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Women and Biological Research Careers in Higher Education in Mozambique: A Case Study of Two Public Universities
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research. (Education and Science)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3748-6908
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The issue of women’s experiences in biological research careers in academia in Mozambique is under-researched. This lack of knowledge does not enable the country to design structural tools that can help women to overcome the obstacles and challenges they face and hence boost their career progression in academia. This thesis aims to fill this knowledge gap by examining the reported experiences of senior and junior women in biological research careers located in two different sociocultural and academic settings in Mozambique. My concern is with how the societal and institutional features of the academic settings in which female biologists are situated shape their biological research careers and how they made sense of these experiences. Inspired by feminist institutional ethnography and the concept of inequality regimes, I conducted face-to-face qualitative interviews with 39 people, the majority of whom were married women with dependent children and at different stages in their careers. The findings show that due to the local socio-cultural factors deeply rooted in a patriarchal culture and local conventions regarding marriage, the careers of many women were socially, culturally and institutionally vulnerable due to tensions between their academic work and the women’s ascribed family duties. These women were unable to go abroad and get a PhD which meant that most of them were stuck at the lower stages of their careers, even when they were the majority of the workforce in the Department of Biological Sciences. Such a social barrier was institutionally recreated through the absence of a set of institutional supportive frameworks for women’s careers. As part of the inequality regime governing the universities, there was no concern and commitment at faculty or departmental level with promoting gender equality or with tackling the prevailing gender inequalities in academic careers. Most academic managers of both sexes (though they were predominantly men) revealed a lack of gender awareness and commitment to tackling gender inequalities due to their adherence to the supposedly gender-neutral ideology of meritocracy. This suggests a passive resistance towards gender issues that contributed to maintaining and perpetuating women’s disadvantaged position in terms of career advancement possibilities. Women from different generations reacted differently in the face of these obstacles at societal and institutional levels; older women were more gender-conforming while juniors were more progressive in terms of their attitudes and willingness to contribute to institutional changes and moving forward. Women’s careers were also affected by a pervasive lack of adequate material work conditions and incentives for experimental research.

Abstract [pt]

As experiências das mulheres nas carreiras de investigação em biologia na academia em Moçambique são pouco estudadas/conhecidas. Esta ausência/carência de conhecimento não permite ao país desenhar instrumentos estruturais que possam apoiar as mulheres a ultrapassar os obstáculos e desafios que enfrentam e consequentemente/deste modo impulsionar a sua progressão na carreira académica.

A tese procura preencher esta lacuna do conhecimento examinando as experiências relatadas de mulheres seniores e júniores em carreiras de pesquisa biológica localizadas em dois ambientes sócio-culturais e académicos distintos em Moçambique

Preocupou-me conhecer como as características sociais e institucionais dos ambientes académicos em que as biólogas estão inseridas moldam as suas carreiras de pesquisa nessa área e como deram sentido a essas experiências. Inspirado na etnografia institucional feminista e no conceito de regimes de desigualdade realizei entrevistas qualitativas presenciais com 39 pessoas, a maioria mulheres casadas com filhos dependentes e em diferentes fases das suas carreiras

Os resultados revelam que devido a factores sócio-culturais locais enraizados na cultura patriarcal e nas convenções locais em relação ao casamento, as carreiras de muitas mulheres eram social, cultural e institucionalmente vulneráveis devido às tensões entre o trabalho académico e os deveres familiares atribuídos às mulheres. Essas mulheres não puderam ir para o exterior e obter um doutoramento, o que significava que a maioria delas estava presa nos estágios mais baixos das suas carreiras, mesmo sendo a maioria da força de trabalho do Departamento de Ciências Biológicas. 

Tal barreira social foi institucionalmente recriada pela ausência de um quadro institucional de apoio às carreiras dessas mulheres. Como parte dos regimes de desigualdade que regem as universidades, não havia preocupação e cometimento a nível da faculdade ou departamento com a promoção da igualdade de género ou em combater as desigualdades de género prevalecentes nas carreiras académicas. A maioria dos gestores académicos de ambos os sexos (embora fossem predominantemente homens) revelou falta de consciência de género e compromisso com o enfrentamento das desigualdades de género devido à sua adesão à ideologia da meritocracia supostamente neutra em termos de género.

Isto sugere uma resistência passiva às questões de género, contribuindo para manter e perpetuar a posição desfavorecida das mulheres em termos de possibilidades de progressão na carreira. Mulheres de diferentes gerações reagiram de forma diferente perante uma série de obstáculos em níveis sociais e institucionais; as mulheres mais velhas revelaram-se mais conformadas e passivas diante das normas de género prescritas de si esperadas enquanto as mais novas eram mais progressistas em termos das suas atitudes e vontade de contribuir para mudanças institucionais e avançar nas suas carreiras. 

As carreiras das mulheres também foram afectadas pela falta generalizada de condições materiais adequadas de trabalho e de incentivos para a pesquisa experimental.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala University-Sweden: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2022. , p. 286
Series
Uppsala Interdisciplinary Gender Studies ; 2
Keywords [en]
women, biological research careers, higher education, institutional ethnography, inequality regimes
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-470681ISBN: 978-91-513-1456-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-470681DiVA, id: diva2:1647736
Public defence
2022-05-17, Geijersalen, 6-1023, English park campus, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-04-25 Created: 2022-03-28 Last updated: 2023-03-13

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