March 19, 2013, by ICCSR
What the Feminists Thought: Taking CSR To New Audiences
InterGender.net is a site well worth looking at if you’re ‘into’ gender theories and feminist studies. It was just by chance that I stumbled across a doctoral course they were running called ‘Let’s Get Organised! Gender, Organisations, Policy, Power’ which called for doctoral researchers studying these concepts. A frenzied application later, and I was on my way to Linköping University, a small town south of Stockholm, Sweden.
The course appealed to me as a CSR & gender researcher marooned in a Business School, as it sometimes feels as if I have grown two heads when attempting to present my work or discuss the social construction of gender over lunch. In Linköping I was surrounded by others who not only knew what I was talking about, but mostly agreed with me! I wanted to test out the theories I was using with some of Feminist Organisational Theory’s veterans (Mieke Verloo, Jeff Hearn & Anna Wahl) and the new generation of students quickly advancing behind them. These came from a fantastic array of subject disciplines, studying crafts in Poland, to domestic violence in Russia, to executive recruitment processes in the UK.
That said, presenting work on CSR outside of the cosy CSR world can be daunting, especially so in what I presumed to be a left-leaning sort of crowd. CSR is often (sometimes rightly so) critiqued and dismissed as corporate green-wash. Moving beyond the binaries was a theme we discussed a lot over the three days, in terms of seeing the potential in human beings beyond their sex/gender stereotypes. In a way, I felt I was able to also discuss CSR ‘beyond the binaries’, as neither always good, nor always bad, but as a phenomenon that warranted research and attention- especially with regard to women workers.
This open discussion of my project reflected a wider feeling of inclusiveness and respect that permeated the whole event. Perhaps it’s a feminist cliché, but here was a group of academics not likely to pick anyone’s work apart, negatively commenting or engaging in the ‘one-upmanship’ you sometimes see at academic conferences. A recent blog by the Thesis Whisperer asked ‘do you get further in Academe if you are a jerk?’ whilst outlining some of the nastier aspects of academic life. I’d have to say that at the InterGender event the answer was a resounding ‘no’. Constructive criticism never felt so good, and interdisciplinary courses contribute hugely to this supportive environment.
By Lauren McCarthy (@genderCSR), Graduate Teaching Assistant & Doctoral Researcher at the ICCSR.
Image: by briansuda reproduced under creative commons license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/suda/2955327242/