Women and the neoliberal academy

Publication Year : 2021

One of the biggest issues with academia in our country is a lack of ideological commitment to our own research”. I heard this from someone in my social circle in a recent discussion. It was one of those statements that have an impact. We work in an environment where passionate adherence to one’s research ideology borders with irrationality; and a certain cold and distant objectivity is somewhat desirable. It had me thinking for much of what we understand as a ‘given’ is based on this assumption of objectivity.

One of the several issues that have captivated me through the course of my career is the precarious nature of women’s careers. Women, having similar educational background and professional experience levels as their male counterparts, experience way more irregularity in terms of career progression. This may be reflected in the form of long career breaks, opt-outs, slow growth, etc. There are many readily available explanations for this precarity, even if you were to ask somebody at random. The motherhood, caregiving and familial responsibility render many women unable to cope with the nature of their jobs hence they choose to opt-out or take breaks. In this discussion, rarely if ever does one question the nature of the job that is so designed that a woman is unfit for it by virtue of being a woman, or a mother, or having a family to care for.

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The author is an assistant professor at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad

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