whiny taxpayer-funded feminist parasite”, but maybe that’s too long to fit onto business cards. Our thanks to Mary for pointing us to “Professor” Savingy’s latest whineathon, on the LSE website, Gender and the ‘impact’ agenda: the costs of public engagement to female academics. The start of the piece:
In 2014 I was interviewed for the Independent on Sunday about a paper I published on women’s experiences of sexism in academia. The interview, I was advised, would be another excellent dimension to my ‘impact case study’. Here was an example of ‘public engagement’ and the kind of thing that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) agenda is seeking to foster.
Shortly after that interview I received an email telling me that I had been awarded ‘whiny feminist of the month’. The man who had sent this email blind copied in some of my senior male colleagues. His email and publicly available blogpost were clearly designed to humiliate and potentially silence me. (Although I was reassured I was in excellent company: Harriet Harman, Laura Bates, Jo Swinson, Caroline Criado Perez have also been ‘recipients’). [J4MB: If this is “excellent” company, what would bad company look like?]
Reflecting on this experience led to a discussion as to whether this constituted ‘impact’ in relation to the requirements of the REF. The institutional response was no. Which in turn got me thinking about what it is that counts as impact. Is it only something that leads to positive change? And what about the negative consequences of engaging in impact and public engagement strategies? Do these not ‘count’, especially knowing women are more likely to be subject to online abuse?
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