The effects of gendering nuclear weapons policy

Funding has been awarded to support new research exploring the impacts of an increasing focus on gender in nuclear weapons policymaking. The project will be supervised by Dr Laura Considine, in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University.

The WRDTP Collaborative Award will enable a PhD student to work in collaboration with the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), an independent think-tank on nuclear security. BASIC have an established programme on Gender, Youth and Diversity, which develops important policy initiatives on this issue, however there is a lack of grounding in social science research as nuclear policymaking has traditionally been studied as non-gendered. This pioneering project aims to address the critical need for in-depth and policy-relevant research outputs.

Ionising radiation caused by nuclear weapons has a greater impact on women and girls. Gendered perceptions of masculinity and power also structure thinking on nuclear weapons and security. Policy initiatives also generally equate gender with women and focus on female representation. Gender approaches also vary greatly, from those that focus on mentoring women using the Twitter hashtag #nucleargirlposse, to feminist challenges to nuclear violence using the slogan ‘disarm the patriarchy’. There can be conflicting goals and methods. Institutions, such as the United Nations are increasingly focusing on gender and promoting gender-mainstreaming in advocacy and policymaking, yet there is no research to date examining the goals of such initiatives or the effects of gendering the nuclear policy space.

Dr Laura Considine commented “I am very excited to work with BASIC on this project. States and international institutions have begun to recognise and incorporate the role of gender in the nuclear policy space, but we don’t know if this is mere window-dressing or is having significant impact on policymaking. This studentship will conduct an in-depth, theoretically grounded examination of this issue, advancing both academic and policy work on this important topic.”

More information on the project and how to apply for the Collaborative Award is available here