Developing a theoretical framework for exploring the institutional responses to the Athena SWAN Charter in higher education institutions - a feminist institutionalist perspective
Why does the institutional response of higher education institutions to a ‘potentially institutionally transformative’ gender equality programme such as the Athena SWAN (AS) Charter matter? If a higher education institution seeks and attains the AS award, then the institutional response would be to embed the Charter’s action plans thoroughly without resistance or variation across higher education institutional contexts? These are the initial and broader reflective questions underpinning and inspiring this article. The reality is that the Athena SWAN Charter actions and commitments are not simply installed into the technical rules and procedures of higher education institutions, resulting in the organisational and cultural change it seeks. It is argued in this article that applying a feminist institutionalist lens, which deals with the exchange between formal and informal rules, norms and practices, and the roles played by actors working with the rules – the micro-foundations of gendered institutions – will inform our understanding of how a change programme such as Athena SWAN can instil institutional change- if any change. This article details a theoretical framework, drawing from the FI perspective, which will be applied to an empirical study exploring the institutional responses of higher education institutions to the Athena SWAN process in Ireland
Higher education , Athena SWAN , Feminist Institutionalism , Gender equality
O’Mullane, M. (2021) ‘Developing a theoretical framework for exploring the institutional responses to the Athena SWAN Charter in higher education institutions - a feminist institutionalist perspective’, Irish Journal of Sociology, 29(2), pp. 215–235. doi:10.1177/0791603521995372
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