22 SES 07 B, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
The paper discusses gender justice in relation to higher education in South Africa. We look at difference in relation to the structure of race, for its salience in South Africa but also globally, and especially in Europe, where countries are struggling with the impact of migration on nations and not doing well in terms of both dignity and difference. We are further interested in structures of gender and the differences which may have emerged among black women, previously the most oppressed social group in South Africa. Our key question is: “How does higher education contribute to or constrain what each woman is free to do and achieve as a fully dignified human being in pursuit of the goals she regards as important?” Because education is seen as central to human capability expansion and to the empowerment of individuals, we ask about the contribution or barriers of university education and university experiences. We want to understand the development over time of black women’s well-being, understood in terms of capabilities, that is reasoned values and the significance of agency. We are concerned with Nussbaum’s (2011) foundational value of dignity and Sen’s (1999) emphasis on diversity and difference in people’s ability to convert the resources they have into capabilities. Women are not homogeneous groups but will differ in significant ways. We aim to capture these differences. The project will be exploring intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991), understood as a holistic approach to analyze how social and cultural categories, such as race, gender and social class interweave, so that discrete forms of oppression shape, and are shaped by, one another. Haslanger (2000) suggests that while it can be helpful to consider gender and race on their own, theorizing them together can provide us with valuable resources, and some of the parallels between race and gender also helps us to locate important differences between them. What it means to be female interacts with other socially relevant characteristics such as race or class. Women have in common that they are all socially disadvantaged but there will be cultural variation in how this is experienced. Robeyns (2010) argues that gender norms and stereotypes shape what women take themselves to be. Different forms of internalized oppression, such as passive acceptance of gender roles, racism or class stereotypes will therefore also be focused on. Similarly, social institutions are also gendered, taking gender differences and inequalities as ‘natural’ and ‘normal’. Conforming avoids pain and loss, while non-conformity risks disapproval and marginalization. Gender norms, stereotypes, institutions, and identity formation can therefore also be sources of unjust disadvantage for women.
Crenshaw, K. W. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color, Stanford Law Review, 43 (6), pp 1241–1299 Haslanger, S. (2000) Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be? Noûs 34 (1):, pp31-55 Robeyns, I. (2010) Gender and the metric of justice’, in: H. Brighouse and I. Robeyns (eds.) Measuring Justice: Primary Goods and Capabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Nussbaum, M. (2011) Creating Capabilities. Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press
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