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Equality building in Europe: praxis, paradoxes, and the transformative potential of gender+ training

Enderstein, Athena-Maria


Athena-Maria Enderstein


Suzanne Clisby

Rachel Alsop

Mark, 1949 Johnson


The last six decades have seen measurable progress in equality policies and projects in Europe, but as existing research demonstrates, this work is characterised by paradoxes and faces significant opposition in the current sociopolitical environment. Specific investigation of the praxis of equalities work is required to adequately respond to these challenges, which I undertake in this mixed methods study on gender+ training. I present findings from 31 in-depth interviews and 208 questionnaire responses from gender trainers working in Europe. I outline the genealogy, architecture, and political economy of gender expertise in this region; and I mobilize a conceptual lexicon based on social complexity theory and gender knowledge as an analytical device to propose an original model of knowledge circulation through gender training.

I map the profiles and professional trajectories of the trainers, highlighting the relevance of the intersectional and gendered subjectivities of equality workers and the effects of epistemic hierarchies in the circulation of feminist and gender knowledges. This reveals how emancipatory and social justice oriented ethics allow trainers to navigate the paradoxes inherent in their work, and the centrality of reflexivity in this process. I detail the interrelation of theory and practice in training through feminist epistemologies, non-formal methodologies, and threshold concepts in equality promotion. This elucidates the dimensions of effective learning and the collective nature of knowledge generation and circulation. It also exposes multi-level resistances to equality initiatives and the counterstrategies that trainers employ to address these. The trainers emphasise infrastructure and exchange as next steps for gender training within the constellation of equality projects in Europe, illuminating a productive ideal/real interplay in incremental change processes.

Overall, this study offers strategies to facilitate the transformative potential of gender training and tackle opposition, insight into dynamics of knowledge circulation, and defines possible future directions in equality building.


Enderstein, A. (2019). Equality building in Europe: praxis, paradoxes, and the transformative potential of gender+ training. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Gender studies
Public URL
Additional Information School of Education and Social Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Jul 1, 2019


Thesis (2.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 Enderstein, Athena-Maria. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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