Gender in Academia in Finland: Tensions between Policies and Gendering Processes in Physics Departments

  • Kristina Rolin
  • Jenny Vainio
Keywords: gender in academia, equality policy, physics

Abstract

This article contributes to the growing literature on gender and physics by employing the concept of gendering processes to the study of physics departments in Finland. We show that gendering processes can have paradoxical and ambiguous outcomes for women. In order to understand gendering processes, we analysed two kinds of data: gender equality policies in academic organizations and interview data with 36 physicists, both male and female. On the basis of the interview data we argue that physics departments are gendered in the dimensions of symbols and images, interaction, and mental constructs. We also argue that there are tensions between policies and gendering processes in physics departments because policies do not fully succeed in identifying the processes that maintain inequalities between female and male physicists. The tensions explain why gendering processes have paradoxical and ambiguous outcomes.