A Typology of Gendered Pipelines: reconfiguring the approach to researching gender (in)equality in academic/research careers and organizations

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24 May, 1-2 pm (CMB Conference room 2.15)

Farah Dubois-Shaik, Université Catholique de Louvain


A Typology of Gendered Pipelines: reconfiguring the approach to researching gender (in)equality in academic/research careers and organizations

Farah Dubois-Shaik & Bernard Fusulier

In this paper we propose a new Typology of Gendered Pipelines that provides a multi-level, multi-dimensional and comparative analytical framework of leaky pipelines and interrelated phenomena across six European countries and research institutions (Italy, Slovenia, Iceland, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands). Along with previous studies and with a number of contemporary European studies, the FP7 GARCIA project, researching academic and research careers and organizations, establishes that the moving away of women from the scientific or academic path, leading to higher positions does not happen so simply as one could imagine at first glance and that rather than adopting mono-causality, we have to take a more composite view of causes and effects when thinking about the “Leaky Pipeline” and other phenomena (Dubois-Shaik & Fusulier, 2016). Pipelines, in both policy and organizational discourse, are often seen as either career trajectories, or organizational career pathways that point to “leaks”, which are undeniably present in all our case-study institutions. However, in this paper we argue that we cannot simply adopt an approach of “filling the gaps” or of pointing the fingers at gatekeepers. Our various project results have fed the focus on the “leaky pipeline” by providing us with a rich multi-level perspective (gender and welfare regimes, comparative statistical organizational data, organizational culture, structures and governance, experiences of early researchers and academics); a multi-dimensional perspective (regimes, organizational systems, scientific fields, governing units, sex, gender, periods/stages of the career, work/life interference, relationships, power, cultures, contexts etc.); and a comparative perspective (across seven/six European countries, research institutions, SSH/STEM institutes, comparing women/men). This permits us to enlarge the research perspective to “Gendered Pipelines” rather than simply “leaky” pipelines. Through the case-study analyses, we have induced a typology of gendered pipelines, which present on the one hand three abstract ideal-type configurations as they may appear in various cases, allowing for a range of different imaged patterns, based on the circus metaphor that we argue is particularly suited to the academic/research environment. And secondly, these ideal-types are paired with three configurations of gendered career paths and organizations as they may appear in real case studies and through which organizations can identify their gender inequality practices. The aim of identifying these three types, induced from our real case-studies, is to better understand different natures of complex, multivariable, composite “leaky” pipelines; this composition would allow us to situate the different career paths and organizations, not in a scale of more or less “leaks” of women leaving the career, but rather in what is at stake for different levels of the gendered pipelines, in other words what costs are incurred on the level of the individual workers, the organization and science (Latour and Woolgar, 1986).

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