Knowledge, Institution and Gender: an East-West Comparative Study (KNOWING)

Duration: 01/2006 - 12/2008

State of the Art - Austrian Report to the European Commission, April 2007

Felt, Ulrike (ed) (2009) Knowing and Living in Academic Research. Convergence and Heterogeneity in Research Cultures in the European Context  (Prague: Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic). <Download>

Sponsors: Europäische Kommission; 6. Forschungsrahmenprogramm "Science & Society"

Project collaborators: Ulrike Felt; Lisa Sigl; Veronika Wöhrer

Project links:


Building on scholarship in feminist philosophy and social studies of science, the project will examine the role of gender in the production of knowledge contexts and cultures in an East-West perspective in two scientific fields (sociology and biology). While critiques of science and situated conceptions of knowledge have been developed in western Euro-American contexts, traditional assumptions of knowledge production were largely unexamined in the former state-socialist countries. The absence of local examinations of knowledge contexts currently jeopardises effective implementation of gender equality in the ERA. The study will apply a multi-method approach that aims to build theory and to develop appropriate conceptual tools. Research will be simultaneously carried out in the five partner countries. It encompasses the analysis of existing statistical data on two select research institutions per country that will be situated in national contexts, and the analysis of a life course questionnaire distributed to the members of these institutions requesting demographic and career related information. Subsequent stages include the analysis of documents on public discourse on science, and institutional policies and procedures; targeted participant observation of research practices in the select institutions; in-depth interviews with a diverse group of scientists and repeat focus groups that will further explore and contextualise salient concerns. The research will culminate in a comparative cross-national analysis. A summary report will give account of national practices and the role of gender in knowledge contexts, identify potential differences due to historical divergences in Eastern and Western Europe, and make recommendations for the promotion of gender equality and the engagement of young people in science. Findings will be disseminated at national and EU levels to influence science policies and to encourage the establishment of feminist science studies.

Project objectives

  • To examine the production of knowledge contexts and cultures, including the role of gender, from an “East-West” perspective
  • To identify structural and institutionalised practices and procedures, including standards of excellence, that hinder and/or promote the equal participation of women in science
  • To encourage the establishment of feminist science studies in the partner countries, especially in the new EU member states
  • To influence policy on higher education and research and development at the national and EU levels in order to promote gender equality and increase the engagement of young people in science

    Project partners

    Tschechische Republik
    Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
    Marcela Linkova, Alice Cervinkova, Katerina Saldova, Laura Henderson
    Department of Gender Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University
    Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer, Jan Matanoha, Tereza Stockelova

    Slowakische Republik
    Faculty of Philosophy, Comenius University
    Mariana Szapuova, Zuzana Kiczkova

    School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds
    Anne Kerr, Lisa Garforth

    Department of Sociology, University of Turku
    Seppo Poutanen, Jutta Ahlbeck-Rehn
    Turku School of Economics and Business Administration, Turku
    Anne Kovaleinen

    Scientific Advisors:
    Tschechische Republik
    Gerlinda Smausova, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Brno

    Helen Longino, Stanford University, Department of Philosophy
    Karen Kapusta-Pofahl, Research Assistant to Helen Longino, University of Minnesota

    Susan Hodgson-Molyneux, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield