In June 2018, I’m going to be exhibiting a graphic essay entitled My Brilliant Career? An Investigation at the Sociological Review conference Undisciplining: Conversations from the Edge. My Brilliant Career? is an experiment with a more performative mode of presenting research findings, in this case those of my current institutional, interdisciplinary research project Gender(s) At Work (Carruthers Thomas 2016-2018). The project investigates gendered experiences of work and career in higher education (HE) and considers the implications for gender-neutral, linear career metaphors (trajectory, pipeline, ladder).
The aim of Undisciplining is to “challenge the presumed mainstream of sociological thought, its geographical assumptions and disciplinary hierarchies”. My Brilliant Career?will takes its place alongside other visual displays and a programme of panels, workshops and films in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead. It’s a really exciting prospect – if somewhat nerve-wracking as I am still a novice at graphic social science.
This blog tracks my (slow and laborious) progress as I discover the challenges and delights of analysing textual data through visual means and learn to structure content across frames.
The uberplan below shows the start of planning out content across 4 x A2 panels, including the way each panel links to the next. I label each panel and the four frames within each, to help me keep track once I get into drawing individual sections.
I recently attended a friend’s wedding ceremony held in the Council Chamber of Camden Town Hall in London. Milling about as official photos were taken, I noticed a black and white print hanging on the wall, featuring the Council members of 1901. Given that this was pre-suffragettes, equal opps and @everydaysexism, it’s hardly unsurprising that every single one was male (and White).
Far more surprising – shocking actually – are the contemporary instances of all male ‘representative’ gatherings making significant decisions on issues impacting women. The Donald reinstating the Mexico City Policy removing US funding to any overseas organisation that offers abortions, witnessed by his team of (male, white) close advisors (23 January 2017). The Northern Powerhouse Conference leaflet which featured precisely 0 female keynotes (not to mention the programme which featured 13 female speakers out of a total of 98). Extreme examples of male dominated fora? Or public examples of a stubbornly enduring commonplace?
Time is ticking (slowly) away as we wait for the outcome of the university’s application for an Athena SWAN (gender equality Charter Mark) award, submitted in November 2016. Anyone who has been involved in putting together an Athena SWAN application will know a) how much work is involved and b) that it’s dangerous or foolish to predict the outcome. Since November I’ve progressed in a reasonably linear fashion through five post-application/pre-outcome stages. These are: Stage One: Utter Relief; Stage Two: Total Nonchalance; Stage Three: Niggling Thoughts; Stage Four: Studied Indifference. Now I’ve reached Stage Five: Counting the Days. I may be the only person at BCU experiencing the full-flavours of these five Stages; my colleagues enquire solicitously about Athena SWAN when we pass in the corridor but no doubt forget all about it when I’m out of sight. Meanwhile,Stage Six: Email Hypervigilance, awaits…