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Gendered networks in academia
Inst. för pedagogik och specialpedagogik, Göteborgs universitet.
Inst. för pedagogik och specialpedagogik, Göteborgs universitet.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education.
2011 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper takes as a starting point the complexities and proposed changes of contemporary power relations within academia recognised throughout the Western world. For example, it is said that ‘traditional’ gender relations are losing ground as growing numbers of women position themselves in e.g. educational research (Murray & Maguire, 2007; Arnesen et al., 2008; HSV, 2008). However, the pattern is still that men occupy more senior positions (Ducklin & Ozga, 200; Kurtz-Costes et al., 2006; Silander, 2010). Notwithstanding, institutions are influenced by a growing performative discourse, which might affect the dominating power and gender relations in research work (Acker, 2008). Our paper presents preliminary findings from a Swedish research project, Gender and career in academia, the main aim of which is to develop knowledge about gender and other power relations within universities. Six academic institutions were selected to present a variety of departments of education/educational sciences according to location, size, major orientation, traditions, and externally funded research. We also interviewed approximately 120 doctoral students and junior researches, in order to map structures, positions and relations within research groups, and in doctoral programmes (Smith, 2005). Theoretically, we draw on Ball’s (2008, 2009), Rhodes’ (1997) and Newman’s (2001) ideas of governance and networks in institutional contexts. It is argued that academic institutions, departments and milieus vary with regard to social and economic capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Field, 2009; Lin, 2002), used as resources for power. These resources promote certain networks and groups before others, they condition scientific interests, and how positions are given and ordered, i.e. they enable different careers. We further agree with Connell (1996, 2002) and others who underline that gender can be performed differently depending on contexts, i.e. the power and gender regimes do not automatically follow the prevalent gender order. In this paper we focus on one of the six selected academic institutions. The aim is to show how individual and collective resources are provided and used from a power and gender perspective. A preliminary analysis shows that subject discipline, research traditions and external funding influence junior researchers’ possibilities to access horizontal and vertical networks and other career productive resources. Also, former supervisors are found to act as gatekeepers to networks and capital which condition career paths. Notions of gender and other social categories impact on junior researchers’ possibilities to be seen as ‘promising’ researchers with potentials to make a successful career. The analysis also illustrates how positions in the horizontal institutional network tend to affect positions provided by the vertical network. Resources (social, economic) used and provided in the horizontal network are often needed in order for the researcher to be admitted into the vertical network. Further, aspects of trust play an important role in the process, where institutional networks and different positions are established. We also argue that many vertical networks promote performativity and thereby exclude those (often women) lacking legitimacy and certain resources for power.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
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Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-45499OAI: diva2:429887
GEA (Gender and Education Association) 8th International Conference: Gender and Education: Past, Present and Future, Exeter, UK
Available from: 2011-07-06 Created: 2011-07-06 Last updated: 2016-09-05Bibliographically approved

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Silfver, Eva
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