Gender Equality, Reactions, and Backlash: Approaches, Contestation, and Alternatives

Gender Equality is an overarching and long-term development goal of many international, national, and local organizations. While many strides have been made in the last century toward a more gender equal society, gender equality advocates, policymakers, and organizations have faced backlash in their attempts.
The spaces where gendered relations are negotiated are manifold, ranging from bathrooms to war zones. Both structural obstacles as well as active backlash stand in the way of achieving gender equality. In order to continue to work towards a gender equal society, those that oppose gender equality efforts, their tactics and motivations must be better understood.
This class will explore a variety of efforts towards gender equality as well as cases where they were met with “backlash” and opposition. Students will learn to identify equality strategies, tactics and narratives used by advocates for gender equality as well opposition actors, and motivations of the various stakeholders involved. Additionally students will interrogate the concept of “backlash” and analyze its usage and utility in the existing literature. Through the use of case studies on gender equality efforts and opposition to it, students will develop informed suggestions for strategies to advance gender equality and how to avoid or combat adversary reactions.
At the beginning of the semester, students will choose a week/theme that they will lead a class discussion on. Each week 1-3 students (depending on class size) will work together to present a critical analysis of the required readings for the week they chose, and lead an in-class discussion about the week’s theme. Students may use powerpoint, conceptual maps, or other means to present the main findings of each reading and the overall theme of the week. Students should bring in outside material, videos, images, other media to further illustrate the theme of the week.
Final Examination: Students (as a small group) will create and participate in a poster session. Groups of 2-3 students will choose an event or theme focused around gender equality or resistance/opposition to gender equality as a case study. Students will identify actors, tactics and narratives used by actors, and possible motivations of various stakeholders involved in the case. Poster sessions will be held in two groups, so students should be prepared to answer questions from their peers about their case study, as group 1 will view group 2’s posters and vice versa.

Mittwoch, 12.15-13.45
Bernoullistrasse 14/16, Seminarraum 02.004









Politikwissenschaft, Gender Studies


Universitäre Hochschulen (UH)