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Reflections on Gender, Politics and the lifecycle

by on November 19, 2013

As part of Parliament Week the Department of Politics at Birkbeck hosted a seminar on Gender, Politics and the Life Cycle

Dr Elizabeth Evans (Bristol) gave an overview of her research on contemporary feminism to reflect on the politics of younger women.  She highlighted issues associated with the definition of ‘young’ while outlining the range of activism and campaigning undertaken by young women.  From my perspective this provided further opportunity to reflect on the potential politicisation of age in various guises, including in ways that go beyond our current focus in researching age at work.  For example we have blogged from time to time about the campaign for representation of older women in the media, but Elizabeth also highlighted younger womens’ involvement in the ‘no more page three’ campaign which highlights different issues of the representation of women (although too little material coverage is a feature of both!)

Dr Emma Crewe (SOAS) discussed her fascinating anthropological research on the work of politicians both in parliament and back in their constituencies.  Commenting that the age range of MPs was relatively narrow in any case, Emma reviewed age and gender intersections in terms of understandings of expertise and representation.  Her discussions on the work of constituency surgeries were particularly interesting, and highlighted issues related to the identity work of women MPs in particular.

Finally within the seminar, Dr Rosie Campbell and Professor Joni Lovenduski (Birkbeck) outlined their initial work on the political attitudes and preferences of older women.  Here is there were a number of methodological issues that impact the availability of data used in the polls we regularly see in the press.  For example Rosie explained that women are more likely than men to state they are undecided in a poll, data which is often removed from the analysis, whilst the trend for gathering poll data online seems to impact the participation of older age groups.

All in all a very interesting session with plenty to reflect on for our own research on age at work.  Many thanks to the Department of Politics for organising.

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