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Women or Leaders? Practices of Narrating the United Nations as a Gendered Institution

Bode, Ingvild (2019) Women or Leaders? Practices of Narrating the United Nations as a Gendered Institution. International Studies Review, 22 (3). pp. 347-369. ISSN 1521-9488. (doi:10.1093/isr/viz004) (KAR id:71029)


The United Nations has been an important forum for promoting women’s rights, but women are still underrepresented at the most senior levels of its leadership. This points to persistent obstacles in reaching gender parity at the UN, despite the organization’s overt commitment to this objective. Situated in feminist institutionalist insights, I argue that the institutionalization of gender inequality through practices in the UN as a gendered institution can account for continued barriers to women leadership. This makes contributions to feminist institutionalist literature in International Relations by taking it to the individual, micro level. Practices sustain, inform, and manifest themselves in four interconnected, gendered processes that reinforce gendered divisions of subordination: positional divides, symbols and imagery, everyday interactions, and individual identity (based on Acker 1990, 146-7; Scott 1986). These processes and their practices become accessible through the narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with senior women leaders at the UN. By recognizing their narratives as valid forms of insight into the study of the UN, this approach recognizes women leaders’ agency as opposed to portraying them as numbers only.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/isr/viz004
Uncontrolled keywords: feminist institutionalism; United Nations (UN); practices; women; gender; narratives; leadership
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: [37325] UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Ingvild Bode
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2018 14:07 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 15:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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