Women in higher education and their road through Romania's second modernity




Dragne, Cornelia

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study explores the conditions in which women teaching and conducting research in the fields of computer science, computer engineering and information technology in six Romanian universities live and work. The research begins from women’s concerns and practices of everyday life, rather than those of institutions and disciplines. This exploratory work asked two fundamental questions of the women interviewed: what does it mean to be a woman academic in these high-tech disciplines, and what does it mean to be a second world academic. Employing a critical feminist ethnographic framework, the study explored the professional lives of seven women academics whose ranks varied from Lecturer to Professor through in-depth, face-to-face interviews. A number of documents were also reviewed in order to create a context for the major social and political changes in Eastern Europe – including its new connections to Europe – that had an impact on the professional journeys of women academics in Romania. Findings convey a multiplicity of conscious and unconscious inclusion and exclusionary practices, and ways in which gender, technology, higher education, neo-liberalism and globalisation are bound together. The findings reveal nuanced systemic gender exclusionary practices suggesting that the theoretical underpinnings and practice of gender equality employed in Romania and by Romanian higher education institutions needs much further study. Women academics in computing face a complex interplay of discouraging factors such as severe financial austerity and the masculine domination of the disciplines being most salient. The implication for educational change is the need to establish structures and mechanisms to foster honest debate around the dilemma: equality of opportunity, equality of outcome versus gender mainstreaming which has been the normative action in Eastern Europe for decades.



computer science, Eastern Europe, computer engineering, academia, university, post-communism, gender equity, socialism