22 SES 12 D, Gender in Academia, the Views of Students
The prerequisites for organizing academic institutions and disciplines have changed in recent years, in line with increasing demands for effectiveness and marketization, which have also had a considerable impact on what it means to do academic work. In this article a group of women academics are investigated in terms of how they produce subjectivity; e.g. how they move and think in relation to their careers and career choices. This group consists of 19 early-career academics who express an interest in doing research, but who are, for different reasons, almost only involved in teaching and administration. They are active in Education Sciences and have responsibilities for teaching programmes, student contacts, programme coordination, and for courses at basic and masters level.
Contemporary academic institutions represent a highly competitive system, where academics are competing for value, space, funding and merits. This “Competitive University” has made academic work into a more auditable set of practices and turned academics into de-individualized members of an auditable group Basically, researchers have become more and more identifiable, comparable and measurable as a result of their attempts to meet the goals set by government. Here, this development is seen in light of the fact that men and women tend to work in different parts of academia. Women academics are more often than men found in the vocationally oriented public-sector education departments. These are generally less research intensive (Angervall, Beach & Gustafsson, 2015; Angervall & Gustafsson, 2015). Although women outnumber men in many academic fields, men tend to outnumber women in “more advanced” areas and are more often found in highly valued research positions (Acker & Armenti, 2004; Archer, 2008 a, b; Carvalho & Santiago, 2008). Carvalho and Santiago (2008) illustrate how women tend to work in less prestigious and stable academic institutions, where the focus is on teaching rather than on research. What is also suggested is that the growth of women-dominated areas in teaching and administration risk turning these areas into “feminine” traps laid in the academic career path (Angervall, Beach & Gustafsson, 2015; Carvalho & Santiago, 2008). Carvalho and Santiago (2010) show that changes in the higher education system have resulted in the creation of new and flexible human resource management strategies that are promoting informal recruitment procedures that are making the selection system more closed and gender biased.
Further, several studies show how the culture of performativity re-creates and reinforces structures of differentiation (see e.g. Ball, 2012; Morely, 2005). For example, men still tend to work in more research intensive areas, and women in less prestigious and stable academic institutions, where the focus is on teaching rather than on research. These structures must also be connected to a growing and almost unmanageable workload. For instance, the increased number of students and the increased demands for efficiency in teaching and research, as well as more administrative measures such as ranking, put heavy strains on those performing academic work: “/…/ a process whereby academic work is taken apart and given to others /…/ professional administrators” (Ryan, 2012, p. 5). Finally, several studies illustrate how more borders between academic cultures, subject areas, personal choices and capacity are appearing, and how these borders can be explained by referring to demands for competitiveness and accountability.
Acker & Armenti, (2004). Sleepless in Academia. Gender and Education, 16, (1), 3-24 Angervall, P., Beach, D. & Gustafsson, J. (2015). The unacknowledged value of female academic labour power for male research careers. Higher Education Research & Development. In print. Archer, L. (2008 a) “The New Neoliberal Subjects? Young/er Academics constructions of professional identity”. Journal of Education policy, 23 (3), 265-285. Archer, L. (2008 b) “Younger academics” constructions of “authenticity”, “success” and “professional identity”. Studies in Higher Education, 33 (4), 385-403. Ball, S. J. (2012). Performativity, Commodification and Commitment: An I-Spy Guide to the Neoliberal University, British Journal of Educational Studies, 60, 17-28. Braidotti, R. (2013). Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. Columbia: Columbia University Press Carvalho, T., & Santiago, R. (2010). New challenges for women seeking an academic career: the hiring process in Portuguese higher education institutions. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 32: 239–49. Carvalho, T., & Santiago, R. (2008). Academics in a New work Environment: The impact on New Public Management on Work Conditions. Higher Education Quarterly, 62 (3), 204-223 Davies, B., & Petersen, B., E. (2005). Neoliberal discourse in the academy: the forestalling of collective resistance. Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences, 2, (2), 77-98. Morely, L. (2005). Opportunity or exploitation? Women and quality assurance in higher education. In Gender and Education. 17(4). 411-429
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