28 February 2010

Scottish women in power...

For those of you who don't indulge in an evangelical Sabbath and are in want of reading material, here is an interesting study on the 'Impact of Women Ministers in Post-Devolution Scotland 1999 - 2007'. Published by the Active Learning Centre, the research is based on qualitative data gathered in semi-structured interviews with eight former female Scottish ministers about their experiences of gender during their tenure. This group apparently included some familiar faces still enthroned on Holyrood's red benches, including Wendy Alexander and Cathy Jamieson. A very select group of insiders then - with significant claims to be listened to. For them, the institutions of Scottish politics are lived through personal experience - rather than the distant reflection which reading a newspaper enforces or speculating outside St Andrew's House about what is going on in its corridors and chambers. I've not had the chance to make a careful journey through the document's pages, nor to interrogate its claims. That said, gender in Scotland remains improbably under-researched and is marked by the absence of critical reflection on its place in our public and private lives. Scottish accounts of gender norms are invariably partial, congealed into unedifying simplicities which are disposed to ignore the vagaries of class and geographic divisions in what David McCrone once excellently described as Scotland's organisation around its "city-states". Anything which contributes to a more sagacious, more honest reflection of the continuing structuring role of gender in our public life is a welcome contribution. I for one am heartily tired of hearing rooms of men insist that we're all post-gender now.

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