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Prof. Dr. Erin Leahey

Preparing Interdisciplinary Women Scientists: How Universities' Ascendant Priorities Matter

Porträtfoto von Prof. Dr. Erin Leahey © Kristin Gray (Ivory Orchid Photography)
Prof. Dr. Erin Leahey (University of Arizona, USA)

Vortrag in englischer Sprache

Two "ascendant priorities" have characterized efforts to organize and re-organize universities in recent decades: interdisciplinary (ID) collaboration and the diversification of student bodies, faculty ranks, and curricula (Brint, 2018), especially in terms of gender. In response, we have witnessed growth in interdisciplinary programs and research, and in the number of women entering the field of higher education. How, if at all, are these priorities and trends co-mingled, and how do they shape graduate training? While previous research on women's engagement in interdisciplinary research (IDR) has focused on their attitudes, preferences, and research orientations, we investigate how organizational factors such as a university's structural commitment to IDR and the representation of women among tenure-track faculty influence young scholars, particularly young women, in their pursuit of IDR. We suspect that universities' structural commitments to IDR and the gender composition of their faculty will prompt more women to pursue interdisciplinary research. To test this idea, we collate data on the population of research universities in the United States from multiple secondary sources. We present the first large-scale quantitative assessment of whether and how two organizational forces – universities' commitments to IDR and the representation of women on the faculty – influence graduate training and thus the next generation of scholars. We find that these two priorities encourage more women than men to pursue ID research, and – given the premium of IDR in terms of earnings and citations – may help reduce gender disparities in higher education.

This talk is based on a publication co-authored with Dong Joon Park.

Brint, S. (2018). Two cheers for higher education: Why American universities are stronger than ever—and how to meet the challenges they face. Princeton University Press.

Erin Leahey is Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. She is currently spending a sabbatical year at the Center for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University. Prof. Leahey is known largely for her work on science, scientific careers, and inequality therein. Contributions to the new interdisciplinary field Science of Science include studies of specialization, interdisciplinarity, collaborative teams, disruption, and (coming soon) humility in inquiry. She has published three dozen peer-reviewed articles, including seven in our discipline's top three journals (ASR, AJS, and Social Forces), two in the Annual Review of Sociology, and a highly publicized article in Nature about disruption in science. Prof. Leahey further serves as editorial board member for top journals in sociology and higher education and has been elected to council positions in three sections of the American Sociological Association.

Mittwoch, 22. Mai 2024, 16:00–17:30 Uhr | Hybride Veranstaltung
Vogelpothsweg 78 (CDI-Gebäude), Raum 114 | Online via Zoom
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