Gender and feminist approaches in public administration

One of the really great things about the Australian Journal of Public Administration is the fantastic back catalogue of pieces that it has.  Issues date back to 1936 and all are available online.  The publishers of the journal have been very supportive towards the idea of virtual issues and the wonderful Gemma Carey (ANU, Power to Persuade) and I hit upon the idea of curating a special issue of the AJPA from its historical content that focused on gender and public administration.

So we found ourselves trawling the back issues of the AJPA  to explore the ways in which gender has (or more accurately has not) been spoken about.  We found a worryingly small number of papers that dealt with issues of gender.  To some extent this might be more understandable and acceptable through the 1940s and 1950s, but we also found a significant gap even in more recent years.  Given the numbers of women employed within the Australian Public Service this omission is even more stark.

In the editorial we go on to outline the sorts of things that we believe discussion of gender and feminist perspectives might add.  We argue, for example, that such a lens could add significant amounts to discussions concerning boundary work, change and workforce capacity.  If you are interested in reading the special issue you can find it here.

As a last addition to this post, at the recent National Institute of Public Administration Australia conference the winner of the Sam Richardson Award was announced.  This award is presented annually to the author of the most influential article published in the AJPA.  This year’s winner was rather presciently Leadership in Local Government: ‘No Girls Allowed’ by Jacquie Hutchinson, Elizabeth Walker and Fiona Haslam McKenzie.  I can highly recommend it as a good read!

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