Female scientists believe that they lack the resources and the power to influence change in higher education, and that their careers are distinguished by the lack of clear professional goals and the hopelessness arising from the precarious work and social milieu in which their scientific work takes place.
Female scientists with children are in a particularly difficult position in relation to scientists without children, because their family obligations interfere with daily plans that relate to commitment to their careers and career obligations.
These are the results of research “Gender in Academia and Family Life” conducted by the Centre for Ethics, Law and Applied Philosophy (CELAP) in cooperation with the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade, and supported by PERFORM. The research was presented at the conference "Gender and Academia: Reconciliation of Family Life and Scientific Careers of Female Scientists in Belgrade", held on December 21st at the Rectorate of the University of Belgrade.
The discussion focused on the methodological issues raised by the research, primarily about the benefits of using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as on the need for research that will focus on female scientists who are leaders in their fields in order to detect the strategies they use to develop their careers.
Dr Ivanka Popovic, Vice-Rector of the University of Belgrade, opened the conference emphasising the importance of research that focuses on gender, science and higher education.
Dr Branka Draskovic, adviser to the Minister in the Coordination Body for Gender Equality of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, presented the position of women in Serbia in various spheres of society using data from the Gender Equality Index. Coordination Body for Gender Equality will be involved as a partner in the continuation of the related research at the national level in other universities in Serbia, and plans to use these results in their Action plan on gender equality in the period 2018-2020.
PERFORM Programme Officer Svetlana Kijevcanin stressed PERFORM’s interest in supporting advocacy initiatives based on the results of this research in order to improve the position of women in higher education in Serbia.
Research team, Dr Irena Fiket, Dr Gazela Pudar Drasko, Dr Krisztina Racz and Jelena Ceriman, spoke about the barriers and difficulties women face during their scientific career and the needs of female scientists regarding the development of their scientific career and progress in the system of higher education in Serbia. They talked about the ways in which they combine their professional lives with marital and parental responsibilities, with a particular focus on the differences between men and women in the examined area.
The audience was comprised of representatives of faculties and institutes within the University of Belgrade, social sciences and humanities as well as mathematics and engineering sciences, with a strong gender imbalance, since there was only one man present. This fact is a good indicator of the necessity to keep working on gender issues within the higher education system in Serbia.