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Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Fiona Mackay

Fiona Mackay
Professor Fiona Mackay
Professor of Politics; Director of genderED
3.18 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 650 4244
Research Interests
Gender and political institutions, gender mainstreaming, gender and public policy, Feminist institutionalism, women's movements, International Organisations, Feminism, Institutions and institutional change, organizations and institutions, Political representation, gender based violence, women and politics, Inequality & diversity

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Thursdays 10-12 or by appointment. Contact me at

My Edinburgh Research Explorer listing can be accessed here:


  • BA (Hons) Politics and Modern History (University of Manchester)
  • PhD Politics (University of Edinburgh)

Recent posts

Fiona Mackay is Professor of Politics,  and director of genderED the University's interdisciplinary hub for gender and sexualities studies. She is a former Dean and Head of the School of Social and Political Science (2014-2017).  She served as Director of the Graduate School of Social and Political Science (2009-12), Deputy Director (2003-07), and Politics Postgraduate Adviser (2007-8). She was a member of the ESRC Virtual Research College (2003-2008), the ESRC Case Studentship Panel (2005-07), and the ESRC DTC Peer Review College (2010). She serves on the editorial boards of Policy and Politics, European Journal of Politics and Gender, and PoliticsGroups and Identities. She founded and co-directs the Feminism and Institutionalism International Network (FIIN), an international collaboration developing a distinctive approach to the study of gender and politics.  She is a member of the Gender Politics Research Group, and curates the twitter feeds @genderpol  @uoe_genderED and @femfiin and the blogs genderpolitics@edinburgh.  In 2019 Fiona was awarded the ECPG Career Achievement Award and in 2020 was recipient of the University's  Susan Manning Award for Inspiring Mentor.

Fiona is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). She is Trustee and Honorary Secretary of the UK Political Studies Association (2019-) and serves as Senate Assessor and Academic Member of the University of Edinburgh Court (2020-).  In 2020 she joined the Board of the international feminist knowledge network Gender at Work

Current Teaching

Fiona teaches in the broad areas of feminist politics, Scottish and British politics, global politics, and approaches to the study of politics. In 2020-21  she will be contributing to:

  • PLIT10106  Research Design in Politics and IR ( RDPIR)   (convenor Dr Sara Dorman)
  • SSPS08010  Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World (convenors Dr Meryl Kenny and Dr Sarah Liu)
  • PLIT10113 Gender, Power and Representation (convenor Dr Meryl Kenny)

Claire Duncanson, Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay won the UK Political Studies Association Innovation in Teaching Politics (Group) Award 2018 for their collaborative work on teaching gender politics over a decade. Meryl Kenny and Fiona Mackay won  Best Course   and were runner-ups in the Innovative Assessment category for their course SPS in Practice in the 2015-16 EUSA Teaching Awards.

Research Interests

Research  interests include: gender and political representation, feminist institutionalism,  gender and institutional change, gender and public policy.

Fiona  currently directs an internally-focused project Integrating Gender Equality into GCRF Funding Bids and Projects  (with Dr Rosalind Cavaghan as lead researcher) under auspices of genderED (funded by SFC/University of Edinburgh IDRH).  A suite of resources including a new tool and guidance has been prepared to support UoE researchers and their global research partners to plan and deliver gender sensitive research for development. 

In 2021, Fiona begins a new AHRC funded project (led by Professor Louise Jackson, HCA, Edinburgh; with co-investigators from UCL and UWE) entitled Gender Equalities at Work: An Interdisciplinary history of Fifty Years of Legislation. It is the first comprehensive longitudinal study(from 1960s to present) of the creation, trajectories, legacies and lived experiences of the Equal Pay Act (1970) and Sex Discrimination Act (1975) (now integrated in the Equality Act 2010) across the four nations of the UK.

Fiona was part of the UGC-UKIERI funded project Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives: Questions of Identity, Pedagogy and Violence in India and the UK, led by Dr Radhika Govinda (University of Edinburgh) which ran from 2017-2020; the DfID funded programme Political Settlements, led by Professor Christine Bell and the Global Justice Academy (University of Edinburgh) (2015-18); and the European Research Council funded programme, Understanding Institutional Change: A Gender Perspective, led by Professor Georgina Waylen (University of Manchester, ended 2017). 

With colleagues at the Australian Human Rights Institute (UNSW) and Ambedkar University Delhi, Fiona co-curates the annual 16 Days Blogathon to raise awareness of the global 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence (November 25- December 10).


Books and Edited Collections

R. Govinda, F. Mackay, K. Menon and R. Sen (eds) (2020) Doing Feminisms in the Academy: Identity, Institutional Pedagogy and Critical Classrooms in India and the UK, New Delhi and Chicago: Zubaan Publications and The University of Chicago Press.

M.L. Krook and F. Mackay (eds) (2011/15) Gender, Politics, and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism,  Houndsmills, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Praise for Gender, Politics, and Institutions 

This superb book is one of those rare collections that moves a field forward --Mary Fainsod Katzenstein, Cornell University.

P.Chaney, F. Mackay and L. McAllister (2007)  Politics and Constitutional Change: the first years of the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 

E.Breitenbach, A. Brown, F. Mackay and J. Webb (eds) (2002) The Changing Politics of Gender Equality in Britain, Houndsmills, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

F. Mackay  (2001) Love and Politics: Women Politicians and the Ethics of Care, London: Continuum (* Awarded CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in 2002).

E.Breitenbach and F. Mackay (eds) (2001) Women and Contemporary Scottish Politics: An Anthology, Edinburgh: Polygon.

Recent articles and book chapters 

F. Mackay (early view) ‘ Dilemmas of an academic feminist as manager in the neoliberal academy: negotiating institutional authority, oppositional knowledge and change’, Political Studies Review [Open Access] 

L. Chappell and F. Mackay (early view) 'Feminist critical friends: dilemmas of feminist engagement with governance and gender reform agendas', European Journal of Politics and Gender  [Currently available as Open Access through the EJPG Virtual Reading LIst] 

M. Kenny and F. Mackay (2020) 'Women, Gender and Politics in Scotland', in. M. Keating and C.McAngus (eds) Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics. Oxford University Press.

F. Mackay and  C. Murtagh (2019)' New Institutions, New Gender Rules? A Feminist Institutionalist Lens on Women and Power-sharing', Feminists@Law 9 (1) [Open Access]

 L. Chappell  and F. Mackay (2017) 'What's in a Name? Mapping the Terrain of Informal Institutions and Gender Politics', in G. Waylen (ed) Gender and Informal Institutions. Rowman Littlefield International, 23-44.

 M. Kenny and F. Mackay(2017) 'Feminist and Gender Approaches", in V. Lowndes, D. Marsh and G. Stoker (eds) Theory and Methods in Political Science, 4th Edn. Palgrave Macmillan, 92-108.

PhD Supervision

Fiona is an enthusiastic and experienced supervisor. She is able to offer PhD supervision in most areas relating to gender and politics (international, national and local), gender and public policy, and British and Scottish politics. Fiona particularly welcomes prospective students with interests in feminist and institutionalist approaches to the study of gender and politics, gender and multi-level governance, and in aspects of post-devolution gender politics in UK. 

Current PhD and MSc (R) supervisees

Tatiana Cary (PhD Social Policy, Chrystal Macmillan Scholarship). Co-supervisor.

Avril McIvor ( PhD Social Work, University Staff Scholarship).  Asst. supervisor.

Kate Holliday ( MSc (R)Politics and IR).  Principal Supervisor.

Recent doctoral supervisees

'Gender and the Cadre System: Recruitment and  the CCP's Central Committees'. Peach Lin ( Visiting PhD student, Xiamen University).

'The Gendered logics of Party Organisation". Nuria Alcaraz (Visiting PhD student, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

'No Country for Losers? Gender, (in)equality, and the discursive construction of subjects and values in Polish politics'. Barbara Gaweda (PIR, SPSS studentship) (Awarded 2017).

'Be polite, Be professional, Be prepared to kill': Counterinsurgency, Masculinity and British Military Doctrine. Hilary Cornish (PIR, ESRC studentship) (Awarded 2015).

The Politics of Gender Quotas: What Accounts for the relative success of gender quotas in the first Southern Sudanese Elections? Angelina Mattijo-Bazugba (Social Policy, SPSS scholarship) (Awarded 2014).

The virtues of the self: ethics and the critique of feminist identity politics. Elena Pollot (PIR, ESRC studentship) (Awarded 2013)

'A wheel within a wheel': Adoption and implementation of Gender Budgeting in the sub-state governments of Scotland, Euskadi, and Andalucia. Angela O'Hagen (Glasgow Caledonian University). (Awarded 2013)

Gender Mainstreaming as a knowledge process: towards an understanding of perpetuation and change in gender blindness and gender bias. Rosalind Cavaghan (PIR, ESRC studentship) (awarded 2012). * winner of the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) Gender & Politics PhD Award 2013

Gendered Institutional Change in South Africa: The Case of the State Security Sector. Lara de Klerk (African Studies, Commonwealth studentship) (awarded 2011).

Agents and Institutions: Donald Dewar and the Politics of Devolution. Andrew McFadyen (PIR) (awarded 2011). 

What happens to the Radical Potential of Gender Mainstreaming? Implementation and Institutionalisation in Gendered Organisations. Amanda Wittman (PIR, SORSAS/HSSS scholarship) (awarded 2010).

Gendering Institutions: The Political Recruitment of Women in Post-Devolution Scotland. Meryl Kenny (PIR, SORSAS/CHSS studentship) (awarded 2009).* winner of the PSA Arthur McDougall Fund Prize 2009 for the best PhD on elections, electoral systems or representation.  

Forces for Good? British Military Masculinities on Peace Support Operations. Claire Duncanson (PIR, ESRC studentship) (awarded 2008).

Understanding Democratic Engagement at the Micro-Level: Communication, Participation and Representation. Peter Moug (PIR, ESRC studentship) (awarded 2008).

Mainstreaming equality at the Scottish Executive: the discursive construction of policy. Katherine Bilton (PIR, ESRC studentship) (awarded 2005).

Organising Against a Violent Society: Women's Anti Violence Organisations in Sweden and the UK. Lesley McMillan (Sociology, ESRC studentship) (awarded 2003).

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome proposals on most topics in the fields of women & politics, and gender and political institutions. I am particularly interested in the gendering effects of political institutions, gender and institutional innovation (such as quotas, gender mainstreaming, "gender-equal" constitutions etc) at global, national and local levels; women's political representation, and gender and devolution in the UK.

If you are interested in being supervised by Fiona Mackay, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Politics; MSc (R) Politics