Hypatia 31 (1):204-220 (2016)

Amanda Cawston
Tilburg University
Contemporary feminist interest in the persistent underrepresentation of women in top professions suggests an implicit approval of the competition required to achieve these posts. Competition, however, seems to be in tension with feminist opposition to domination and oppression. This paper outlines the dimensions of this tension and examines three attempts to resolve the incompatibility. The first two try to separate the undesirable elements of competition from the positive by way of the competitiveness/competition and the challenge/scarcity distinctions. I argue that these distinctions fail to alleviate worries about competition, particularly in the context of the professions. Meanwhile, the third reconciliatory attempt offers a pragmatic argument for compatibilism based on the value of women's participation in the professions. Although this pragmatic argument has some merit, I argue that it significantly overestimates the amount of competition acceptable for feminist participation. The end result is that, within the context of the professions, competition remains fundamentally in tension with feminism
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DOI 10.1111/hypa.12222
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