1Given growing interest in both diversity, equity and inclusion research and intellectual activism across many disciplines of management and organization studies (MOS), you might think that the feminist frameworks and thinkers who are foundational to our thinking on these topics would be acknowledged in the writing and voluminous text produced on these very issues. Rather, what I have seen and experienced over the years is a combination of ignorance, performative referencing and willful omission. All resulting in an epistemic erasure of feminist work that is foundational to the core concepts that we claim are important and relevant in contemporary MOS scholarship. I have some theories about why we might be seeing these outcomes.
2First, the training doctoral students receive in MOS has become more and more insular and less and less interdisciplinary even though many will claim interdisciplinary approaches are important and welcome in the academy. At least this is the case in the US. The strong enforcement of disciplinary boundaries, quantitative metric-driven legitimacy concerns, and relentless pressure to publish have created scholars that are too narrowly focused on publishing in literally a handful of ‘top’ journals in a narrow field as if their career depends on it… because it does in the current institutional environment we have created. In this grand calculus, feminist research and writing are not valuable despite the contributions it can make to conceptualizing, addressing, and solving complex socio-economic, political, and technological challenges that organizations and leaders face everyday.
3Second, there is an unhealthy dose of performative citing taking place whereby individuals will pepper their texts with some well-known researcher’s work who has used feminist or feminist ideas to support their own argument to claim they are familiar with a whole body of scholarship. This is feminist adjacent work that does not cite original work in the field to expand, challenge or engage with it. This is scholarly neglect and results in the continued marginalization of feminist ideas and scholarship in the MOS field despite claims from many individuals about the importance of feminist work, even in mainstream management journals.
4Finally, perhaps the worst offenders are those who are familiar with feminist work in the areas in which they publish but choose not to cite feminist scholars or scholarship. These are scholars who make no effort to acknowledge feminist work within MOS that has already made the same argument they are making or has provided scaffolding for the argument. This is intentional epistemic violence targeting the work and ideas of feminist MOS scholars by rendering them silent. It is not a form of scholarship, it is a form of hostility – harsh words to reflect upon the personal and professional reality of feminist scholars who find their work and writing ignored in academic circles and texts.
5There will be no solution to these issues until there is a shared understanding among MOS scholars that this is a legitimate problem. And frankly, there is no shared understanding that this is a problem as the status quo benefits many who are in positions of power, decision-making and enjoying the status that comes with being a well-respected scholar. Nonetheless, rather than end on a dismal tone, I offer some signs of hope.
6There are dedicated spaces, communities and journals that welcome feminist work. There are generous mid-career and senior feminist scholars who continue to share their wisdom, time and mentorship with emerging feminist researchers. And there are now opportunities to call out these practices and, in some cases, those who engage in them, across various platforms including social media to raise awareness, engage allies and create a more welcoming intellectual community of academics in the years to come. To this end, I end with a quote from Elora Chowdury and Liz Philipose who suggest that we must now engage in:
fostering a transnational analytic of care: one that does not play into the politics of accommodation; is not defensive, or reactionary, or silencing; and is cognizant of ‘local’ and ‘global’ processes that create condition of vulnerability for women (and men) and form the uneven and asymmetrical places in which dissident, cross-cultural friendships, alliances, and solidarity practices – particularly within the interpersonal realm – are even more urgent.
This title is inspired by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s book, Racism without Racist