An enduring legacy of the Beijing Conference, gender mainstreaming has been widely implemented and widely critiqued since the 1990s. But the basis of these critiques has changed over time: this article charts a typology of critique approaches. It shows how the central problem is diagnosed variously as the loss of the political dimensions of gender in the course of mainstreaming; or technical shortcomings; or the gendered nature of organisations as the causes of technical failure. For others, the problem has been the failure to scrutinise the connection between gender mainstreaming and changes in gender relations in women’s real lives. More recently, another group asserts that the trajectory of gender mainstreaming is simply part of the much broader logic of neoliberal governance. Understanding the technologies of power that shape a feminist practice suitable for the governance institutions into which it is inserted can help guide future feminist engagement.