Several research organizations as well as national and regional governments in Germany started various programs in the 2000s to raise the percentage of women professors at universities. Though the numbers did increase, as the German Council of Science and Humanities states, woman professors remain under-represented. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, in 2016 only 11,000 out of 47,000 professors were women. Available data on leadership positions at universities and on remuneration levels indicate that the under-representation of women continues “beyond the glass ceiling”.

Various studies on the cultures and structures in the sciences and the higher education system show that it is not primarily formal entry barriers which (re-)produce inequality, but the cultural and often informal practices of recognition and marginalization in the daily routines of academic life. Almost all available studies on women’s careers in academia refer to the situation before the permanent appointment as (full) professor, while only few publications look at mechanisms of recognition and marginalization after the appointment. The few studies that have been conducted generally focus on specific academic disciplines and their cultures.

While the small number of studies on (women) professors address the situation at full universities, there is no literature on women professors’ situation for the other three types – universities of applied sciences, universities of arts and universities of music. The differences in the career patterns and qualifications, related orientations and self-conceptions as professors, and the organizational as well as (disciplinary) cultural specifics have received little scholarly attention so far.

An additional research gap exists with respect to the ways in which women professors at these university types meet mechanisms of marginalization.


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