The Relevance of Gender in a University: Access to the Field as a Methodological Challenge and Source of Information

Theresa Lempp, Mandy Glöckner, Nora Krzywinski, Nadine Fischer, Hannah Zimmermann, Katharina Tampe


Within the framework of ethnography, field access plays an essential role for the progress and success of research projects using such a methodology. Based on a gender studies project in which we analyzed the change of gender arrangements (LENZ & ADLER, 2010) within a German university, we illustrate how field access not only poses a methodological challenge but also serves as an important source of information. Contrasting two faculties we show how the issue of gender is addressed in different organizational units. The two faculties have in common that they understand the gendering of the faculty culture as a question of numbers. At the same time the topic is externalized and thereby not taken as a relevant organizational task. Finally, we link the empirical results to the theoretical discussion about the "gendered organization" (ACKER, 1990; MÜLLER, RIEGRAF & WILZ, 2013) and deduce methodological challenges for gender studies.


ethnography; gender and organization; higher-education research; field access; gender studies; participatory observation


Copyright (c) 2018 Hannah Zimmermann, Mandy Glöckner, Nora Krzywinski, Theresa Lempp, Katharina Tampe, Nadine Fischer

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