Analytical Strategy for Dealing with Neutrality Claims and Implicit Masculinity Constructions. Methodological Challenges for Gender Studies in Science and Technology

Tanja Paulitz, Susanne Kink, Bianca Prietl


On the basis of an empirical example, we offer in this article a methodological discussion of the challenges and pitfalls gender studies scholars face when analyzing how gender norms are attributed to epistemic cultures in science and engineering. Faced with actors who claim neutrality and objectivity for themselves and their work, the challenge is to analyze gender norms that are mostly implicit without reifying gender differences. Committed to the goal of opening this black box, we propose an analytical strategy for qualitative empirical research to unveil these subtle, highly normalized, discursive practices of attributing gender norms to the epistemic subjects, objects and activities in science and engineering, and exemplify it with reference to our own empirical study. By comparing the patterns of distinction with respect to epistemic boundaries and to gender differentiations, it is possible to trace connections between the symbolic gender order and epistemic cultures within the data. The allegedly neutral scientist as well as the engineering scholar is then shown to be the androcentric construction of a masculine coded epistemic subject.



gender studies; science and engineering; symbolic gender order; implicit masculinity construction; discursive practices; semi-structured interview; grounded theory methodology; patterns of distinction

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Copyright (c) 2016 Susanne Kink, Tanja Paulitz, Bianca Prietl

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