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Professor Sylvia Walby OBE

Distinguished Professor, UNESCO Chair of Gender Research

Sylvia Walby

Bowland North

Lancaster University


Lancaster LA1 4YN

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 593442


PhD supervision

Research students are welcome in all areas of my research interests including: gender violence and security; gendered political economy; policies towards equalities; sociology of the EU; and complexity theory.

Research Interests

UNESCO Chair in Gender Research

Sylvia Walby was appointed the founding Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in Gender Research in 2008.  Its objectives are to:

  • facilitate the development of policy-relevant research on gender equality and women's human rights around the world;
  • support and develop international networking to facilitate the exchange of ideas, research and policy developments, especially between the North and South;
  • support research and build capacity on policy-relevant gender equality issues; curriculum development, student training at graduate level; staff exchanges;
  • facilitate exchanges between researchers and policy makers, in the context of UN instruments for promoting women's human rights and the Millennium Development Goals;
  • collaborate with UNESCO in its Gender Equality policy and strategy.

Research Interests

My current research is focused on ‘gender, violence and security’ and on ‘gender and the crisis’; moving between theory and measurement and policy impact.  Funded research projects are organised within the UNESCO Chair in Gender Research Group.  Research activities are clustered into four groups:

  • Social theory;
  • Gender, violence and security;
  • Gender mainstreaming and intersectionality (policy and politics);
  • Gendered political economy

 Social Theory

The conclusions to my research over the previous decade can be found in Globalization and Inequalities, which shows the implications of including gender at the centre of social theory.  Globalization restructures inequalities; but there is a challenge to theorise the intersection of multiple inequalities beyond class.  The book draws on complexity theory to offer a new solution to these dilemmas of intersectionality.  It shows the importance of gendering political economy and of including violence as a fourth institutional domain. It develops the conceptualisation of the gender regime, identifying its variety of forms, especially the distinction between social democratic and neoliberal gender regimes.

Gender Mainstreaming and Intersectionality (policy and politics)

Gender mainstreaming addresses the tension between mainstream governmental policy and the feminist interventions that seek to decrease gender inequalities.

It was the theme of an ESRC funded seminar series, 2003-4, that led to a special issue of Social Politics and of International Feminist Journal of Politics

The comparative quality of gender equality policy in all EU Member States was the subject of Quing, an EU Framework 6 programme, led by Verloo in Vienna, with a team of 50 researchers, of which Walby was PI for Lancaster and led the strand on intersectionality.  This led to the book The Future of Feminism about the robust character of contemporary feminism, to a special issue of Social Politics on the implications of multiple intersecting inequalities for the reform to the architecture of equality policy, and to further articles on intersectionality (e.g. in Sociology).

The conceptualisation and measurement of equality is necessary for the translation of the democratic will into policy: a further series of seminars funded by the ESRC (2005-8) on ‘what is gender equality in a global era’ and projects funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission led to publications that address this issue.

Gendered political economy

I have a long standing research interest in changes in gendered employment and their interconnections to wider systems of political economy and society.  This includes: International Sociological Association RC02 Economy and Society (President 2006-2010); ESRC and EOC projects on gendered pay, gendered productivity and gendered economic growth; GLOW on the knowledge economy; European Parliament work on quotas on Boards of Directors; and, most recently, the financial crisis. GLOW is an international network on Gender Globalization and Work Transformation (GLOW) in US (Gottfried), Japan (Osawa), Germany (Gottschall, Shire) and UK (Walby), on the changes in the regulation of non-standard forms of working, the nature of the knowledge economy, and the theorisation of varieties of capitalism and gender regime, leading to a book and a special issue of Gender Work and Organization

Current Teaching

Undergraduate BA module ‘Violence and society’

MA module ‘Gender and violence’

Professional and public activities

REF 2014, Sociology sub-panel

UK National Commission for UNESCO, non-executive Director, 2011-

OBE for services to equal opportunities and diversity, 2008

UNESCO Chair in Gender Research, 2008-

Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences, 2008-

International Sociological Association, President Research Committee 02 Economy and Society, 2006-2010 and continuing Board member

European Sociological Association, founding President, 1995-7.


Walby, S. (2009) Globalization and Inequalities: Complexity and Contested Modernities London: Sage. http://www.uk.sagepub.com/booksProdDesc.nav?prodId=Book204568

Walby, S. (2007) 'Complexity theory, systems theory and multiple intersecting social inequalities', Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2007, 37, 4, 449-470 (link to on-line paper).

Walby, S. (2004) 'The European Union and gender equality: Emergent varieties of gender regime', Social Politics, 11(1): 4-29.

Walby, S. (2003) 'The myth of the nation-state: Theorizing society and polities in a global era', Sociology, 2003, 37, 1, 531-548. (Debate with Bruce and Voas, 2004).

Walby, S. (2001) 'Against epistemological chasms: the science question in feminism revisited' Signs: A Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 2001, 26, 2, 485-509, (debate with Sandra Harding) (link to on-line paper ).

Walby, S. (2013) editor, special issue, Current Sociology, ‘Violence and Society’ 61(2): 95-264.

Walby, S. (2013) ‘Violence and society: Introduction to an emerging field of sociology’, Current Sociology, 61(2): 95-111. http://csi.sagepub.com/content/61/2/95

Towers, J., Walby, S. (2012) Measuring the impact of cuts in public expenditure on the provision of services to prevent violence against women. Trust for London/Northern Rock Foundation. http://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/VAWG%20Full%20report.pdf

Walby, S., J. Armstrong, S. Strid (2010) Physical and Legal Security and the Criminal Justice System: A Review of Inequalities. Equality and Human Rights Commission, UK. http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/triennial-review/full-report-and-evidence-downloads/research-reports/

Walby, S. (2007) 'Indicators to measure violence against women' UN Expert meeting, http://www.unece.org/stats/documents/ece/ces/ge.30/2007/mtg1/wp.1.e.pdf

'Improving the statistics on violence against women', Statistical Journal of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 22, 4, 193-216, 2005.

Walby, S., J. Allen (2004) Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey Home Office Research Study 276.

Walby, S. (2004) The Cost of Domestic Violence, DTI Women and Equality Unit.

Up-dated in 2009 for the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence

Walby, S. The Cost of Domestic Violence: Up-Dates 2009 here.

Walby, S., A. Myhill (2001) 'Comparing the methodology of the new national surveys of violence against women', British Journal of Criminology, 2001, 41, 3, 502-522.

Walby, S., M. Verloo (2012) co-editors, special issue Social Politics ‘Intersectionality and the equality architecture in Europe’, 19(4): 433-620.

Verloo, M., S. Walby (2012) ‘Introduction: The implications for theory and practice of comparing the treatment of intersectionality in the equality architecture in Europe’, Social Politics, 19(4): 433-445.

Walby, S., J. Armstrong, S. Strid (2012) ‘Intersectionality: Multiple inequalities in social theory’, Sociology, 46(2): 224-240

Walby, S., J. Armstrong, S. Strid (2012) ‘Intersectionality and the quality of the gender equality architecture’, Social Politics, 19(4): 446-481

Walby, S. (2012) ‘Sen and the measurement of justice and capabilities: A problem in theory and practice’, Theory, Culture & Society, 29 (1):99-118.

Walby, S. (2011) The Future of Feminism (Cambridge: Polity). http://politybooks.com/book.asp?ref=9780745647562

Walby, S., J. Armstrong (2011) 'Key indicators of "fairness": Competing frameworks, multiple strands and ten domains - an array of statistics' Social Policy & Society, 10(2): 205-218.

Walby, S., J. Armstrong (2010) ‘Measuring equality: Data and indicators in Britain’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 13 (3): 237-249.

Walby, J. Armstrong, L. Humphries (2008) 'A Review of Equality Statistics'. Equality and Human Rights Commission.

ESRC Seminar (2008) 'What is gender equality in a global age?' here.

Walby, S. (2005) editor, special issue on 'Gender Mainstreaming’, Social Politics, 12(3): 321-452.

Walby, S. (2005) 'Gender mainstreaming: Productive tensions in theory and practice': Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society 2005 12(3):321-343

Walby, S. (2005) editor, special issue, ‘Comparative gender mainstreaming in a global era', International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4): 453-638.

Walby, S. (2005) 'Introduction: Comparative Gender Mainstreaming', International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4): 453-471

Walby, S. (2005) 'Measuring Women’s Progress in a Global Era: Gender transformations and global processes: Situating Beijing + 10', International Social Science Journal, 184: 371-387.

Walby, S. (2002) Feminism in a global eraEconomy and Society, 31(4): 533-557.

Walby, S. (2001) 'From community to coalition: the politics of recognition as the handmaiden of politics of redistribution', Theory, Culture & Society, 18(2-3): 113-35

Walby, S. (June 2013) ‘Finance versus democracy: theorising finance in society’ Work, Employment and Society, 27(3).

Walby, S., J. Armstrong (2012) Gender quotas in management boards.European Parliament FEMM/Women's Rights Committee. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201202/20120216ATT38420/20120216ATT38420EN.pdf

Walby, S. (2011) editor, special issue, ‘The knowledge society’, Gender Work & Organization, 18(1): 1-136.

Walby, S. (2011) ‘Is the knowledge society gendered?’ Gender, Work & Organization, 18(1): 1-29.

Walby, S. (2010) ‘A social science agenda on the financial crisis’, 21st Century Society, 5(1): 19-31.

Walby, S. (2009) ‘Gender in the financial crisis’, Commonwealth Finance Ministers Reference Report 2009, 75-78.

Walby, S. (2009) ‘Gender and the financial crisis’ http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/doc_library/sociology/Gender_and_financial_crisis_Sylvia_Walby.pdf

Walby, S., Gottfried, H., Gottschall, K., Osawa, M. (eds) (2007) Gendering the Knowledge Economy: Comparative Perspectives London: Palgrave.

Walby, S. (2007) 'Gender (in)equality and the future of work' Manchester: Equal Opportunities Commission.

Olsen, W., Walby, S. (2004) Modelling Gender Pay Gaps. Manchester: Equal Opportunities Commission.

Walby, S. (2003) ‘Policy developments for workplace gender equity in a global era: The importance of the EU in the UK’, Review of Policy Research, 20(1): 45-64.

Walby, S., Olsen, W. (2002) The Impact of Women’s Position in the Labour Market on Pay and Implications for Productivity London: Department of Trade and Industry Women and Equality Unit. http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/papers/walby-weupayandproductivity.pdf

Gender Transformations, Routledge 1997.

Theorizing Patriarchy, Blackwell 1990.

Patriarchy at Work, Polity 1986.

Contemporary British Society (with Abercrombie, Warde et al) 3rd edition Polity 2000

European Societies: Fusion or Fission? (edited with Boye and Van Steenbergen, Routledge 1999).

New Agendas for Women (edited) (foreword by Clare Short) Macmillan 1999.

Medicine and Nursing: Professions in a Changing Health Service (with Greenwell, MacKay and Soothill) Sage 1994

Sex Crime in the News (with Soothill) Routledge 1991.

Out of the Margins (edited with Aaron) Falmer 1991.

Restructuring Place Class & Gender (with Lancaster Regionalism Group) Sage 1990.

Gender Segregation at Work (edited) Sage 1988.

Localities, Class and Gender (with Lancaster Regionalism Group) Pion 1985.

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