Ideas, reflections and food for thought that concern equal opportunities for women in science appear here in a random order.
In the context of discussions on equal opportunities for women in academic life, there are sometimes calls for more presence of successful female academics in the media in order to soften gender stereotypes. But more visibility, such as on this website, also harbours the risk of reproducing normative identity prescriptions that apply to female academics.
What do I mean by this?
Well, by highlighting women’s academic successes or their top academic positions, as proud as we are, for example, about the first female president of a Bavarian university, the opposite expectations are indirectly communicated. Or the strikingly modernized pictures of female scientists: certainly, the occasions for presentation relate to important scientific discoveries, the awarding of prizes or the like, just as for male colleagues. But the women scientists are portrayed in a more versatile, original, chicer, and perhaps younger way, while the media discourse on scientists has changed little in recent years. Here it is enough to convey that academic success is based primarily on intelligence, hard work and passion. This is by no means denied to women, but it must / may additionally be a bit more colourful. And what hardly ever happens is to be mentioned in the same breath as famous predecessors such as Newton or Einstein. (By the way, who can name more than four or five famous female scientists of the past off the top of their head?)
Where do you think this development is heading?
From a legal point of view, equality between men and women is a fact. The universities’ efforts to achieve a numerical balance of male and female professors are considerable. But will a future Leibniz Prize winner from UniA one day be mentioned as a matter of course in the same breath as his famous female predecessor from computer science? Will a scientist, inspired by these websites, make his own media performance more flexible and if so, how? And will we expect to find in his curriculum vitae the information that this top researcher has achieved his scientific success despite several years of parental leave? Will the media portrayal as a whole become more diverse, and will this then reflect reality? We should be curious to see what will happen.
To me, only one thing seems relatively certain: in 10 years there will be no more websites that focus on the visibility of female academics. And that is exactly why this website will not have been in vain.
Prof. Dr. Susanne Metzner, women's representative, University of Ausburg
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