Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Yes, we do need gender studies - please vote

You may have read in this morning's Dom-Post about the axing of gender studies at Victoria University. The university claims that other faculties will offer similar courses instead, and that "The university has developed considerable strength in gender studies across a number of faculties and programmes." Well, the last list I saw, put out in the earliest round of socalled "consultation" on gender and women's studies to prove that the programme wasn't needed, included anything that even mentioned "male" and "female" - for example, courses in tourism, because they gathered tourism statistics by gender. That is not gender studies.

Vic has been trying to get rid of gender and women's studies for a long time, and now it has succeeded.

The online article includes a vote on whether there is still a place for gender studies at universities. So far votes are running strongly against, and the associated comments include some very nasty stuff.

Gender and women's studies programmes are the only programmes in any university which focus explicitly on the operation, meaning and significance of gender as such, not simply as an aspect of something else, such as the history of labour. In other words, they deal with an absolutely central facet of human society, but one which was, until very recently, completely ignored in university curricula, save in the form of deeply rooted and sometimes explicitly voiced assumptions about women's inferiority, whether in science, maths, literature, art...or simply their physiology.

While a number of papers offered in various other programmes at Victoria do use gender as a category of analysis, none of them are able to provide the intellectual framework that enables students to “make sense” of gender in the way that a dedicated gender studies programme does. Without such a programme, of course, it also becomes impossible to major in gender studies and make further contributions to this field – an effective way of removing a much-needed New Zealand perspective from the international academic conversation.


Yet as we are reminded every day, gender is a complex, contentious, constantly shifting aspect of human society which must be made sense of in order to understand what is happening today and what has happened in the past. The study of gender is not an interesting optional extra, to be dealt with only as and when individual staff in other disciplines wish to consider it as part of what they teach.

I keep imagining young women, 20 years in the future, coming across dusty shelves deep in the library stackroom full of late twentieth and early twenty-first century books about women and gender, and being astonished to discover all this knowledge and analysis that they had no idea had ever existed. So then they start a new feminist movement - what would it be, the third wave? the fourth? And they start delving into the history and significance of gender, which has completely vanished from the university curriculum, now devoted solely to employment-related training courses....

14 comments:

Hollie said...

Great post! I agree wholeheartedly, and am very sad to see Women's and Gender Studies taken away like this.

I have made a comment on Stuff. I usually avoid such things as the comments sections tend to drive me up the wall - but thought other, less nasty, voices needed to be heard. It seems, however, the moderators have gone home for the evening.

It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

Hugh said...

The question is, if not Gender Studies, what should the university be cutting? Is there a subject you feel is less worthwhile? Maybe one of those employment-related training courses?

Falafulu Fisi said...

Gender studies don’t belong at University level. It is a waste of time and it is also useless. The resources that use to run it should be diverted to high worthy courses such as engineering, science & technology.

I am posting this message on a computer, through a telecommunication line invented & designed by engineers & scientists and not by ponce gender studies scholars.

I say chop useless department such as gender studies, maori studies, pacific studies, educations, etc,... Our universities can just live with core faculties and still be competitive worldwide. Not only that, our economic growth is not based on more useless arts degrees such as gender studies. It depends heavily in engineering and also science & technology.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Falafulu

You certainly are full of fisis.

The hard sciences uninformed by the humanities created such engineering feats as auschwitz, and majdanek - highly efficient industrialised killing machines.

However, one course that should definitely end is redneck studies - not only is it aesthetically distasteful - its ugly tones clash with the sun kissed hues of polynesia.

Falafulu Fisi said...

Adele said...
You certainly are full of fisis

Yes, that's right. That's the reason I gained a PhD in Physics, because the neurons in my brain are full of fisis (as you correctly pointed out).

You said...
The hard sciences uninformed by the humanities created such engineering feats as auschwitz, and majdanek - highly efficient industrialised killing machines

Umm, you talk nonsense and your example is irrelevant and has got nothing to do with engineering/science. It is obvious that your reasoning/thinking sounds like someone who graduated from humanities. What productive work that you can contribute to society with such qualifications?

It would be hard to find anything productive with such qualifications in today's competitive environment and that's a fact, unless you become a policy-advisor at Women's Affairs Department, which is an unproductive department and a drained (financially) on taxpayers.

The reason that CalTech (California Institute of Technology) and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) are top universities where they act as the driving force & main engine of US technological economic growth is because they have less emphasis on teaching useless arts qualifications. Lets face it. The engine of an economy starts with productions. Productions come from entrepreneurships & knowledge in technology, engineering & science.

Our Universities must trim down and close useless departments. The resources can be diverted to engineering, science & technology and perhaps some big corporation will spring up in the future from local inventions, which will be competitive globally, similar to the birth of Intel Corp, where ideas from Caltech were being commercialized.

I suggest you stop trying to cry to be the same because definitely Gender studies are useless and it can't be compared to engineering, science & technology studies.

Adele said...

Teenaa koe, Falafulu

Yes, that's right. That's the reason I gained a PhD in Physics, because the neurons in my brain are full of fisis (as you correctly pointed out).

And what productive contribution have you made to the field of physics of benefit to this country outside of some densely worded dissertation on the efficacy of mammillary glands on the bovine toro.

There are a lot of graduates from the hard sciences that make no contribution whatsoever to the prosperity of this country.

My background is in business, law, and medicine. Nothing soft about any of that, However, even I see the value of the humanities,including gender studies, in terms of how we treat others - either as clients / patients, or as employees.

The adage a happy workforce is a more productive workforce holds true - an understanding of the motivations and inspirations that drive performance is a necessity in the modern age - especially as slavery is no longer a relevant management technique.

My example is sound and speaks to the value of the humanities in balancing the 'hardness' attached to cold logic.

Crone said...

Perhaps if Falafulu Fisi had taken an Arts degree her/his spelling and grammar would not be letting her/him down now and detracting from her/his arguments.

stargazer said...

applause, adele. what a wonderful comment!

StephenR said...

The online article includes a vote on whether there is still a place for gender studies at universities. So far votes are running strongly against, and the associated comments include some very nasty stuff.

Not that such a poll is worth much, but it's pretty reasonable to assume that a lot of commenters on the article think of Gender Studies as whatever they want it to be, rather than having any close idea of what it actually is.

Can anyone elaborate on this:

Because fewer resources had gone into the programme, it had become less attractive for new students.

?

One would think if people were interested, they'd do it - I doubt they'd even be aware of any resource issues. Resource requirements are presumably fairly low for an Arts course too...

Falafulu Fisi said...

Crone, English is my second language, so it shouldn't be surprised the grammar/language is not perfect. Arts graduates are excel in that where as in Physics or (Physics-based) Engineering, grammar is not that important.

However symbolic language understanding capability such as this one, is what's required for anyone to succeed in physics & engineering.

I studied together and have done post doc work with some Chinese scholars and I can tell you, that their English language is much worse than me, but they've got brains. You're lucky that you don't have to speak or study in any other language and I doubt that you can even speak my language fluently (Tongan). I bet that if you try to learn Tongan and write Tongan, you would be having a bad grammar as someone who's English as a second language.

Anyway, you haven't contributed anything useful to the debate rather than you taking a snide. The language that one speaks has no relevance here. It is what's inside's ones head that counts.

Adele said...

My background is in business, law, and medicine


I'm sorry Adele, but you're still trying to cry to be the same. Business studies are not hard. I have read more than 4,000 peer review papers in economics even though I had never formally studied the subject. There are certain areas in economics that I know more about than PhD economists who have been practicing their profession for years.

Why am I able to do that (i.e., acquiring economics knowledge) without a formal study on the subject? Because, as the old saying goes, if one is taught to understand the complex of all complexities, then everything else below is easy. The reason for me to do that (economics self-taught) is because I write commercial analytic software in that domain (financial economics), which I didn't want to hire economists/financial analysts to consult to me on developing the software product. I wanted to do it on my own, because I can. It is also less cost, if I do it myself. Imagine if I turn myself and teach myself in business? I can do that too, because it is not going to be difficult (fact) as physics.

I frequently read about business issues, since I run my own small software company, just to know enough, but I am not going to read 4,000 peer review papers on business studies, because I don't see that as being much relevant to running a small company. I'll do that if I want to become a teaching academic.

Adele said...
And what productive contribution have you made to the field of physics of benefit to this country outside...

Adele, I hold 4 US patents in the field of Photonics. I had consulted to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare division and some of my design has been commercialized by them. You can see some of those medical instrumentation equipments @ our hospitals (local & international). F&P Healthcare is a strong export company, which their range of products are very competitive worldwide and I can say, that I've played a part in that.

What have you contributed to this country's export Adele? What have humanity qualifications been contributing to the industry exports of this country?

Falafulu Fisi said...

Blog admin, why is my comment being removed? Is it because you can't argue on an intellectual level? Um, I think that I know the reason. All you here are humanities graduates, where critical thinking is not part of the curriculum. Hehe, it is true.

I replied to Adele, and you remove it, just because you can't put forward a counter-argument.

so you tell me said...

I agree with Falufulu, let's just have subjects that build bombs so we can kill more efficiently.

Anonymous said...

Yay for democracy - have a vote that is for Gender Studies.
And Humanities. And critical thinking (the two are not mutually exclusive).

cjmax02

Adele said...

Mālō e lelei, Falafulu

To gain a patent requires legal expertise care of a patent attorney. To commercialise a patent, or technological innovation, that is, to bring the realm of thought into the realm of practical application requires a range of skills: business feasibility analysis, product design and development, marketing, legal, accounting, management, and, of course, someone to pay the bills.

Once commercialised, it requires a manufacturing and distribution base, so other skills are needed: production capacity, logistics, health and safety, cost accounting, employment relations, workforce development, administration, management, strategic planning, governance and a tea person.

F&P has manufacturing bases in Thailand, Mexico, the United States, Italy and Australia and also has a major shareholder in Haier, a leading company in China so expertise in cross cultural communications is required. And, the question needs to be asked as to how much of F&P’s profits are returned to NZ

Secondly, holding a patent means absolutely nothing unless it becomes commercialised.

Imagine if I turn myself and teach myself in business? I can do that too, because it is not going to be difficult

There is a difference between learning business and being good at business – Graeme Hart, our most successful business leader in terms of wealth acquired an MBA only after years of success. Bill Gates is a college dropout.

Because, as the old saying goes, if one is taught to understand the complex of all complexities, then everything else below is easy.

The sciences located in the Western tradition are relatively easy in comparison to the maatauranga contained in Te Ao Taangata Whenua.

what have you contributed to this country's export Adele? What have humanity qualifications been contributing to the industry exports of this country?

I make a contribution in terms of forestry, farming, fishing and tourism. All four are significant contributors to the economy of Aotearoa. These sectors however are also significant contributors to the degradation of the biosphere – the whenua, awa, and moana. From a perspective housed in Te Ao Taangata Whenua (a humanities perspective) we think ecological sustainability, environmental protection, and the maintenance of biodiversity – a more lucrative business model in so many ways.