Factors Influencing the Careers of Young Scientists during the Period of Their PhD. En Ethnographic Case Study

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Grit PETSCHICK , Institute for Sociology, TU Berlin, Berlin, Germany
The underrepresentation of women in science and the question of reasons for their relatively frequent resignation compared to their male counterparts is a much-studied topic of increasing relevance. In this area there are – nevertheless - very few ethnographic studies comparing various disciplines. This paper intents to show the potential of such a discipline-comparative, ethnographic study of doctoral students: With a focus on everyday practices the study researches embedded practices of gender differences and their gender codes, as well as differences in specialized cultures. Thus, a contribution should be made both to explain the proportionally higher exclusion of female scientists from academia compared to their male counterparts as well as for research about the professional culture.

In two ethnographic case studies, the production of gender disparity shall be captured at the level of everyday operation of scientific practices and in habitual actions. The participatory observation is supplemented by interviews. The focus of this investigation are the everyday practices of researchers, since we assume that a number of gendered and gendering practices and their incorporated implicit attributions, are not made consciously by the actors, but happen interactive.

The research examines scientific working groups, whose research is part of an excellence cluster. In particular PhD students in the subjects of physics and chemistry are accompanied through their academic life. Several factors have an impact on daily work and facilitate or hinder coping with the demands during the period of promotion. The studied situations were therefore divided into four categories: time, space, material resources, and social interactions. In all these areas, gender differences can be identified in both disciplines. Furthermore, differences are visible in the methods of scientific working of the two disciplines.