Building on work that Gemma Carey and myself have previously done on the role for feminist theory in public policy, for this special issue we had the great privilege to work with Eva Cox on a special issue of the Australian Journal of Public Administration. Titled gender, power and use of evidence in policy, we sought to bring a gender analysis and/or feminist lens to a diverse range of policy and public administration literature, ‘slanting’ how we perceive and understand them.
In 2015, Gemma and I curated an online special issue for the Australian Journal of Public Administration in which we surveyed research published in the journal archive relating to issues of gender and feminism. We found that two major silences exist in public administration concerning gender. The first is the place of women and gender equity within public service workforces. The second silence is the role that feminist theories could play in tackling contemporary public management challenges. We argued that there are particular contributions that feminist theories could make in relation to topics such as collaboration, boundary-spanning and skill requirements for future public sector workers. From this work, we conceived a special issue dedicated to addressing these silences.
In 2016 we put out a call for papers to address this space. We challenged authors to not just consider gender in their work but also adopt and explore how a feminist approach might enhance work in their various domains of policy work. While feminist policy is not a new idea, we believe this collection provides a much-needed foray into the practical application of feminism across a breadth of policy work. Reflecting a parallel process, we took a feminist approach to putting together this special issue. Rather than the traditional blind peer review process, all three editors reviewed each paper multiple times – working with authors to craft their research. The aim of this was to usurp the traditional authoritarian review process with a more constructive and collaborative practice. In doing so, we provided a robust peer-review process that paralleled the theoretical approaches reflective in the work included in this special issue.
The special issue includes any array of great papers including:
- The Changing Politics of Feminist Academics by Eva Cox
- Applying a Gendered Lens to the Stay and Defend or Leave Early Approach to Bushfire Safety by Benjamin Reynolds and Meagan Tyler
- Feminising Politics to Close the Evidence‐Policy Gap: The Case of Social Policy in Scotland by Paul Cairney and Kirstein Rummery
- Funny Evidence: Female Comics are the New Policy Entrepreneurs by Chris Pepin-Neff and Kristin Caporale
- Power, Process, Plumbing: Big G and Small g Gender in Victoria’s Family Violence Policy Subsystem by Sophie Yates
- Gender in the Australian Public Service: Doing, Undoing, Redoing or Done? by Sue Williamson and Linda Colley
Ultimately we recognise that this is a long-term project. Like policy itself, change is often frustrating incremental when it comes to both the way we think about women and more broadly altering the paradigms in which we operate.