Accepted Paper:

Potentials of a widened concept of culture for gender research in STS. The example of Chinese and Indian female doctoral researchers in computer science at German universities  

Author:

Katharina Losch (Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

A widened concept of culture not only gives new insights into understanding 'doing gender' but also shows ways of questioning 'masculine' cultures. My doctoral project about Chinese and Indian female doctoral researchers in computer science at German universities represents such an approach.

Paper long abstract:

A focus of culture that refers to national borders is still widespread in research that analyses the way gender is (re-)produced in computer science. In this context, many studies arrive at the conclusion that the masculine 'nerd' culture remains stable in that field.

In contrast, my doctoral project that investigates the situation of Chinese and Indian female doctoral researchers in computer science at German universities emanates from a concept of culture that transcends national borders. This widened focus on culture gives a new perspective on the process of doing gender in computer science and reveals ways of how the masculine nerd character of computer science can be questioned. Different enabling but also restrictive socialisation factors that shape the individual experiences are taken into account, such as different images of computer science that foster women in that field: whereas in Germany the nerd image is prevalent, e.g. in India, computer science mainly means good job opportunities - regardless of gender. However, for those women, doing a doctor in computer science in Germany is not common. They are confronted with different expectations both in relation to their Chinese or Indian lifeworld and to the German work setting in computer science.

A widened conceptualisation of culture challenges the traditional methodology and new procedures have to be created. For example, in my qualitative interviews, assumed familiar patterns of women's experiences in computer science are put aside, however, they are used in a comparative form.

Panel C12
Colliding theories, cultures, and futures. STS view(s) beyond the horizon. Or: STS diaspora