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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility Among India’s Professional Elite


Prof. Dr. Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (University of California, Irvine)

Date and Time

April 08, 2022, 4 - 5:30 pm


In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country’s lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows for aberration in certain workspaces?

Juxtaposing findings on the legal profession with those on elite consulting firms, Swethaa Ballakrishnen reveals that parity arises not from a commitment to create feminist organizations, but from structural factors that incidentally come together to do gender differently. Simultaneously, their research offers notes of caution: while conditional convergence may create equality in ways that more targeted endeavors fail to achieve, “accidental” developments are hard to replicate, and are, in this case, buttressed by embedded inequalities. Ballakrishnen examines whether gender parity produced without institutional sanction should still be considered feminist.

In offering new ways to think about equality movements and outcomes, Accidental Feminism forces readers to critically consider the work of intention in progress narratives.

Venue / Registration

The lecture takes place on-site as well as online.

Taking part ONLINE requires Registration.

ON-SITE: University of Zurich, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, Room RAA E27, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich


Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies - Indian Studies