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Education Seminar Series 2021: Lad culture in higher education

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Lad culture in higher education: How do staff understand and explain sexism and sexual harassment in university contexts?

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The Department of Education of the University of Bath is delighted to welcome Professor Carolyn Jackson for our upcoming Seminar Series.

Abstract

This seminar draws on the research that examined sexism, sexual harassment and violence in university contexts. It explores how a diverse range of staff in six universities in England conceptualised ‘lad culture’ in universities, and how they understood and explained the sexism and sexual harassment seen to be part of that culture. Most staff conceptualised lad culture in ways that rendered it less visible to them, thus underestimating the pervasiveness of it. Furthermore, their explanations for it generally lacked a gendered analysis and instead referred to factors such as peer group influences, the need to ‘fit in’, immaturity, and the effects of alcohol. Such explanations tended to trivialise and minimise the pernicious effects of sexism, sexual harassment and violence, and ignored the gender norms and structural gender - and other intersecting - inequalities that underpin them. Professor Jackson will offer a different theorisation of lad culture and touch on the implications of this for challenging it.

Carolyn Jackson is Professor of Gender and Education in the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University. She has researched and published on gender and education for over 20 years. This presentation draws on her most recent book, co-authored with Vanita Sundaram (University of York) and published by Routledge in 2020 – ‘Lad Culture in Higher Education: Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Violence’. She has also published on ‘laddism’ in school contexts, including her 2006 book ‘Lads and Ladettes in School: Gender and a Fear of Failure’.

The seminar will be chaired by Carol Taylor, who is a Professor of Higher Education and Gender, and Research Director at the Department of Education, University of Bath. Her research focuses on the entangled relations of knowledge, power, gender, space and ethics in higher education and utilizes trans- and interdisciplinary feminist, new materialist and posthumanist theories and methodologies. She is also a co-editor of the journal Gender and Education.

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