- Les femmes dans le monde acadé-mique. Perspectives comparatives ed. by Rebecca Rogers, Pascale Molinier
This is a book of proceedings from an international conference on women in academic institutions held in March 2015 at the University of Paris 13 and organized by the University of the Sorbonne Paris-Cité with support from the Institut Émilie de Châtelet and the European Union TRIGGER project. The fact that it was selected for the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development is proof of the Union's support for research on these topics. This general context, more favourable than previously though there are still some points of vulnerability made it possible to hold such an ambitious three-day conference.
The book contains a considerable proportion (13) of the contributions to the 2015 conference along with three short sections summarizing the 36 papers. Some of the papers had already been published. The volume is divided into three parts: pioneers, current academic careers, institutional changes and the levers thereof. But the chapters can also be subdivided into historical studies, sociological studies and personal accounts. The nature of the contributions differs considerably. Some present archive findings, others original surveys, and then there are more or less personal narratives. The volume focuses primarily on France but six of the thirteen chapters discuss a foreign country or province: Belgium, Germany, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Quebec and Switzerland. The disciplines represented are quite diverse: history, sociology, psychology, philosophy and educational science. This geographical, disciplinary and historical variety, together with the different scales studied, ranging from the individual to the structure, evidence the strong ambitions of the conference, and the volume is quite complete. The three examples of pioneering institutions and groups of women academics–female medievalist historians at the École Pratique des Hautes Études of Paris, Toulouse universities from 1912 to 1968, and medical and scientific faculties in Paris from 1869 to 1939–were all drawn from French university history. They reveal three situations. First, being a foreign female student made it easier to gain admission to these institutions. Second, the fact that a woman established a precedent in being hired did not mean another would be recruited for a comparable position; often it took many long years. And third, being endorsed by a man in a high position within the given institution was a major advantage–the mark of an essentially patriarchal system.
Part II is more sociological and examines the mechanisms at work in greater detail. Drawing on data from the European Union GARCIA project, Nicky Le Feuvre offers a detailed account of the theoretical and methodological issues involved in this research field. She begins by observing slippage over time from an argument formulated in terms of social justice to one emphasizing women as a factor for efficiency in academic institutions, and she stresses the need for attention to context and taking into account status and pay differences between [End Page 537] universities of different countries. The impact of having a child is not the same everywhere either. The author's review of the international literature covers individual and social factors of inequality but also institutional ones. In this connection, she mentions the importance of identifying "gatekeepers" who filter information and the positive impact of raising their awareness.
Drawing on qualitative interviews with Belgian post-doctoral researchers of both sexes, Pascal Barbier and Bernard Fusulier describe the tensions between parenthood and the demands of this particular professional world. They distinguish between reinforcement (parenthood experienced as a factor that improves research work), the positive effect of shifting priorities toward the family, and conflict between the constraints of the two spheres, a conflict reported only by the mothers in their sample.
Alban Jacquemart and François Sarfati explore data from an internet survey on how university personnel feel about their work. Despite a general sense of being socially useful, women have a more negative attitude toward their work than men. And administrative staff and technicians have a more negative view...