Academics and scholars must be mindful about using research done by only straight, white men, according to two scientists who argued that it oppresses diverse voices and bolsters the status of already privileged and established white male scholars.
Geographers Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne argued in a recent paper that doing so also perpetuates what they call “white heteromasculinism,” which they defined as a “system of oppression” that benefits only those who are “white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered.” (Cisgendered describes people whose gender identity matches their birth sex.)
Mott, a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Cockayne, who teaches at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, argued that scholars or researchers disproportionately cite the work of white men, thereby unfairly adding credence to the body of knowledge they offer while ignoring the voices of other groups, like women and black male academics. Although citation seems like a mundane practice, the feminist professors argue that citing someone’s work has implications on his or her ability to be hired, get promoted and obtain tenured status, among others.
When citations are predominantly those of the work of white, straight males, “this means that the views and knowledge that are represented do not reflect the experience of people from other backgrounds,” she told Campus Reform. “When scholars continue to cite only white men on a given topic, they ignore the broader diversity of voices and researchers that are also doing important work on that topic.”
In their 22-page paper, “Citation matters: mobilizing the politics of citation toward a practice of ‘conscientious engagement,'” they explained that their work was motivated by “shared feelings of discomfort, frustration, and anger” over actions of fellow scholars and publication practices.
The authors offer what they describe as practical strategies for fellow geographers who work in a largely male-dominated discipline.
One of them: Scholars should read through their work and count all the citations before submitting their work for publication, and see how many people of diverse backgrounds — women, people of color, early-career scholars, graduate students and non-academics — are cited.
Editors and reviewers also can act as watchdogs of sort by scrutinizing a scholar’s body of citation, they argued.
Mott and Cockayne both describe themselves as feminists and have done research related to feminism.
And because of articles like the one above, it is possible to create and push memes such as the following: