I work as a researcher at the Centre for Gender Research and at the Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU. I have two ongoing research projects:
To stop counting bodies: New ideas for a gender equal forest sector (Skogssällskapet 2018-2021)
The value of stakeholder participation in collaborative research projects for sustainable development: A gender and intersectional analysis (Formas 2018-2021)
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I have a specific focus on feminist theory and gender perspectives on academic organisations and on environmental issues. I have two new research projects where the focus lie on the latter, while my PhD thesis from 2016 focused on gender equality and meritocracy in academic organisations.
In my Formas project The value of stakeholder participation in collaborative research projects for sustainable development: A gender and intersectional analysis (Formas 2018-2021) I ask questions about whose perspectives, knowledge and participation we see in the present environmental discourse. A gender perspective on this gives the opportunity to display relations of power and influence in order to develop the environmental governance and policy. The aim is to investigate who participates and why in collaborative research projects aiming at sustainable development. https://www.slu.se/en/departments/urban-rural-development/research/environmental-communication/ongoing-research/stakeholder-participation/
My second research project To stop counting bodies: New ideas for a gender equal forest sector (Skogssällskapet 2018-2021) started in 2018. The focus here is the gender equality discourse in the forestry sector, through the lens of the forestry education at SLU, and the #metoo. How do the ways do we talk about, think about and do gender have material lived effects in the forestry sector? /https://www.slu.se/en/departments/urban-rural-development/research/environmental-communication/ongoing-research/equal-forestsector/
My PhD thesis Gender Equality and Meritocracy: Contradictory discourses in the Academy examines how gender equality measures and discourses are reconciled with notions of merit in academia. Gender equality is often defined as equal rights for women and men and has become a widely accepted political goal and vision. Meritocratic principles build on the assumption that everyone, regardless of gender, class, race and sexuality, has the same opportunities to advance provided they are sufficiently hardworking and intelligent. Meritocratic principles thus build on the assumption that objective evaluations are possible. Along these lines, inequalities in academia are a natural outcome and not the result of discrimination. However, feminist studies have shown that meritocratic practices fail to reach these objective evaluations and that gendered norms influence who is considered merited and not. This awareness of discrimination leads to academic organisations being required to act upon inequalities and ensure that gender equality measures are taken, despite the strong conviction that meritocracy is already in place. Thus, we have two contradictory discourses that have to be reconciled in order to co-exist in academia. Through which processes does this reconciliation take place? With a view to answering this, I examine a gender equality project at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU. The material includes interviews, focus-group interviews, surveys, participant observations and literature reviews. The research methodology is based on action research and the analysis on relational and critical discourse analysis. The research finds that meritocracy and gender equality are reconciled through three processes; 1) by creating the gender inequality discourse as a matter for the individual, not the organisation 2) through depoliticisation of gender equality where administration rather than inequalities are in focus and 3) through a process of decoupling where gender equality is separated from the permanent organisation. These processes make it possible for meritocracy and gender equality to co-exist as two important principles of academic practice, despite their contradicting values. However, this separation of discourses contributes to the persistence of inequality in academic organisations. Further, these three processes work to silence counter discourses on gender equality that have become visible in the Gender Equality Project.
Powell, S. & Arora Jonsson, S. (forthcoming) Den politiska korrekthetens etik. In: Participatory Action Research Community (SPARC) anthology.
Powell, S. (2018) Gender Equality in Academia: Intentions and Consequences. In: The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations: Annual Review, 18:1. doi:https://cgscholar.com/bookstore/works/gender-equality-in-academia
N. Powell, R. Kløcker Larsen, A. de Bruin, S. Powell and C. Elrick-Barr (2017) Water Security in Times of Climate Change and Intractability: Reconciling Conflict by Transforming Security Concerns into Equity Concerns, in Water, 9(12), 934; doi:10.3390/w9120934
Powell, S., Ah-King, M. & Hussénius A. (2017) ‘Are we to become a gender university?’ Facets of resistance to a gender equality project. Gender Work Organization, 2017;1–17.
Powell, S. (2016) Gender equality and meritocracy: Contradictory discourses in the academy, Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU, ISBN: 978-91-576-8536-0.
Powell, S. & S. Arora-Jonsson (2015) The Ethics of Political Correctness. In: Understanding Social Science Research Ethics: Inter-disciplinary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives for a Globalising World, Publisher: Routledge, forthcoming. 2015., Editors: K. Nakray, M. Alston and K. Whittenbury (eds)
Westberg L. & Stina Powell (2015): Participate for Women's Sake? A Gender Analysis of a Swedish Collaborative Environmental Management Project, Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1014594
Powell, S., Ah-King, M. (2013). A case study of integrating gender perspectives in teaching and in subject content at a natural science university in Sweden, International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, Vol.5, No.1
Klocker Larsen, R., S. Powell, T. Peterson, N. Sriskandarajah. (2010)Towards a learning model of ICT application for development: Lessons from a networked dialogue in Sweden. Information Communication and Society 13(1):136–150 .
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