The Failure of Gender Equality Initiatives in Academia: Exploring Defensive Institutional Work in Flemish Universities. By: Roos, Hannelore; Mampaey, Jelle; Huisman, Jeroen; Luyckx, Joost. Gender & Society. Jun2020, Vol. 34 Issue 3, p467-495. 29p.

Although a large number of studies have explored the main causes of gender inequality in academia, less attention has been given to the processes underlying the failure of gender equality initiatives to enhance gender representation, especially at the professorial level. We offer a critical discourse analysis of recently promulgated gender policy documents of the five Flemish universities, and demonstrate that defensive institutional work is a fundamental process underlying resistance to gender equality in the academic profession. That is, powerful organizational actors resist gender change by (un)intentionally deploying a combination of discursive strategies that legitimate what we describe as non–time-bound gender equality initiatives: The expected outcomes are undetermined in time, and they delegitimate concrete, time-bound measures that define specific outcomes against well-defined deadlines. By explicitly bringing a temporal dimension into our analysis, we argue that defensive institutional work deflects questions regarding what ought to be achieved when, and contributes to the slow pace of gender change in academia.