Higher Education of Women Between Heterogeneous Logics: Gender-Equality and Scientific Excellence As Conflicting Requirements in University System

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Maria NORKUS , Institut für Soziologie, Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Grit PETSCHICK , Institute for Sociology, Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
At present the German university system is undergoing a number of reforms to improve its models of teaching and research. Equality politics have a high priority in this process. Gender equality in the higher education sector is still unrealized: Despite the fact that now equal numbers of men and women start studying, there is a big drop out of women in higher level of education systems, known as the “glass ceiling effect”. Because of that, equality politics also have take into regard later stages of university education, namely the doctoral and postdoctoral phase.

This contribution is based on a scientific study from 2012, which analyses the benefits of the new measures to promote women within the junior researcher program of a scientific cluster, measures created as part of a new governmental funding policy. The German “Excellence Initiative” is one of the most important initiatives in higher education reform to strengthen international competitiveness and high-quality research. New incentives were created for universities to take into account both scientific and equality policy requirements, in order to reduce the well-known problems of women in this phase. By analysing the situation with the theoretical framework of Neoinstitutionalism, it can be shown that gender equality and scientific excellence are two different logics that came into conflict with each other. These measures partially lead to paradoxical consequences for the careers of women through the constantly changing interplay between heterogeneous environmental requirements and organizational structures. Instead of better support for women, new obstructions appeared in their careers. These unforeseen consequences arise out of conflicting institutional logics and were never intended by any of the institutional actors involved.