Gender Critical Research Network

This research network brings together a range of academics and scholars, all of which share a common interest in exploring how sexed bodies come to matter in their respective research fields and a common commitment to ensuring that a space within academia is kept open for those explorations. We will reflect on the importance of sexed bodies for health and welfare.  We will critique the constraining stereotypes of gender. We will provide a hub through which theories and research can be shared and exchanged and will host workshops and an annual one-day conference. Our events will be maximally accessible. We aim to foster evidence-based and rigorous research in this burgeoning field and explore ways to foster maximum knowledge exchange, impact on policy and ideas and dissemination.

To hear about the Gender Critical Research Network and what we are about listen to our launching podcast

We encourage membership from across all faculties and from outside the University. We also encourage involvement from PGR, academics and researchers who are interested to understand and know more about what is meant by ‘gender critical’ research.

The Co-Convenors of the group are Professor Jo Phoenix (, Chair in Criminology, and Dr Jon Pike (, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy.  Both are happy to field enquiries.


Professor Jo Phoenix: joined the Open University as Chair in Criminology in August 2016. Jo’s research interests include gender, sexualities and justice, youth justice and punishment, the production of criminological knowledge and research ethics. These general interests have meant that I have studied and written about a wide variety of subjects including managerialism and ethics in the production of criminological knowledge, prostitution, prostitution policy reform, child sexual exploitation, sex and its regulation, youth penality and youth justice practice and policy. For more information click here.



Dr Jon Pike:  joined the Open University in 1998, as Staff Tutor and Lecturer in Philosophy in the South East Region. He has written on his major teaching topic: political philosophy, from level one (on Cultural Exemptions) to the MA in Philosophy which he now co-chair with Derek Matravers. Within political philosophy, Jon has written about political obligation, distributive and global justice, and he maintains an interest in both Marx and Aristotle who were the topic of his doctoral dissertation and first book. Jon’s main research interest is in the Philosophy of Sport. Pike is the current Chair of the British Philosophy of Sport Association. For more information click here.


Dr Laura McGrath: is as a Lecturer in Psychosocial Mental Health in the School of Psychology and Counselling. She joined the Open University in 2019, having previously worked at the University of East London where she was programme leader for Clinical and Community Psychology BSc and co-leader of the Mental Health and Social Change Research Group. Laura’s research interests cluster around the role of context – social, material and political – in experiences of health and wellbeing. This has included work looking at the role of the material environment in experiences of mental distress, the relationship between austerity and mental health, as well as an interest in non-clinical and arts-based interventions. She also has a developing interest in women’s health. For more information click here.


Becky Devlin has worked as a manager in HE for over 15 years. With a background in biology she has managed curriculum in health sciences, law, finance and business. She has also led a STEM faculty research administration team and a strategic employer engagement programme. Becky is interested in research in areas of policy development and legislation, and their effects on safety and equality in society.


Jessica Evans’s is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences and Global Studies. Her research rests in systems and psychoanalytic approaches to organisations and culture and more broadly the place of emotions in public life in interaction with private life.  Her particular interest is in the organisational dynamics of role, governance and policy – how public organisations pursue unconscious tasks at variance with their explicit and primary tasks as a consequence of their relationship with the social and cultural environment. Her early research was on visual culture, representation and disability. She also has an active interest in assessment pedagogy and the emotional aspects of learning and is a committee member of the Assessment in Higher Education network. For more information click here.




Holly Lawford-Smith is an Associate Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She has worked on climate ethics, collective responsibility, and feminism. Her current research is focused on radical and gender critical feminism. She has written on gender critical issues for Aeon, Feminist Current, The Australian, The Age, The Conversation, Areo, Quillette, Crikey, and The Spectator. Her second book, Against Gender: Why We Need Gender Critical Feminism, is coming out with Oxford University Press in January 2022.


Selina Todd is Professor of Modern History at Oxford University and co-Director of the University’s Women’s Equality Research Network. Her research focuses on the history of women, feminism and class struggle in modern Britain.

Her book The People: the rise and fall of the working class 1910-2010 placed women at the centre of working-class history. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into several languages. Her most recent funded project examined the importance of sex-disaggregated data in policy making and is detailed here []


Dr. Tomas Bogardus is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pepperdine University. His research on gender critically evaluates recent revisionary projects of “conceptual engineering,” as well as common arguments in the literature against biologically based definitions of terms like “woman” and “man.”


Ingeborg Kroese is a 3rd year postgraduate student in the Faculty of WELS. Currently, I am drafting my thesis which is due to be submitted in October 2021. My research focusses on the role of sex/ gender in corporate employee training.





Social Media:

  • Jo Phoenix – @JoPhoenix1
  • Jon Pike – @runthinkwrite


Affiliated Members:

Professor Rosa Freedman: is the inaugural Professor of Law, Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading. She received her LLB, LLM and PhD from the University of London, and is a non-practising barrister and member of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. Freedman’s research focuses on the UN and human rights, and she has published extensively on UN human rights bodies and systems, and on UN peacekeeping and accountability for human rights abuses committed during such operations. Her published work includes three monographs, two co-edited collections, and articles in American Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law, Leiden Journal of International Law and Human Rights Quarterly, amongst others. Freedman is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Civil Society Advisory Board on prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, is a Specialist Adviser on safeguarding to the UK government International Development Committee, and sits on the UK FCO Women, Peace and Security Steering Group.

Alice Sullivan is Professor of Sociology at University College London (UCL) and Head of Research at the UCL Social Research Institute.

Alice Sullivan’s research focusses on social and educational inequalities in the life course. She has made extensive use of secondary data analysis of large-scale longitudinal data sets in her research, with a particular focus on the British birth cohort studies of 1958, 1970 and 2000. She has published on areas including: social class and sex differences in educational attainment, single-sex and co-educational schooling, private and grammar schools, cultural capital, reading for pleasure, social mobility, and health inequalities. She has also written about conflicts between scholarly and scientific values and gender identity politics.


Photograph credited to Laerke Olsvig

Photograph credited to Laerke Olsvig

Kathleen Stock is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sussex. Her recent research focuses on the nature and impacts of sexual objectification, on sexual orientation, and on sex and gender. Earlier research concerned philosophical questions about fiction, imagination, and pretence. Since 2018 she has been speaking and writing publicly on gender recognition reform and associated matters. She has written on these controversial issues for a variety of publications including The Economist, Quillette, Standpoint, The Conversation, Tortoise, and Unherd. She was awarded an OBE for services to higher education in 2020.





Hannah R Marston is a Research Fellow in the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area. Since completing and graduating from her doctoral studies in 2010 Hannah has worked in Canada and Germany as a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist, respectively.

Hannah is an interdisciplinary researcher, and her interests lie in the fields of videogames, digital (health) technology, technology adoption, gamification, health, wellbeing, digital ex/inclusion, age-friendly cities and communities, ageing, and user experience. Hannah has published over 40 peer-reviewed journal papers, 10 book chapters, led and co-guest edited special issues and has presented her research at both national and international conferences. In 2018, Hannah gave a keynote presentation at the ‘International Child and Information Safety Congress ‘Digital Games’’ conference held in Ankara, Turkey.

Hannah is involved in a wide range of research projects and is currently leading on two Covid-19 related projects:

  1. Covid-19: Technology, Social connections, Loneliness and Leisure Activities international project. This Consortium includes partners from Spain, Germany, Austria, India, Portugal, Singapore, USA, Ireland, Turkey, and Romania.
  2. Covid-19: Dating Apps, Social Connections, Loneliness & Mental Health in a Pandemic
  • Twitter: @HannahRMarston
  • Website:


Samantha Pay is currently an OOC (Open, Oxford, Cambridge) DPhil student and her research is highly engaged with the argument that sex matters in the field of AI/tech/data ethics. My department OII is multidisciplinary and my own research is seated within social science, data science, philosophy, psychology, and feminism.




External Funding:

  • Coming soon


Publications (Journals, Books & Chapters)

  1. Ricciardelli, R., Phoenix, J. & Gacek, J. (2020), It’s complicated”: Canadian Correctional Officer Recruits’ Interpretation of Issues Relating to the Presence of Transgender Prisoners, Howard Journal of Crime and Justice.
  2. Freedman, R., & Phoenix, J. (2021). When feminists fight back. The Spectator, 12th June 2021.
  3. Pike, J. (2020) Safety, fairness, and inclusion: transgender athletes and the essence of Rugby, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, DOI: 10.1080/00948705.2020.1863814
  4. Pike, J. (2019) Action theory and the value of sport, Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 46:1, 14-29, DOI: 10.1080/00948705.2019.1574585
  5. Evans, J. (2003) ‘Vigilance and Vigilantes: A Psychoanalytic View on Anti-Paedophile Protesters’, Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 7 (2) Spring. pp. 163-189
  6. Evans, J. (2009) ”As if’ intimacy? Mediated persona, politics and gender’, in Emotion: New Psychosocial Perspectives (2009), eds. S.Day-Schlater, D.W. Jones, H.Price and C.Yates, Palgrave, pp. 72–84.
  7. Lawford-Smith, Holly. Against Gender: Why We Need Gender-Critical Feminism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  8. Lawford-Smith, Holly., & Megarry, Jessica. ‘Is There Collective Responsibility For Misogyny Perpetrated On Social Media?’ Carissa Veliz (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
  9. Lawford-Smith, Holly., & Phelan, Kate. ‘The Metaphysics of Intersectionality Revisited’, Journal of Political Philosophy, (2021) [early view].
  10. Lawford-Smith, Holly. ‘Ending Sex-Based Oppression: Transitional Pathways‘, Philosophia 49 (2021), pp. 1021-1041.
  11. Todd, S. (2014). The People: the rise and fall of the working class 1910-2010 (John Murray).
  12. Todd, S. (2019). Tastes of Honey: Shelagh Delaney and the making of a cultural revolution (Vintage).
  13. Todd, S. (2020). Snakes and Ladders: The Great British Social Mobility Myth (Chatto and Windus)
  14. Stock, K (2021) Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, Fleet/ Little Brown
  15. Stock K, Sexual objectification, objectifying images, and ‘mind-insensitive seeing-as’ (2018) in A. Berqvist and R. Cowan (eds) Evaluative Perception 295-309. Oxford University Press.
  16. Stock, K (2015) Sexual objectification. Analysis 75(2):191-195
  17. Stock, K (2020) Objectification, International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Wiley.
  18. Stock, K (2019) Can you change your gender? The Philosopher 107
  19. Stock, K (2019) XIV — Sexual orientation: What is it? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119(3):295-319
  20. Marston, H.R., & Kowert, R. (2020). What role can videogames play in the COVID-19 pandemic? [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res2:34.
  21. White, P.J., Marston, H.R., Shore, L., & Turner, R. (2020). Learning from COVID-19: Design, Age-friendly Technology, Hacking and Mental Models [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Emerald Open Res2:21
  22. Marston, H.R.,& del Carmen Miranda Duro, M. (2020). Revisiting the Twentieth Century Through the Lens of Generation X and Digital Games: A Scoping Review. Comput Game J
  23. Marston, H.,& Graner-Ray, S. (2016). Older Women on the Game: Understanding Digital Game Perspectives from an Ageing Cohort. In: Emma Domínguez-Rué/Linda Nierling (Eds.), Ageing and Technology (67-92). Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
  24. Marston, H.R. (2013). Digital Gaming Perspectives of Older Adults: Content vs Interaction. Educational Gerontology, 39(3), 14-208, doi:10.1080/03601277.2012.70081
  25. Marston, H.R., Kroll, M., Fink, D., & Gschwind, Y.J. (2016). Flow experience of older adults using the iStoppFalls exergames. Special Issue: Gaming & Aging; Games & Culture Journal, 11(1-2); 201-222. doi: 10.1177/1555412015605219
  26. Marston, H.R., & Smith, S.T. (2013). Understanding the digital game classification system: A review of the current classification system & its implications for use within games for health. In: Holzinger A., Ziefle M., Hitz M., Debevc M. (eds). Human Factors in Computing & Informatics. SouthCHI 2013. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 7946. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. pp. 314-331. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-39062-3_20

Media & online news articles

  1. Norman, J., Sharpe, A., Freedman, R., et al. (2018). ‘Shifting sands’: six legal views on the transgender debate. The Guardian, 19th October 2018. Available at ‘Shifting sands’: six legal views on the transgender debate | Julian Norman, Alex Sharpe, Rosa Freedman, Rosemary Auchmuty, Stephen Whittle, Maureen O’Hara and Peter Dunne | The Guardian.
  2. Women’s Rights and the Proposed Changes to the Gender Recognition Act. (2018). Oxford Human Rights Hub.
  3. Sharpe, A., Freedman, R., Auchmuty, R. (2018). What would changes to the Gender Recognition Act mean? Two legal views. The Conversation, 5th October 2018. Available at What would changes to the Gender Recognition Act mean? Two legal views (
  4. Freedman, R., & Auchmuty, R. (2018). Never mind reforming the Gender Recognition Act, there’s no need for Gender Recognition Certificates at all. Feminist Current, 14th September 2018. Available at Never mind reforming the Gender Recognition Act, there’s no need for Gender Recognition Certificates at all (


  1. Jo Phoenix – Savage Minds
  2. Jon Pike – Philosophy 24/7
  3. Jo Phoenix – Replaforming Deplatformed Women
  4. Jo Phoenix – A Woman’s Place is Made to Last
  5. Women and Equalities Committee hear evidence from academics and experts on reform of the GRA. (2020). YouTube
  6. A Woman’s Place is at the Bar. (2018). YouTube
  7. Coronavirus shows why it’s vital to distinguish sex and gender Spectator, 11th May 2020 Savage Minds podcast on gender ideology, academic freedom and data collection, 28th January 2021.
    1. The gender Wars, Academic Freedom and Education;
    2.  The intergenerational transmission of language skill;
    3. Pathways from origins to destinations: Stability and change in the roles of cognition, private schools and educational attainment;
    4. Sex and the Census: Why Surveys Should not Conflate Sex and gender Identity.