Academic career as a gendering process of individual trajectories
Center for life course studies (Pavie) University of Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland
Research center Methodology, inequalities and social change (MISC) University of Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland
Academic careers are supposed to follow objective and meritocratic criteria based exclusively on individual skills and their adequacy to job requirement. To this end, equality commissions that are integrated in most universities for decades work at minimizing any kind of discrimination when selecting or promoting individuals for specific positions. Still, persistent unequal distribution of (tenured) academic positions between women and men at the time being cast doubt on this claim. Identifying possible gendering processes is a difficult task as it often involves discreet factors combination of different natures and at different levels. Drawing from gender studies and sociology of work, this paper aims to discuss the structural and normative models that prevail in Academic Science and their consequences for academic careers. Based on a mixed mode approach combining optimal matching and qualitative analyses our results show in an integrated manner that gender differences, social origin, disciplinary specificity, organizational choices and time related structural opportunities act as cumulative disadvantages in the trajectories of individuals. More specifically, the positions women are meant to apply for are not only more precarious, but also less central in the academic working networks and less associated with future tenured positions.