Interrogating the Language of Diversity in Academe: Mothering and Parenting in View

Maki Motapanyane, Kit Dobson

Abstract


In this article, we are interested in the ways in which one of the major obstacles to maternal empowerment and gender equity in academe - hetero-patriarchal sexism - is manifested through language. The official language of an institution holds within it the underlying logic of that same organization, and the official language and rhetoric of academe tend to be very revealing. In much of North America, the ideological blueprint underlying academic discourse on curriculum, hiring, and promotion, has been Eurocentric, male-centred, and heterosexist. Given the origins and genealogies of universities, none of these things should come as a surprise; it is their persistence, however, that we seek to trouble in this article. How do such structures of normativity continue to manifest themselves today? How have attempts to reroute, rewrite, and undermine normativity been contained or subsumed by academic institutions? By reading questions of racialization and gendering to inquire into hiring practices, spousal appointment policies, and teaching evaluation policies, we look to the broad politics of academic institutions in order to suggest that there remains much work to be done to dismantle hetero-patriarchal sexism in academe.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.