Key findings from the MINDtheGEPs gender audit

2022-03-30

MINDtheGEPs is made up of many different kinds of research organisations: public and private, big and small, STEM and SSH. All embedded in different national and regional contexts. According to Cristina Solera, MINDtheGEPs coordinator and professor of Sociology at the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society at the University of Turin, the MINDtheGEPs gender audits have allowed us to figure out our differences and similarities. 

Cristina Solera, MINDtheGEPs coordinator

“Similarities help us to think about how gender assumptions, mechanisms and implications are deeply rooted in the way science and excellence is defined and performed, and in the way research organisations work. Differences teach us the ‘power’ of agency and of contexts: different legislative frameworks, together with different gender cultures and policies in the society as whole and in the academia or research arena more specifically, can lead to different degree and type of gender asymmetries,” says Cristina Solera. 

She continues to explain how, as gender studies have traditionally shown, being multidisciplinary and multiparadigmatic, differences can be a source of inspiration, a great opportunity for the mutual exchange among partners and among disciplines. Looking for common and unique ‘causes’ of and for ‘solutions’ towards gender equality. For example, it emerged from the qualitative interviews that something we seem to have in common is the pressure and consequences of the unconditional worker model, where researchers are expected to dedicate themselves fully to their work and not let family or other responsibilities get priority, and the measuring of performance or excellence using quantitative indicators, what is so often summarized in the slogan publish or perish.

“We have learnt that women, because of their stronger care responsibilities and their stronger attention to soft-skills, often do not satisfy the model of the unconditional worker and they also often refuse to conform to the publish or perish model where they have to write for their academic survival. Instead, they are more likely to abandon the scientific career compared to their male peers,” she explains.

Cristina Solera continues to describe that from our gender audits, it is clear that in particular early-stage researchers seem to be overwhelmed by an uncountable number of requests, from the administrative to the scientific ones, and often perceive and experience the need to make trade-offs between private life and continuing their research career. She describes how that “a particularly significant conflict between work and the private life experienced by many is that of motherhood, to become a mother. Many feel their research career requires them to sacrifice other spheres to fully devote to work in the hope of a stable employment or a promotion”.

But the strength of this pressure to choose between the priorities of private life and a research career also varies. Cristina Solera states that “where precariousness is longer, where, borrowing Hochschild’s expression, the gender revolution is more stalled 'at the entrance of the house' with less men’s share of domestic and care work, where de-familising welfare-state policies are sparse, and where neoliberal labour market practices and rhetoric are more widespread, the pressure is stronger. Context does matter”. 

By Anna Holm

Targeting key areas

Planning for gender equality

News from MINDtheGEPs

Last modified: 2022-09-19