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Journal cover: Equal Opportunities International

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159
Currently published as: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal

Online from: 1981

Subject Area: Human Resource Management

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Exploring women's academic careers in cross-national perspective: Lessons for equal opportunity policies

Document Information:
Title:Exploring women's academic careers in cross-national perspective: Lessons for equal opportunity policies
Author(s):Nicky Le Feuvre, (Pôle SAGESSE du CERTOP-CNRS, Université Toulouse II-Le Mirail, Toulouse, France)
Citation:Nicky Le Feuvre, (2009) "Exploring women's academic careers in cross-national perspective: Lessons for equal opportunity policies", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 28 Iss: 1, pp.9 - 23
Keywords:Academic staff, Career development, Equal opportunities, France, Gender, Germany
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/02610150910933604 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – In recent years, several countries and/or higher education institutions have adopted equal opportunity policies to promote women's access to the upper levels of the academic career structure. The purpose of this paper is to argue that there is no universal solution to the glass ceiling that women face within academia. Insofar as the feminisation process evolves according to a variety of models, according to national and occupational context, the solutions adopted in one context may prove to be ineffective elsewhere.

Design/methodology/approach – Analysis of the different models of occupational feminisation is based on a secondary analysis of the sociological literature on the subject, combined with recent data on women's access to academic positions in France and Germany.

Findings – Although there are similarities in the structure of the academic labour market across countries and in the rate of feminisation of the most prestigious academic positions, the precise mechanisms through which women gain access to an academic career vary significantly from one national context to another. This cross-national variation would tend to suggest that there will also be variation when it comes to defining the most effective policy measures for increasing women's access to the upper echelons of the academic hierarchy. Indeed, different models of gender equality in academia may lead to very different results with regard to existing gender relations.

Originality/value – The paper uses the available sociological literature on the feminisation process to examine how different measures adopted to promote women's access to the highest echelons of the academic career structure may have different effects on the reproduction and/or transformation of the dominant sex/gender system.

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