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Events and workshops

UIC regularly ran events such as workshops, culminating in a final project conference in April 2017, to disseminate our research and share ideas with the academic community and wider research users.

Our workshops and events have including workshops on 'Agenda setting', 'New Institutions', 'Gender and Institutions in Bachelet's Chile', 'Experiences of analysing institutional change' and a two day workshop on 'Informal Institutions'.

In 2016, we held a two day workshop at Elizabeth Gaskell House in Manchester entitled 'Rethinking Gender, Institutions and Change'.

In 2017 we held a final international conference on 3rd and 4th April. For further details please see our conference website.

Gender and Institutional Change - Setting the Agenda - 11 January 2013

11 January 2013

On January 11 the UIC team held its first workshop to explain and explore the aims of the Understanding Institutional Change project. The research team's current members met with with University of Manchester colleagues, the advisory board and other 'critical friends' to present and discuss initial research plans. The workshop sessions discussed the overall aims of the UIC project, the research strands that are exploring 'new' institutions and work that will examine the Police and Crime Commissioners and gender equality policies in Higher Education.

There was a lively and wide-ranging discussion throughout the day focusing on the conceptual tools that could be used by the UIC project. Major discussion points emerged including definitions of institutions, gender, and how change might be gendered, and the impacts of these definitions of the research agenda.

'Gendering' New Institutions - 7-8 November 2013

7-8 November 2013, Chancellors Conference Centre

On the 7 and 8 of November the UIC project held its first international workshop with the participants coming from all over the UK, Canada, South Africa, USA and Europe. The two day gathering on ‘Gendering New Institutions’ focused on a number of themes specifically related to work packages one and two of the project and was attended by the UIC team members, the advisory board and a number of interdisciplinary speakers including lawyers experienced in the area of institutional change and redesign in one form or another. 

The first panel focused on institutional creation and design at times of transformation. The session featured empirical research on post-conflict areas, specifically Northern Ireland, South Africa and Bosnia-Herzegovina and constitution building in Africa. The roles of female actors within these processes were discussed with lively contributions from commentators and participants who were present during these transitions. This was followed by a round table discussion on gendering institutional design, which was comprised of panellists who had first-hand experience in negotiations (such as devolution in Scotland, the transition in South Africa and the creation of the ICC) as gendered actors. The session facilitated those who played a part in negotiation processes to tell their own (captivating) stories and reflect on their personal experiences. It not only offered a different layer to the empirical research of the first panel but also highlighted lessons that could be learned for future negotiations.

Day two began with a panel on the institutionalisation of ‘new’ institutions. The papers in this panel problematized the concept of ‘newness’.  Examining the creation of the constitutional court in South Africa, the ICC and devolution in Scotland, the panellists discussed some of the barriers associated with creating new institutions, particularly the power of the informal and the nested nature of institutions.  Following this, a roundtable discussion addressed methods and the different approaches that can be used when researching new institutions. The speakers recounted their own experiences with different methods and highlighted new ways in which institutions could be researched in the future. The workshop concluded with a roundtable discussion on critical reflections and future agendas.  All in all it was a thought provoking, challenging and often inspiring two days and much was learnt by both the UIC team and invited guests. 


Rachel Johnson and Laura McLeod have written a 'Conversations' piece, for the International Feminist Journal of Politics, based on the discussions with activists at this event:

Gender, Politics and Institutional Change in Bachelet's Chile - 29 April 2014

29 April 2014 - Manchester Museum

The third programme workshop on Gender, Politics and Institutional Change in Bachelet’s Chile took place in Manchester Museum on April 29.

At a very exciting time, only six weeks into Michelle Bachelet’s second term of office, twenty five participants from the UK, Canada, USA and Chile gathered to assess her first presidency and analyse the prospects for reform in her second presidency.

The workshop was deliberately interdisciplinary bringing together a range of political scientists, social policy and development scholars who both had in-depth knowledge of the Chilean case and expertise in gender politics and institutionalism. 


In the first panel, Peter Siavelis (Wake Forrest University) and Marcela Rios (UNDP) provided overviews of politics in Chile today.

This was followed by a panel on gender and executive which included papers by Susan Franceschet (University of Calgary) on cabinet formation and by Gwynn Thomas (SUNY Buffalo) on the Chilean presidency.

The third panel focused on policy outcomes with papers by Silke Staab (UN Women) on gender egalitarian policy change in Bachelet’s social protection agenda, Carmen Sepulveda (UCL) on emergency contraception and the Constitutional Tribunal, and Jasmine Gideon (Birkbeck College, London) on the health sector under Bachelet.

Karen Beckwith (Case Western), Maxine Molyneux (UCL) and Sarah Childs (Bristol) also provided commentaries on the papers and discussion.

Thanks to all those who contributed to making the day such a stimulating and thought-provoking one for all concerned.

Gender and Informal Institutions workshop - 10-11 September 2015

10-11 September 2015 - The Midland Hotel, Manchester

The UIC programme hosted its fourth workshop, on Informal Institutions, on the 10th and 11th of September. The thirty participants, coming from the UK, North America and Europe, met in the elegant surroundings of the Midland Hotel in central Manchester to make presentations on ongoing joint and individual research projects, as well as to think collectively and critically on the challenges of undertaking research on informal institutions in three roundtable and three panel sessions.

The workshop began with a roundtable addressing the current state of research on informal institutions, asking what do we know and what are the gaps in our understandings. The four panellists – Louise Chappell (University of New South Wales), Meryl Kenny (University of Edinburgh), Vivien Lowndes (University of Birmingham) and Georgina Waylen (Manchester) – provided an overview of current debates, arguing for particular definitions of and criteria to distinguish formal and informal institutions, and raising questions that were then taken up in the wider discussion. These included: how can organisations and networks be distinguished from institutions? How long do rules or practices have to be in place in order to become ‘an institution’? What is the role of sanctions, enforcement and rewards? What is the role of silences and gaps in institutional analysis? And what is the relationship between informal institutions, networks and informality? The roundtable helped to lay conceptual foundations for the remainder of the workshop’s sessions.

After lunch came a panel on gender and informal institutions in the area of political recruitment. In this panel, Elin Bjarnegard’s important concept of ‘homosocial capital’ emerged as a key theme, with papers given by Elin Bjarnegard (University of Uppsala) and Meryl Kenny, Leah Culhane (Manchester), Tania Verge and Silvia Claveria (Universtat Pompeu Fabra), and Madga Hinojosa (Arizona State University) exploring and explaining the informal roots of the continuing male over-representation and female underrepresentation in politics.

The final session of the day was a roundtable looking at the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal in the UK. The panellists – Rosie Campbell (Birkbeck College), Sarah Childs (University of Bristol), Emma Crewe (University College London), Oonagh Gay (formerly of the House of Commons Library) and Faith Armitage (Manchester) – drew upon ‘insider’ experiences as well as academic debates to address the balance, mixture and gendered effects of formal and informal rules in the old, internal expenses regime and the new, independent regime that was created in the aftermath of the scandal.

The second day kicked off with a lively roundtable addressing empirical and methodological challenges that researchers face in investigating informal institutions. Panellists shared their experiences in the field and drew upon these to share practical tips on data collection and discuss the merits of methods such as ‘rapid ethnography’, as well as to reflect upon wider debates. Louise Chappell and Natalie Galea (University of New South Wales) discussed their fieldwork on building sites. Fiona Mackay (University of Edinburgh) outlined her collaborative research on UN Women. Elin Bjarnegard described some of her interview techniques and tactics when she conducted her PhD fieldwork in Thailand.

The second panel was on informal institutions and executives. Karen Beckwith (Case Western University) presented comparative research she is carrying out with Claire Annesley (University of Sussex) and Susan Franceschet (University of Calgary) on informal rules governing cabinet appointments in Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Claire Annesley’s comparative paper explored the informal rules of ministerial recruitment in the UK and Australia. Susan Franceschet’s paper focused on the organization of Chile’s executive branch, including its informal dimensions, to explore the effects on recruitment of women to executive posts.

The final panel was on Informal Institutions: Policy and Practice. Francesca Gains (Manchester) and Vivien Lowndes presented their on-going research on Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales. Jennifer Piscopo’s (Occidental College) paper discussed informal networks and gender parity in the most recent Mexican election. Georgina Waylen and Ros Southern (Manchester) presented research exploring gender and corruption in the UK parliamentary expenses scandal.

The workshop was capped by a concluding roundtable consisting of Fiona Mackay, Louise Chappell, Shirin Rai (University of Warwick) and Pilar Domingo (Overseas Development Institute). Major themes of the workshop were drawn together and the panellists also addressed what directions and agendas participants could and should take forward.

The papers from the workshop are currently being revised for an edited collection on gender and informal institutions that will be published in 2017.

Gender, Institutions and Change Conference: Feminist Institutionalism after 10 years- 3-4 April 2017

Conference details

Our International Conference was held on 3-4 April 2017 and was the final event of the UIC- Gender project. The overall aims of the conference were to:

  • to take stock of where we are
  • bring together the latest research, empirical or theoretical
  • and to discuss future research agendas for the gendered analysis of institutions, institutional change and feminist institutionalism


Invited speakers included:

  • Elin Bjarnegaard (Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in Development Studies, Uppsala University)
  • Louise Chappell (Professor of Politics, University of New South Wales, Australia)
  • Sarah Childs  (Professor of Politics and Gender, University of Bristol)
  • Susan Franceschet (Professor of Political Science, University of Calgary)
  • Meryl Kenny (Lecturer of Politics, University of Edinburgh)
  • Mona Lena Krook (Associate Professor of Political Science)
  • Vivien Lowndes (Professor of Public Policy, University of Birmingham)
  • Fiona Mackay (Dean and Professor of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh)
  • Mieke Verloo (Professor of Comparative Politics and Inequality Issues, Radboud Universiteit)
  • Laurel Weldon (Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Purdue University Policy Research Institute
  • Shireen Hassim (Professor of Politics, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa)
  • Vivien Lowndes (Professor of Politics, University of Birmingham)
  • Shirin Rai (Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Warwick)

For further details of the programme and to view all the paper abstracts please see our conference website.