New opportunity: Studentship in collaboration with the University of Leeds

We are proud to announce that we will be partnering with the University of Leeds and Dr Laura Considine on an ESRC-funded PhD examining the impact of an increasing focus on gender in nuclear weapons policy making

International institutions, states and civil society have increasingly asserted the importance of gender for nuclear weapons and promoted gender-mainstreaming in advocacy and policymaking, but no academic research to date has examined the effects of this and asked what the goals of these initiatives are and what impact, if any, such initiatives have had. Gender approaches vary greatly, from those that focus on mentoring women (e.g. the twitter hashtag #nucleargirlposse), to feminist challenges to nuclear violence (with the slogan `disarm the patriarchy`), with sometimes conflicting goals and methods. Policy initiatives also often equate gender with women and focus on representation. This PhD project will address the research question: how has gender been incorporated into the field of nuclear weapons policymaking, and with what outcomes? The project will involve extensive engagement in nuclear policy, developing and sharing research with states, international institutions and civil society.

The award will begin in October 2021. Funding will include tuition fees and a maintenance grant (15,609 GBP p.a. for 21/22 for full-time students) plus an additional ESRC Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) as well as financial support for travel to London to work with BASIC, and to attend international nuclear weapons policy events as part of the BASIC team.

Nuclear weapons have been traditionally studied in International Relations (IR) as gender neutral but are deeply gendered. It is a world in which women are ‘grossly underrepresented’ (WIIS 2020) and gendered ideas of masculinity and power structure thinking and policymaking (Cohn 1982). 

While activists (such as the WILPF) have incorporated gender at the core of their work for many decades and Cold War feminist security studies highlighted the gendered nature of nuclear discourse, there has been little post-Cold War academic work on the topic. Meanwhile, gender has become increasingly common in state and policymaker discourse – but for what purpose and with what effect? This project will conduct sustained research on how gender has been incorporated into the field of nuclear weapons policymaking and will examine what impact this has had. The project will combine work across disciplines including Feminist Theory, Gender Studies and Cultural Anthropology to advance knowledge on a topic traditionally understood in IR as a non-gendered realm.

The PhD will combine academic research and training with policy-relevant work and training with the project partner BASIC. The collaboration takes the form of sustained regular contact, combining in-person visits and remote working with weekly online meetings. The student will have hands-on experience as part of the BASIC team travelling to policy forums. The PhD will provide professional development training in policy writing, working through practitioner networks, organising and managing policy events. The student will contribute to BASIC’s programmes by developing and disseminating two BASIC policy briefs.

The post is open to all (both UK and international) on both a full and part time basis. 

Click here for more details on how to apply. 


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