Accepted Paper:

How neoliberalism and Western norms of meritocracy have triggered gender inequality in the process of construction of academic excellence in Slovenia and other European countries   


Jasna Fakin Bajec (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the processes of the construction of academic excellence and highlights (in)formal criteria for scientific quality in Slovenia and European countries that are involved in the GARCIA project: Gendering the Academy and Research: Combating Career Instability and Asymmetries.

Paper long abstract:

The problems that neoliberalism trigger in the contemporary society have also gradually impacted the scientific environment, shaped scientific work and profoundly changed the local and wider social context in which the research takes place. Capitalist logic has been introduced in the field of construction of academic excellence as well, which is based on the academic system grounded in Western norms of meritocracy. The main formal criteria for excellence have become "productivity, peer review, citation indexes, international referred publications and membership of editorial boards" (van den Brink, Benschop 2011). The measurement of the internationally comparable quality of researchers, research groups and research institutions and universities has brought about a shift in emphasis from the quality of research to the quantity of published articles in high-impact journals. Because of the international system of monitoring, the broader socio-cultural role of science and its intellectual agents in the local cultural environment has thus been accordingly reduced. Furthermore, in Slovenia crisis-related reforms from 2012 have profoundly reduced funding for research, and the struggle to obtain European projects has become a fundamental task of researchers. This is especially true for early career scientists, who have become "a tool for creating projects' proposals". As they do not have time for research and to publish obtained results, they are under the constant pressure of the norms of scientific evaluation. Moreover, such quantitative criteria also produce multiple inequalities between genders, where unpaid work/administrative work is more imposed on young female scientists.

Panel P041
Higher education and transnational academic hierarchies: anthropological work in/on the academic periphery