Gender - Technology - Environment

S19: ´It´s time for structural change, sister!`

DAHMEN-ADKINS, Jennifer (RWTH Aachen University), Germany, RATZER, Brigitte (TU Wien), WROBLEWSKI, Angela (Institute for Advanced Studies), THALER, Anita (IFZ Graz), Austria  

Although women have been excluded from academia for a long time, they found their way into the system and represent now in most European countries the majority of students and graduates. Despite this positive development, research performing organisations remain gendered institutions which exclude women from top positions. This is mainly due to the fact that the dominant culture or the ideal of excellence are still based on the assumption that a good scientist has to devote his/her entire life to science, is free of any other obligations and mobile without restrictions.
Therefore it is common sense that successful gender equality policies in academia have to address this problem and should aim at cultural change. Numerous projects and initiatives aiming at cultural change have been developed and implemented so far. They differ regarding approach, focus, intensity, involvement of management etc. Nevertheless they are confronted with similar challenges or obstacles. Aim of the session is to discuss some of these aspects comparatively.

We are inviting structural change projects financed by the European Commission (former and current ‘sister projects’ from TARGET, GEECCO and CHANGE) as well as gender scholars and practitioners who discuss approaches and experiences how
• to challenge the dominant excellence ideal
• to involve management in a serious and sustainable way in gender equality policies (going beyond lip service)
• to deal with and overcome resistance against gender equality and diversity within the organisation and in society in general
• to develop an intersectional understanding of gender equality
• to include a broad range of stakeholders in the development and implementation of gender equality policies
in research performing organisations and research funding organisations.

We are especially interested in lessons learned from approaches which have proven to be successful for a cultural change towards more gender equality in academia / science and research but also reflections of initiatives which didn’t work out.

KEYWORDS: gendered organizations, structural change, gender equality plans



S20: ´Queering diversity` - in search of the queer and the class in academia and research

AG Queer STS, Austria

Within the Bologna Process “making our [European higher education] systems more inclusive” is one of the latest main goals, as it was formulated by the ministers of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in the Yerevan Communiqué of 2015. Despite efforts to create universities as more open by diversifying students and faculty, academia is still a place of “homosocial reproduction” (Kanter 1977; Möller 2014). The commercial space of technology and engineering also promises remarkable social mobility opportunities for “diverse” individuals (ie. working class, rural, ethnically diverse, queer, etc.), yet these are not kept when examining actual workforce composition. Vivianne Castello put this reality bluntely in her article “Why Most Conversations in Tech About Diversity Are Bullshit — and What to Do About It“.
Intersectionality theory became a great tool to theoretically dissect mono-dimensional shortcomings of diversity efforts, yet Bilge (2013) analyzes how a specific form of academic feminism in tune with the neoliberal knowledge economy works to “depoliticize intersectionality,” neutralizing the critical potential of intersectionality and stripping it from its important power-reflexive analytical potential. Same applies to “diversity studies” which is being translated into managerial voice and then becomes a means to increase profit by and to work more effectively on multinational and multicultural projects, rather than to critically reflect biases and work environments. Class is often completely left out of these conversations. For academia Warnock (2016) describes stereotypes and micro-aggressions working class academics encounter and how their struggling to pass in a middle-class culture leads more and more to increased precarious job situations.

In this session of the AG Queer STS seek to unmask shallow applications of diversity in academia, research, and innovation and detach it from the ‘wellness-marketing-corner’ of tech corporations by bringing the question of power into focus:
Where specifically is class and queerness in queer and intersectional Science and Technology Studies?

We are looking for work that centers power issues and dares to speak about working class identities and advanced discrimination (Dressel et al. 1994) lying within production systems of knowledge.

We invite contributions that may take experimental forms. In addition to paper presentation, we explicitly want to invite artistic and interactive contributions.

KEYWORDS: critical diversity, queer theory, queer studies, queer STS, queer-feminist, class