New Trends, Old Asymmetries. Gender Implications for the Emerging Generation of Researchers in Italy
In this paper we will discuss the first results of the GARCIA project – Gendering the Academy and Research: combating Career Instability and Asymmetries, financed by the FP7 Programme of the European Commission. The project, with a three-year duration (2014-2017), involves seven European countries (Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, Iceland, Slovenia) and focuses on the early phases of the academic career, in which the presence of temporary positions, not included in tenure track paths, has enormously increased in recent decades. Adopting both a quantitative and a qualitative approach, we will analyse a case study conducted in a medium-sized university located in the north-east of Italy.
From a quantitative point of view, we will disentangle whether and how the above-mentioned aggregate trends in gender gaps vary between STEM and SSH disciplines, and how the early stages of scientific careers in different fields of study differ between men and women according to their individual and family characteristics.
The qualitative analysis will be based on forty in-depth interviews conducted at the Departments of Information Engineering and Computer Science and of Sociology and Social Research. The interviews involved both male and female post-docs and temporary researchers currently working in the two departments, and PhD holders who worked with temporary positions in these academic contexts in the past, but who are now continuing their careers elsewhere, in academia or in other fields.
In the conclusion we discuss the implications of the recent changes in the academic system, from a gender perspective, highlighting how the current processes not only do not help to overcome the inequalities of the past but rather contribute to producing new ones. The demand for greater flexibility and availability, the acceleration of work rhythms, increasing instability, and reduced career prospects have in fact different implications for male and female researchers.