Established 1986. Number of members: 590

The ECPR Standing Group on Gender and Politics has been in existence since 1986. This Standing Group currently has over 550 members from different parts of the world and forms a broad-based network on issues relating to the study of gender and sexuality in politics and world politics. The Group actively encourages workshops, panels and research groups with an emphasis on gender and seeks to increase the profile of women in the main fields of political science.

Activities

  • A biennial European Conference on Politics and Gender. Our first conference was held in Belfast in January 2009. More information about the next conference in 2021 can be found here;
  • Organizing the gender and politics section at the ECPR General Conference;
  • Endorsement of ECPR Joint Session workshops organized by members of the Standing Group;
  • Organizing ad-hoc workshops (e.g. ‘New Frontiers in Teaching Politics, Gender and Sexuality – 16 January 2020);.
  • Mailing list: a vibrant information and disseminating opportunity about conferences, grants, jobs, and books;
  • A ‘syllabus bank‘ of gender and politics courses taught worldwide;
  • Other activities very soon.

Steering committee

  • Petra Ahrens (Co-Chair) – Tampere University (Finland)
  • Silvia Erzeel (Co-Chair) – Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)
  • Anna van der Vleuten – Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands)
  • Rossella Ciccia – Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland)
  • Conny Roggeband – University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • Robin Devroe – Ghent University (Belgium)
  • Rosa Roig – University of Valencia (Spain)

More information on the Steering committee members can be found here

History

In this excerpt from the book “The ECPR’s First Forty Years 1970-2010” (Newton & Boncort, 2010: 32) Joni Lovenduski briefly explains the history of the SG on Gender and Politics:

The ECPR Standing Group on Gender and Politics

In January 2009 hundreds of political scientists gathered at Queen’s University Belfast for the first European Conference on Gender and Politics. The conference was a triumph for its organisers, Karen Celis and Johanna Kantola, the conveners of the ECPR Standing Group on Gender and Politics. It was also a great satisfaction for those of us who have supported the standing group since its foundation in 1986. During the intervening 23 years there were times when the whole enterprise of establishing the study of gender and politics in the ECPR seemed doomed.

The first women and politics workshop was in Berlin 1977, organised by Helga Hernes and Elina Haavio-Mannila. Two very successful workshops in the early 1980s signalled growing interest in the area. Both led to successful ECPR edited books – the Freiburg (1983) workshop on women’s movements produced Drude Dahlerup’s The New Women’s Movements and The New Politics of Abortion was based on the workshop Joyce Outshoorn organised at the Salzburg Joint Sessions in 1984.

Even so the study of gender was disdained by many political scientists. Many early participants reported they had been advised by their supervisors or department heads that there was no future in the study of women, such research did not count, would be a career disaster, it was at best sociology, at worst women’s studies. One vociferous ECPR Executive Committee member spoke for some others when he proclaimed at Salzburg that the subject had now been dealt with, there was no more of interest to be learned and any more workshops on the topic would lead participants to repeat themselves, something that was apparently not tolerated in the ‘mainstream’ workshops. These opinions were voiced at successive joint sessions of workshops. It seemed to many of us that without organisation, networks, resources and infrastructure, we were in danger of being at worst excluded, at best reprogrammed as experts on some area or other of politics defined by others. There were very few in a position to do much as the creation of an organisation required resources and many of the researchers were on temporary contracts, doctoral students or untenured lecturers. Those with some job security were routinely made to do their gender research in their ‘spare time’ as though it were a hobby rather than proper professional activity.

Hoping for change, Diane Sainsbury called a meeting of feminist political scientists at the Gothenburg Joint Sessions to discuss the future. The meeting was well attended and the future turned out to be a standing group. We called it the Women rather than Gender and Politics group, not because we did not understand the difference, but because we were not sure that anyone else did (a worry that continues). We also wanted to signal two concerns – the development of good research into the political science of sex and gender and the position of women in European political science. Because no one else could take it on it was agreed that Helga Hernes and I would convene the group. However, almost immediately, Helga joined the Norwegian cabinet (with its more congenial gender politics) and was not able to give time to organising political scientists.

Thus for the next six years I acted as convener for a group whose survival was often on a knife edge. The costs of organisation were quite high, the use of email was still fairly limited, departmental support was difficult to obtain. Hence the active and continued encouragement and support from the ECPR Central Services was vital both to my morale and our survival. The first step was the organisational architecture. We set up a newsletter, a register of women political scientists and, eventually, a series of surveys of the profession that included information on women. Somehow, and often on the basis of a proposal drafted at the very last minute, workshops on some aspect of gender and politics were run at most of the succeeding joint sessions. During the 90s different women stepped up to the plate. Joyce Outshoorn, Gun Hedlund, Celia Valiente, Beatrice Halsaa became conveners, Monique Leijinaar and Pippa Norris devised surveys of the profession that were administered by Central Services and most joint sessions included workshops on gender. Membership grew as did the corpus of publications, research projects and seminars. But the group ran out of steam at the end of the 1990s when it was difficult to find anyone willing to take it on and give it priority.

Fearing that we might be disbanded, a meeting was held in Madrid in 1999 at which emergency measures were adopted. The emergency measure was Judith Squires whose commitment, energy and talent had already been demonstrated in the PSA Women and Politics Group. Things got better. The group’s fortunes benefited especially from the growth of interest in the study of gender and politics as its importance was repeatedly demonstrated in research and in a world wide growth of women’s activism. The big organisational changes in the ECPR, especially the inauguration of the general conference, offered new opportunities. The general conference provided for the first time a forum in which the whole European political science profession could come together. The format was hospitable to different kinds of research presentation and much larger numbers of participants than were at either the joint or research sessions. For the first time there was a place to display the full range of research on gender and politics. By the end of Judith Squires’ term the standing group was well established, widely supported and a force to be reckoned with. Conference sessions led to workshops and research sessions, research grant applications, major publications, special issues of journals and eventually to the Belfast conference.


Joni Lovenduski”