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Qualified by Numbers

„Gone are the days of the quiet scholar,“ says Prof. Louise Morley, Director of the „Centre for Higher Education & Equity Research“ (CHEER) at the University of Sussex. The economization of whole areas of society is to blame for the fatal development which does not spare science either, says the educationalist.

For the first time CUI, SFB 676, PIER and the co-operation partners RTG 1670, EMBL, CSSB and SFB 925 had invited to an evening event within the Women’s Career Day series in the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), which placed science into a greater societal context.  

Morley ganzklein

Prof. Louise Morley, University of Sussex

In her talk titled “Gender, neoliberalism and research in the global knowledge economy”, Morley sketched the impacts of Neoliberalism: In this normative culture things are metricised, graded and qualified by numbers to maximize value. Morley: “We are looking at ourselves as investments. It’s not a question of people consenting, it’s about funding.” Neoliberalism rewards people or crushes them and thus plays with their emotions. In the end there are just winners or losers. “The question now is,” Morley said, “does this coincide with gender binaries?”

These provocative theses made you think. Especially natural sciences using ultra-modern facilities need large sums of money, as one of the listeners added. Collaborations are good solutions, confirmed Morley – having in mind that this is also underlined by gender principals. “We hope that with these kind of lectures we can make people aware of the hidden mechanisms”, said Marie Lutz, Equal Opportunity Officer at CUI, who moderated the evening.


The organizing team (from left): Marie Lutz (CUI), Wiebke Kircheisen (SFB 676) and Mirko Siemssen (PIER). Credit: CUI, Adler

Furthermore, the main topic of the third Women’s Career Days was the communication of practical skills. The topics ranged from project management via self-marketing of women to time-management within research and leadership training. “The fact that the workshops were booked quite early, stresses how relevant these topics are for our target group. I am particularly pleased that the this year’s Women’s Career Day with 36 participants from 14 nations reflects how international our research groups are,” says Wiebke Kircheisen, Managing Director of the Collaborative Research Center „Particles Strings and the Early Universe“ (SFB 676).” Mirko Siemssen, Coordinator of PIER, the strategic partnership between DESY and Universität Hamburg adds: “If we continue successfully to respond to individual needs and at the same time to focus on the societal context, we are on the right track here in Bahrenfeld.”

View the talk on video: lecture2go.