The program consists of two short talks, two commentaries, and a discussion where everyone is welcome to join. Talks are given by Scott Taylor and Janne Tienari, with comments by Charlotta Niemistö and Jeff Hearn. Scott is Reader at the University of Birmingham in the UK, Janne is Professor at Aalto University School of Business, Charlotta is post-doctoral researcher at Hanken School of Economics, and Jeff is Professor at Örebro University in Sweden.
Scott and Janne each address three questions: What is feminism? What does it mean for a man to be feminist? What broader implications does men’s relationship to feminism have today? Scott argues that men cannot be, and should not try or claim to be, feminists – but that it is morally right for men to take feminist action at work, and to support feminism as an ethical project. Janne, in turn, argues that feminism is for everybody and that men are needed in the struggle against sexism.
The seminar is based on the conviction that different forms of feminist action and theory are as timely today as they ever were in the last hundred years. Despite the ubiquitous presence of gender and diversity in organizational and political discourses, persistent sex-based inequalities and gendered discriminations remain. Yet, feminist questioning and responses to this continuing situation are not the same as in earlier iterations of feminist theory and activism.
Scholars and activists have made compelling arguments to suggest that feminism today is being organized differently, with new and intriguing implications for social action in and around organizations. Feminism today is characterized by widespread grassroots activism, engagement with global politics, the achievement of feminist aims through intersectionality, and a renewed emphasis on redistribution of resources and opportunities. It is distinct through being simultaneously more present and less visible than before. At the same time, feminism has developed as a divisive and controversial term, especially for those seeking a more intersectionally just and inclusive social or economic world.
Contemporary feminism also continues to be concerned with inclusion and exclusion where men are concerned. Long-established questions such as ‘can/should a man be (a) feminist?’ are being reconsidered alongside newer issues, such as whether cis men should be included in feminist organizations and activism, and whether single-sex feminist organizations should be maintained. This seminar may not provide clear answers to complex questions such as these, but it will provide food for thought and discussion.