Sue Jackson



There has been much discussion of late of the decline in women’s studies in the British academy. Discussion has ranged around the institutional closing down of women’s studies departments and programmes, and around the experiences of students on women’s studies degrees. What is it like, though, to be a lecturer in women’s studies in an academy, which often feels like an alien and unwelcoming place to be. What brought lecturers in women’s studies to their discipline, and how do they see their future? What constrains do they face on their current work? Can women’s studies challenge traditional academic structures? What is the role of women’s studies in the academy?

I have documented the briefer views of women’s studies lecturers on these issues elsewhere (Jackson, (1999(a)); Jackson (2000(a)). This article is based on in depth interviews with the lecturers in one women’s studies department in a ‘new’ university in London (see appendix 1 for the interview questions). As with any group of women (albeit a very small group of four), the lecturers have differences between them, as well as similarities they share. I have here, for reasons of confidentiality, chosen to say little about the lecturers individually in terms of social class, age, sexuality etc. Nevertheless, these differences are issues, which the lecturers discussed during the interviews, and they will be included here. I have on the whole chosen to write their comments collectively rather than separately, again because of issues of confidentiality. Some of the lecturers commented that their positions are well known within their department, and this alone might identify them. Although then my collective and nameless writing up might appear to distance the lecturers and seems not to acknowledge them as people this is not my intention. The lecturers all work within women’s studies, some full-time, whilst others work part-time in women’s studies and part-time in other disciplines, and have been working at the university for a varying number of years.

Author Biography

Sue Jackson, Women’s Studies Programme, School of Humanities and Cultural Studies University of Surrey, Roehampton