Transnational Mobility and the Intersection of Multiple Inequalities in Higher Education
Center for Higher Education Research and Faculty Development Technical University of Dortmund Dortmund, Germany
The globalization of higher education creates a restructuring of careers within the sciences. Transnational mobility within, into and out of Europe reshapes the landscape of higher education and is especially important at the early stages of scientific careers. This paper proposes a transnational perspective on the constructions of individual biographies of women scientists who have chosen strategies of mobility to shape their doctoral and postdoctoral qualification paths. Processes of transnational migration of scientists intersect with multiple inequalities in higher education such as gender, ethnicity, citizenship and world regional origin of the mobile individuals.
The paper is based on a biographical research among transnational mobile women scientists (doctoral students and postdocs) from Germany/Turkey, Poland, Ex-Yugoslavia, India, Bangladesh and Morocco, who where temporary fellows at various European higher education institutions in Germany, Italy and the UK. The scientists of the sample already performed multiple mobilities in the processes of their career buildings to and from universities in other countries, including higher education institutions in Asia, Africa and the US. The research perspective focuses the influence on biographical constructions of mobile scientists in respect of 1) processes of doing science in changing places and 2) the production of transnational biographical structures by living simultaneously in more than one country. How do women as mobile actors in the sciences reflect their career paths and the transnational arrangements of their networks, of their family relations and their partnerships? The survey also considers the requirements of inclusion and the effects of exclusion within differing national social contexts for global bordercrossers in the sciences. It shows how transnational configurations of social structures increase the complexity as well as the contingency of biographical experience. Another effect of globalised lifestyles of scientists is a strong increase of biographical risk, which is not only structured by multiple, but also by contextually shifting social inequalities.
The analysis of the biographical data is based on the approach of "doing biography" combined with the grounded theory methodology. It includes postcolonial and intersectional perspectives on the construction and deconstruction of social differences in transnational biographies in the context of increasingly globalised structures in higher education.