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Paradoxical spaces of feminist resistance: Mapping the margin to the masculinist innovation discourse

Various studies indicate that men and certain masculinities are ascribed a normative role in innovation policies and innovation networks. This article aims to analyse which feminist approaches have been used in order to articulate and perform resistance to the hegemonic "masculinist" discourses on innovation, applying the concept of paradoxical space coined by Rose.

The paper specifically focuses on Swedish gender and innovation research and development (R&D) projects, as Sweden has been depicted as progressive in the theoretical and practical development of this field.

The paper analyses feminist approaches used in the "margin to the mainstream" of innovation R&D. The analysis is conducted on research and evaluation – where the authors have been involved as "outsiders within". The empirical material is gathered through literature searches and interviews.

The paper concludes that three approaches to feminist resistance, outlined by Rose, are used in the analysed material: movements between the centre and margin; reaching beyond representation and definition, and paradoxical spaces used as separatism. A fourth approach – using paradoxical space for recognising differences in terms of, for example, "race", class and sexuality – is mainly lacking in the material, except in a few cases. The theoretical contribution lies in clarifying and delineating the occurrence of different approaches to the application of a gender perspective on innovation R&D, and in highlighting the implication for gendered innovation discourses in policy, research and practice.

Implications based on the analysis include the need for applying different approaches to feminist resistance against the masculinist central discourse on innovation, since different approaches are able to perform resistance against the different aspects of the masculinist discourses. The findings indicate that policy support and specific calls in the field of gender and innovation are necessary for the development of this field. Further, policy support should enable various approaches to feminist resistance.

The article contributes by providing an overview of programs, projects and studies concerning gender and innovation R&D in Sweden – thus delineating the forefront of the scientific and practical field of gender and innovation. It also links feminist theories to practical efforts, identifying different approaches to feminist resistance towards a masculinist central discourse on innovation.

Pettersson, Katarina & Lindberg, Malin (2013) Paradoxical spaces of feminist resistance: Mapping the margin to the masculinist innovation discourse

DOI: 10.1108/IJGE-09-2012-0039