Career Chances of Women in Nanosciences in European Universities – Conditions for International Diversity

author: Birgit Pfau-Effinger, University of Hamburg
published: Feb. 20, 2008,   recorded: February 2008,   views: 3145


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The lecture will place two different questions in the centre: * What are the reasons for gender inequality in relation to the chances to become a University professor in Nanosciences? * How can cross-national differences with respect to the share of women in University career positions in this field be explained? The paper combines a cultural and an institutional perspective. It is argued that institutions like the University are based on, and reproduce, expectations towards the behaviour of individuals. In many European Universities, particularly also in Western Europe, the traditional expectations in relation to the main qualifications and the behaviour of an University professor were traditionally mainly also based on two cultural constructions: * on the image of the male breadwinner who is comprehensively available for his profession, while another person takes over the organisation of his everyday life, as well as housework and childcare; * on a ‘male ‘habitus (according to Bourdieu 1987): this means, that specific qualities that the professor is expected to have are in society defined as ‘male’ qualities. However, together with a fundamental change of European universities in the last fifteen years that can be called an ‘economisation’ of Universities, also the cultural ideal of the University professor, and the expectations which are connected with this position, have in part fundamentally changed. Such change has in part already started earlier in East European countries than in the West. It is argued here that this development has opened new options for women for a University career. However, there are considerable cross-national differences with respect to the chances for women to make a University career in Nanosciences. It is argued that particularly also some cultural factors contribute to explaining such differences: the respective cultural model of the University professor in a society , the societal esteem that is connected with this position, and the way in which “care” is constructed in the dominant cultural model of the family.

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