The Chemistry of Time-Poor Gendered Lives: Institutional Gender Culture, Technology and the Politics of Knowledge Production

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Blanka NYKLOVA, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
The European Union supports the building of a democratic “European Knowledge society,” which includes a focus on mutual interconnections between science, technology, society and culture. One of the approaches to tackling these is oriented on the gendered nature of scientific and university institutions, the resulting “waste of talents”, the impact this may have on knowledge production, its characteristics as well as the lives of women researchers. The funded projects often take the form of introducing changes to S&T institutions in hopes of improving the conditions for women already working there, and opening them up to women candidates that might be interested in them.

In the past eight months, I have taken part in a feminist research and advisory team that conducted twenty in-depth semi-structured interviews with women researchers of different generations, positions and specialisations at a Czech technical higher education and research institution. While fairly broad, the interviews also focused on the perceived role of women in science, the obstacles they face and ways of overcoming these as well as the very desirability of striving to overcome them. At the same time, the interviews covered individual biographical paths to the research participants’ current position and their strategies of combining their time-poor research, teaching and personal lives. In the paper, I specifically focus on how they understand, embody but also challenge highly gendered cultural and institutional practices (such as Czech/institutional values regarding the provision of childcare) in the context of their professional lives. I show that personal stances and strategies are always already contingent on specialized technological equipment and fundamentally time-constrained in a gendered way. This makes me argue that their complex experience cannot be understood or assessed without a direct link to the particular politics and culture of science and knowledge production.