The »Ideal« Student. Intersectional Interference in STEM Education.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Elisabeth Anna GÜNTHER, TU Wien, Austria
Despite several initiatives and policy measures the Austrian higher education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is still hallmarked by an inequality regime. Not only are women are less likely to choose a STEM major, especially in typical engineering subjects such as electrical or mechanical engineering, but female and minority students encounter obstacles during their study time.

This paper traces the effects of intersectional interference at a specific Austrian STEM university. First, the administrative data of the university is analyzed with logistic regression analysis to show to what extent female and immigrant students have lesser chances to persist and graduate, even when pre-education and other factors are considered. A qualitative study than explores the interpretive frame of university teachers as well as students and beginners in the field of math, physics, and computer science. To grasp pre-reflexive stereotypes six openly moderated group discussions (4 with university teacher, one with advanced students, and one with beginners) and eighteen semi-structured interviews are analyzed. The focus is on university teachers, who as authority not only provide a learning setting but also act as guard of the symbolic capital associated with a university degree. The qualitative analysis unveils not only domain specific, excluding mindsets and a high individualization of responsibility but also several implicit stereotypes regarding the competencies of female and minority students as well as challenges for working students and students with impairment. The paper comprises the main results of my doctoral thesis.