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Project description

Affective investments in diversity work in STEM at Danish universities

How do Danish universities harness talent and support aspiration and an academic career for young Danish and international female scholars within STEM? In line with the EU commission and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, universities across the globe are struggling with diversity work and equality actions. Nonetheless, the gender gap in senior research positions at Danish universities is  alarming, particularly within STEM. While the problem is addressed through various action plans and diversity initiatives, there is limited research on how these initiatives affect academic staff and the work environment. If diversity work is to matter, we need to address the affective (imprinted) investments  taking place when diversity work is enacted; e.g. when discussions of how study curricula and methods are gendered or racialized result in conflicts during collegial meetings, or when (proud) celebrations of organisational diversity conceal the frustration, anxiety, wrath or disappointment of some employees.

Conceptualizing diversity work as ‘mood work’, this project aims to explore and learn from affective practices taking place in and across local STEM micro-milieus at Danish universities. We ask How does diversity work affect Academia and academic subjectivities? How do affective investments affect the enactment and fulfilment of diversity work? The project focuses upon the small and informal ‘experiments’ of everyday diversity work and the cultural archive of diversity technologies. Specifically, we centre upon the affective investments and atmospheres that channel and energise processes of diversity work, and through which gendered and racialized aspirations, motivation and senses of (non) belonging emerge.

Methodologically, we combine new feminist materialism, affect theory and intersectional analysis with policy ethnography, memory work, interviews, and learning labs involving  academics and managers (a range of genders, ages, (racialized) ethnicities) from different STEM fields (in terms of professions and numbers of young Danish and international female scholars). This design allows deep analyses of the entanglement of diversity work, affects, organisational conditions and subjective experiences.