In_Temperate Struggles – a Reflexive Debate on Intra-Organizational Research Projects on Intersectionality in a STEM University.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Elisabeth Anna GÜNTHER, TU Wien, Austria
Sabine T. KOESZEGI, TU Wien, Austria
Universities constitute spaces of struggles through which different agents are trying to set foot and gain recognition. In this paper we want to shed light on struggles that happened in an Austrian public university in the course of a multi-layered change process towards more gender fairness. We thereto utilize our own experiences within this specific university and reactions towards our two intra-organizational research projects that aimed to unveil discriminatory, pre-reflective practices and facilitate a change process. The perceived reactions serve as vantage point to examine the power forces at play, which we reflexively debate in order to reveal the different sources of resistance and make them accessible to change.

The arena we focus on in this paper is the University we both currently work in, which – however – is just one of many examples. The University is the largest of three STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) universities in Austria. As STEM university, the University defines its research as “cover(ing) the classic engineering disciplines” (University website). Similar to many other Austrian University, there is a horizontal and vertical segregation of female and male staff. Furthermore, intersectional interferences impact the chances of minority members, leaving a lot of space for fairness to be implemented. In this paper we discuss the encountered forms of resistance and – to a lesser point – support of fellow members of the University. By applying Bourdieu’s analytical apparatus we reflexively debate the perceived practices of our colleagues. The level of analysis is less our personal, individual practice – which of course is embedded in the lived relations and interactions with other agents – but the encountered relational practices such as recognition, resistance, and boundary heightening of our peers