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Gender, vulnerabilities, and how the other becomes the otherer in academia

Written by: Esme Franken, Fleur Sharafizad, Kerry Brown
Published on: Apr 8, 2024

Gender Vulnerability
Photo Credit: Seventyfour -



This article draws on the work of Judith Butler, particularly the notion of vulnerability in/as resistance, to explore the gendered experiences of women in Australian academia. Through employing an arts-based research method, Draw, Write, and Reflect, with women academics in Australia, we explore the ways in which vulnerabilities are identified and navigated in the context of academia. Our study identified three key forms of vulnerabilities: the expectation paradox, the body, and age and experience. Such vulnerabilities appeared to be navigated through acts of othering, denying, and overcoming. We return to Butler's call for the creation of gender trouble in making sense of these findings but find that what is instead occurring is within-gender trouble. We then explain how this aspect is shaped by the masculine and highly individualized structures of academia. Our findings extend Butler's notions of vulnerability in/as resistance by offering insights that capture a fragmented and sometimes impermeable space between vulnerabilities and resistance.

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