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The 4th International Conference on Gender Studies

18th January 2020

The 4th International Conference on Gender Studies attracted scholars from Canada, China, UK, Germany, USA, Israel, India, South Africa and Switzerland. The participants debated issues such as gender and education, gender and social media, LGBTIQ issues, gender and literature and gender and patriarchy.

As with previous years, the conference was held in January (this time the 19th) and it featured a full day of presentations and discussions on the gender politics, discrimination and the way forward. Some very original research has been presented and some important issues have been raised.

For example, Natalie Quinn Walker from Wolverhampton University debated the position of male domestic abuse victims and the patriarchal discrimination they face. As all feminists know, in a patriarchal society both men and women face expectations and thus men are expected to be strong and not show emotions whilst women are expected to be caregivers and caring. As soon as someone does not fit into this role, problems emerge and in this case, the problem emerged with healthcare professionals who do not always know how to handle male domestic abuse victims and provide them adequate support.

Other participants raised other interesting issues such as drag queen performance, or the abortion support network and its inclusive work in providing services to both cis and trans individuals.

The conference was covered in live social media coverage, which can be found on our social media accounts. The call for the 5th conference on Gender Studies (January 2021) will be released soon.

Thank you for reading.

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#Women in the UK #Advertising: Project Findings

I recently completed an analysis of my British Academy funded project on women in advertising. The project was entitled ‘Blokeification as a social issue? The case study of women in the UK’s advertising industry’ and it was funded under the small grants scheme SRG18R1\181033.

In this project, I continued with my research on women in organizations. Previously, I started a research on women in journalism, which has shown there are some debates on whether women who succeed in journalism can only do so if they start communicating and acting like men, and thus become biological female who acts like a man (Acker, 1990) or if they become very blokish (Topić, 2018). I have, therefore run interviews with women in journalism and advertising to try to explore views and the position of women in these two industries to understand whether women need to become blokish to succeed. The advertising industry came as a natural choice for comparison due to academic literature warning about sexism in the industry, as well as public outbursts of sexism and misogyny by some senior men from the advertising industry. For example, in 2016, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi had to resign after causing fury for accusing women to be inert rather than discriminated in the advertising industry (see here ), however, this outburst has clearly signalled that the decisions in the adland are in the hands of old men versed in their ways and views of women.

I, therefore, interviewed a total of 41 women from London, Leeds, Wakefield, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Rickmansworth and Reading from the advertising industry. In addition, one woman from Cardiff, one from Belfast and one from Edinburgh were also interviewed. The work experience of participants ranges from one month to 34 years in the industry, with the majority of interviewed women having between one and five years of experience and 11-20 years of experience. The interviewed women were British, Bulgarian, Cypriot, German, Australian, Ukrainian, Italian, Canadian, French and Dutch, however, British women were predominantly recruited.

The project was divided to three key areas of inquiry, the office culture (exploring issues such as banter, social relationships at work, office conversations, dress code, exclusion from business decisions, office environment and promotions), general views of women and their position in the industry (exploring issues such as equality in promotions, views on their position in the industry, disapproval in the organizational environment, sexism and the position of working mothers), the north-south divide which emerged after 10th interview, and the leadership differences (exploring issues such as leadership styles of male and female managers, role models, own leadership preferences and self-assessment, and early socialisation experiences and its link with leadership).

The results show issues across all explored issues, such as banter and sexism in advertising offices, as well as difficulties in obtaining promotions, which particularly hits mothers but also others. Women of all ages and career stages report a variety of issues they experience in their daily work lives. The difference also appeared in experiences between women from the north and the south, where northern women reported less discrimination and better career opportunities as opposed to women in London who are much less satisfied with their position in the industry, which they often do not see as female-friendly. The full summary of results can be downloaded from this link.

I will also release findings from my journalism project during December 2019.

Thank you for reading.


Acker, J. (1990).Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizatons. Gender & Society 4(2), 139-158.

Topić, M. (2018). Not bloke-ified enough? Women journalists, supermarket industry and the debate on sugar in the British press (2010-2015). The Newspaper Research Journal 39(4), 433–442.


Topic, M (2019) ‘Bloke-ification as a social issue? The case study of women in the UK’s advertising industry’ The Key Findings from the British Academy-funded Project. Project Report. Leeds Business School. Retrieved from

Dr Martina Topić is a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations in Leeds Business School and a founder of the Centre for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities. She is also a project lead for EUPRERA Women in PR project, British Academy project Women in Advertising and Leeds Beckett funded Women in Journalism project. You can find out more about her work at her personal website or at the Leeds Beckett website .

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3rd International Conference on Gender Studies

27th January 2019

Venue: Queens hotel

Leeds, United Kingdom


It has become quite common to use the term gender for sex, albeit this is incorrect. The infants are assigned male or female sex, while gender is more complicated because it encompasses not just biological sex but also personal sense of being male, female, both or neither actually. Self-perception of gender then affects gender representation, or how one presents themselves (e.g. the way they behave, dress, talk, etc.).

The incorrect use of gender is particularly prominent in Western societies where it became some sort of PC talk, and not many question this incorrect use of the term gender. Nevertheless, all recent research on gender and women studies demonstrates that patriarchy is alive and well, and that both men and women suffer from patriarchal perceptions of expected roles. For example, women still face difficulties in equality of opportunities for all jobs, and when equality is achieved and they enter a certain industry; they face difficulties in being promoted to managerial positions (glass ceiling). On the other hand, men face difficulties in embracing roles traditionally seen as feminine such as staying at home with children or applying for paternal leaves, which are still approved more to women than men.

When it comes to gender perceptions the situation becomes even more complicated because if one refuses to identify with sex assigned at birth and chooses to express gender differently, patriarchy kicks in even stronger and these individuals face not just discrimination in access to employment but also public mocking and in some countries even assaults. It is stating the obvious to say that many countries in the world still ban homosexuality and that LGBT individuals and couples are not just discriminated but also targets of public campaigns to ban them ever having the same rights as heterosexual couples such as marriage and adopting children (before they even asked for these rights), assaults, threats and intimidation, etc.

The question we can ask is how far have we got in achieving not just gender equality (for vast amount of research testifies we have indeed not got far albeit lots of progress has been made), but how far have we got in achieving understanding of gender? What kind of culture needs to be created to embrace diversity beyond positive laws (that exist only in some countries), but a true diversity where nobody will think they should have the right to question someone’s self-perception and self-expression, and a culture where all sexes and genders will be equal?

These and other topics were debated at the conference. The selection of photos is available at our social media profiles.