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Change and Persistence of Gender Disparities in Academic Careers of Mathematicians and Physicists in Germany

Bettina Langfeldt, Anina Mischau


This article discusses whether or not gender-related disparities exist within the academic fields of mathematics and physics regarding the application of career knowledge and the experiences of disadvantage in relation to recognition of performance, assessment of professional competencies, and integration into networks. To answer this question, primary data was collected with a structured online survey addressing graduates in both academic fields (n=5,174). The article considers a subsample of respondents working at a university or university of applied sciences (n=1,613). Apart from the gender perspective, other factors potentially influencing the academic careers of mathematicians and physicists, such as being in a certain subject, age cohort or having children, are also considered. Some of the key findings are: a) more gender differences occur in mathematics than in physics; b) the experiences of disadvantage in the workplace constitute a cross-disciplinary phenomenon caused by the gender differentiating academic culture; and c) more female than male academics in both disciplines accept constraints or abandon career goals due to child care.


academic career; gender disparities; mathematics; physics; German higher education system; career knowledge

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