3-5 May 2021
Europe/Vienna timezone

D - Gender, Technology and Society

D.1 Inequalities in Higher Education: (intersecting) theoretical, empirical, and practical examinations

Froebus, Katarina, Scheer, Lisa, Kink-Hampersberger, Susanne (University of Graz)

For decades now, inequalities in education have been intensively researched and theorized. Bourdieu and Passeron (1971), bell hooks (1994), and recently Eribon (2017), to name just a few, discuss in their publications how educational institutions and the people involved contribute to reproducing intersecting inequalities along the lines of e.g. gender, class, ethnicity, and disability. Also for quite some time now, policies and measures directed at equal access to education have been in place at a national as well as institutional level – in Austria just as in many other countries.

Despite these long efforts in both theory and practice and despite important achievements along the way, teaching and learning continue to be shaped by hierarchies and inequalities. It still seems adequate to characterize the education system as preserving the “illusion of equal opportunity” as Bourdieu and Passeron (1971) did almost 50 years ago: It pretends to allow open participation and to measure achievements objectively, but instead it reproduces and even consolidates social hierarchies by creating the illusion of a just selection through alleged objectivity of achievements and seemingly equally distributed opportunities (Schneickert 2013). Bourdieu’s sociological view shows that the individual forms of the habitus unfold their effect and contribute to the stability of definitions and classifications into social categories. Acquired in class/gender/age/race-related socialization processes, specific basic orientations, world views as well as patterns of perception and evaluation appear in the habitus as expression of an incorporated social structure. Stauber and Parreira do Amaral (2015) offer another set on questions/perspectives on the subject by pointing out that it is useful to differentiate between access and accessibility: “[F]ocusing on access to as well as on the accessibility of education” allows taking up different perspectives and asking variant questions because the two terms point at “different analytical levels – structural, institutional, discourse/representation, and individual agency” (Stauber/Parreira do Amaral 2015, p. 22).

Altogether, the focus of the session lies on mechanisms of privilege and inequality, on habitus and power, on educational access and accessibility as well as on reflection and transformation in HE. We are interested in contributions on 

  • theoretical and empirical work applying an intersectional approach;
  • reflections and accompanying research on measures aimed at initiating the reflection and irritation of “habitual orientations” of students, especially student teachers;
  • experiences with initiating processes of unlearning (Haug 2003) and risking to loose and to unlearn privileges (Danius et al. 1993);
  • studies and practical experiences on overcoming social injustices and increasing diversity.


KEYWORDS: higher education, social inequality, intersectionality, reflection, transformations


D.3 Let´s talk about money, sister! –  Governance strategies for structural change in science and research

Thaler, Anita, Karner, Sandra (IFZ),  Jennifer Dahmen-Adkins (RWTH Aachen)

The European Commission financed in its last two framework programmes for research and innovation (FP7, H2020) the implementation and monitoring of gender equality plans (GEPs) in research performing organisations as part of a number of projects (called ‘sister projects’). For the upcoming research funding programme ‘Horizon Europe’ it is discussed to make GEPs a mandatory element of proposals or to require a gender equality plan from applicants..

This is one example of a governance strategy where the allocation of (monetary) resources – in terms of funding – is linked to fostering gender equality in European science and research organisations.

While all sister projects aimed at making decision making bodies more gender equal, only some explicitly focused on financial strategies, for instance by integrating gender budgeting. Others included the money perspective on a regional, national and European level by researching mechanisms of how science and research can be made more gender equal through effective strategies in science policies and research funding.

In this session we want to talk about money, and how it can be used

  • to provide incentives to encourage research performing organisations to become more inclusive and gender equal work places, and moreover
  • to change the whole science and research system towards more fairness and gender equity.


We invite fellows to share their results from researching strategies to promote gender equality through funding, as well as representatives from Research Funding Organisations sharing their experiences.


KEYWORDS:  Gender Budgeting,  Gender Equality,  Research funding, Governance,  Structural change