Perugia, 6 October 2001

Barriers to women’s career in Academia: A dialogue between social psychology and policy.

An international conference sponsored by:
European Science Foundation

With the help of:

-Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH), Paris

-The British Academy

-Dipartimento Istituzioni e Società, University of Perugia

-Centro per le Pari Opportunità, Regione dell’Umbria

The difference between men and women in the academic world in Europe is well documented. Even in the disciplines were women are a majority they remain confined at the lower levels of the career ladder and their career progress - if it happens - is considerably slower than men’s. The reasons of this situation are diverse. Among the factors that prevent women from planning a career in academia are the traditional gender roles and the stereotypical judgements according to which women are more often judged on the basis of stereotypes than according to their abilities. In addition, there are factors linked to the specificity of this particular type of job (i.e. the difficulty to reconcile family roles with a job that requires time, attention and concentration). Furthermore, these traditional gender roles do not just constitute an external factor  but also they become internalised by women themselves and have an effect on their motivations and career aspirations. Moreover, women have difficulties in recognising their abilities and in valuing themselves, thinking that being presented as very capable could decrease their femininity. Finally, women in academia manifest higher levels of stress than their male colleagues and have a tendency to be overloaded with teaching activities that, while important, are less valued than research.

The idea of the conference was born during one of the work sessions of the group of European social psychologists “Women and Power”. The group has been meeting regularly at the MSH in Paris since 1998.

The objective is to facilitate the communication and exchanges between researchers and representatives of the political world, the University authorities and Equal Opportunities Officials both at the level of the five participating European countries and of the European Union. Representatives of Academic Unions and other groups that are interested in this issue will also be invited to this conference (for example associations of women academics, the Athena group etc).

The intention is to sensitise people to the issue, to open the debate and to elaborate workable propositions. The organisers also hope to increase the visibility of the issue through the media.

Co-ordinating group

-Angelica Mucchi-Faina
(Convenor), University of Chieti "G.D'Annunzio", Italy

-Ligia Amancio, ISCTE, Lisbon, Portugal 

-Xenia Chryssochoou, University of Surrey, UK

-Marie-Claude Hurtig, CNRS, Aix-en Provence, France

-Sabine Koch, University of Heidelberg, Germany

-Chiara Volpato, University of Trieste, Italy.


October 6 (Sala della Biblioteca, Palazzo della Penna, Via Podiani, 11)

9.30- 10.00.
A word of welcome from the European Science Foundation (Thorgerdur Einarsdottir) and from the other institutions which support the Conference.

Morning session Chair: Angelica Mucchi-Faina (Convenor, University of Chieti)

How can the barriers in women’s academic careers be overcome? Research findings

Presentation of the group “Women and power” and introduction to the group’s papers.

“Women in the Academic field: some data from five European countries” (presented by Ligia Amancio, ISCTE).


“The psycho-social barriers. I: Explicit and implicit forms of discrimination”(presented by Lenelis Kruse, University of Heidelberg).


Coffee break

“The psycho-social barriers. II. Impact on career aspiration and effects on Identity. Women academics coping strategies” (presented by Glynis Breakwell, University of Surrey).


Interventions and general debate

Buffet lunch

Afternoon Session
Chair: Laura Balbo (Former Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities).

How can the barriers in women’s academic careers be overcome? Directions of public policy

Intervention of Denise Cacheux (President of the Obseravtory of Equality, France)

Intervention of Brigitte Mühlenbruch (Head of Centre of Excellence Women in Science, University of Bonn, Germany).

Intervention of Marina Piazza, (President of the Commission for Equal Opportunities, Italy).

Intervention of Teresa Patrìcio (Vice-President of ICCTI, Portugal).


Intervention of Janet Finch (Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, U.K).

Coffee break


Intervention of Nicole Dewandre (Acting Head of Women and Science Unit, European Commission).

Other interventions

General discussion and concluding remarks .

Organisation Secretary
Martina Barro
Dipartimento Istituzioni e Società
Università di Perugia
Via Elce di Sotto
06100 PERUGIA -ITALIA/font>

tel/fax +39 075 585 5405; +39 075 584 8183; 339 370 1336