Radical Geography? Feminist pedagogy? Community engagement and activism? These were just some of the watchwords at the cross-border Great Lakes Feminist Geography Workshop, held in Guelph, Ontario from May 2nd to 4th. With a competitive grant from the Antipode Foundation, entitled “Regional Revolutions: Advancing radical geographical scholarship and practice through feminist geography across the Canada-US borderlands”, more than two dozen feminists in geography from Canadian and US universities in the Great Lakes ‘region’ came together to discuss research, teaching, public engagement and the discipline through various presentations, conversations, and wonderful food.
The workshop was inspired by the three co-organizers: Roberta Hawkins (University of Guelph), Alice Hovorka (University of Guelph), and Alison Mountz (Wilfrid Laurier University/Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo), who collaborated to create a highly original and interactive program. The agenda was ambitious: the workshop provided a safe space to question the silences of the academy and explore the contentious place of feminist geography as a taught subject within the discipline. We talked about the victories and simultaneous silences of feminist politics in geography and of the various institutional spaces we find ourselves inhabiting, as well as of the neoliberal environments in which most of us work. Discussed more than once were the prices these structures can exact on faculty members, students’, and staff members’ everyday lives. Concerns were also raised over the retrenchment of jobs in geography, the precariousness of much academic employment, and continued exclusions marked by race, class, and gender, in particular. Silences around mental health and physical health were discussed.
From the politics of and disparities in parental leave to the academic practices of citing ‘others’ and questions of representation, so many issues were raised. Our only regret is that there was not enough time to work through each point made in more detail: the conversations could have gone on for weeks. Yet, break out groups met and action plans for the near and far future were laid.
While a feminist nation was not quite finalized in the short time available, extremely good energy and enthusiasm defined the event from its kickoff. Now that the workshop is over, the Great Lakes Feminist Geography Collective has been launched, and a range of actions are underway, from collective writing projects, to our postcard drop at the AAG meeting. We hope to share data and action plans, and engage a broader audience through this site, and we look forward to having you join us.
AAG POSTCARD DROP
At the workshop in May 2013, we decided that one way to generate a broader dialogue on some of the key themes raised by participants was to develop a series of provocative postcards to distribute at the 2014 Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual meeting in Tampa, FL. We settled on three of the key concerns discussed at the workshop: diversity, parental leave/work-life balance, and mental health.
This action was inspired by the pink flyer brigade’s friendly intervention at the 2002 annual meeting in Los Angeles. At that meeting, participants distributed pink flyers with “shocking facts” about the gender divide in Canadian and US Geography departments. Details about this action can be found here:
We decided to update the 2002 statistics on the gender divide, as well as collect new data on journal editorship and parental leave policies, recognizing that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of exploring the broader issues of diversity and work-life balance. We started with a list of 85 Phd-granting departments in Canada and the US from the AAG, and then decided to remove 8 US departments that do not have a traditional Geography PhD program. We included departments that use the word Geography (or Geographical Sciences, or even Geosciences) in their title, even if it’s along with something else (like “Geography and Earth Sciences”), as well as departments such as the University of Alberta’s Earth and Atmospheric Science (EAS) department that is listed in the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) directory.
For the remaining 77 departments, we collected data on the gender and rank of faculty members listed on departments’ websites. We did some comparisons between website listings and other sources (e.g. the CAG directory), and decided that the websites provided the most up-to-date and readily available information, although we recognize that there will be some corrections to be made as we continue our research. The full list of departments included in our data collection is provided below.
For the data on journal editors, we identified the top 20 journals (by ISI/Thomson Reuters impact factor) and collected data from the journal websites about the gender of their editors.
We also collected data on parental leave policies from US institutions’ human resources websites (and other sites from the institutions detailing their parental leave policies). As a starting point, we focused on policies for birth mothers and partners in the United States, since Canadian federal law provides for significant paid leave through the Employment Insurance (EI) entitlement, whereas US federal law (namely, the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA) mandates only unpaid leave. We hope to collect additional data on adoption leave, leave for care of other family members (such as aging parents), as well as expanding the data to Canada to capture differences across institutions in terms of additional benefits beyond the federal entitlement.
As for mental health data, we had to rely on general data about student visits to US college and university counseling centers. We note, however, that this issue has touched many of us personally, and we hope to raise broader awareness within the discipline about student and faculty mental health issues and the need for systematic attention to them.
We intend to continue working on refining our data, creating searchable databases, and expanding our analysis to other issues and regions, and we would love to hear your initial feedback in the comments section.
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
INDIANA UNIVERSITY BLOOMINGTON
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
KENT STATE UNIVERSITY AT KENT
LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY AND AGRICULTURAL & MECHANICAL COLLEGE
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY–MAIN CAMPUS
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY–MAIN CAMPUS
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY–MAIN CAMPUS
RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY
SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY
TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY
TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY–SAN MARCOS
UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO, SUNY
UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA
UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI–MAIN CAMPUS
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA
UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS MAIN CAMPUS
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, BALTIMORE COUNTY
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA–TWIN CITIES
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT GREENSBORO
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA NORMAN CAMPUS
UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA–COLUMBIA
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS
UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON–SEATTLE CAMPUS
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–MADISON
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–MILWAUKEE
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
Simon Fraser University
Université de Montréal
University of Northern British Columbia
University of Alberta (EAS)
University of British Colombia
University of Calgary
University of Guelph
University of Manitoba
University of Ottawa
University of Regina
University of Saskatchewan
University of Toronto
University of Victoria
University of Waterloo
Wilfred Laurier University