Prof Petra Lucht
Guest Professor on "Gender Studies in Engineering", Technische Univerisität Berlin, Germany.
De-gendering STEM: Lessons learned from the physics lab
Parallel 3: Gender as cross cutting issue in research and innovation
Petra Lucht, Physicist and Sociologist, researches and teaches in the field of Gender Studies in Science, Technology and Engineering at the Technische Universität Berlin. Currently, she holds a Guest Professorship in "Gender Studies in Engineering. (Foto Andreas Kirsch). Her talk is on an ethnographic case study of a physics laboratory in Germany will be presented, that has the striking characteristic that at the PhD and post-doc level, women outnumber men. While such a clustering of women in male-dominated fields may occur frequently in local settings, such an inversion in workplace gender balance has escaped the notice of gender studies in STEM.
In Germany, the participation of women at all stages of the academic career in physics has increased after the turn to the 21st century, but on average women make up only 20-25% of physics students at the bachelor, master, and PhD level. It is concluded that this physics laboratory exemplifies an exceptional assemblage of norms and policies of gender equality, processes of recruitment, work organization and professional culture of physics that is inclusive for women and men with different biographical backgrounds. Prior investigations in gender studies have shown that the professional culture of physics is constituted by interwoven ways of ‘doing gender’ while ‘doing physics’. In contrast, this case study shows that ‘doing physics’ and ‘doing gender’ might become dis-entangled in this local setting. Therefore, this study contributes to challenge perspectives on gender and STEM research that seek to de-gender STEM fields.