Gender Aspects of Academic Mobility

Marta Vohlídalová presented her work at the Universidad Autónoma de in Madrid in May 2016. The talks were attended by undergraduate students, postgraduates and senior researchers.

Academic mobility vs. partnerships and family life: the experience of Czech scientists

The academic mobility is usually perceived and discussed as a positive phenomenon – as a prerequisite for building a competitive and successful science and economy (European Commission 2012). Academic mobility has become nowadays a prerequisite for building a successful academic career in many research domains (Day, Stilgoe 2009). The negative impact of academic mobility on researchers´ lives and especially on women that was addressed e.g. by Ackers, Gill, Guth (2007) and Stalford (2005) is usually overlooked and marginalized on the policy level. In my paper I will focus on academic mobility in the context of partnership and family life of scientists. I will ask two research questions: i) How do researches redefine and reorganize their partnerships and family lives due to their experience with academic mobility? ii) And how do they cope with the problem of combining academic mobility and parenting? The analysis is based on 16 in-depth interviews with scientists from various fields of research about their experiences with long-term fellowships abroad in the early stages of their academic path. The analysis showed that for a large portion of researchers mobility was linked to many concessions they made in their private and family life. In terms of patterns of partnerships during the phase of academic mobility we can see significant gender differences. While, during stays abroad, men can usually rely on the support of their partners who, moreover, curb their professional activity because of their male partner’s mobility and directing more of their efforts into the private sphere, women usually do not have such an advantage of their partner being there with them during a fellowship broad. As for the relationship between parenthood and mobility, the interviews show that parenthood does indeed affect the willingness to be academically mobile and people’s ability to travel abroad for a longer period of time. In this respect, an important role is played by the real conditions people encounter in relation to the combination of work and parenthood in their destination. It turns out that, especially in the case of migrating women researchers and dual career couples with children, the availability of childcare facilities and the culture of a family-friendly social and research environment in their academic destination play a key role (see e.g. Ferber, Loeb 1997).

Darina Martykánová

Darina Martykánová is historian, dealing mainly with Spain and the Ottoman Empire. She works at the Departament of Modern History of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Her research focuses on the history of professions and on transnational circulation of knowledge. Her second line of research concerns the redefinition of masculinites in interaction with the discourse of "progress of civilisation".

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