Despite efforts to foster gender equality, women remain under-represented in tenured professorships, especially in STEM disciplines. To investigate which attributes are required in the pre- versus the post-tenure career stage, we interviewed 25 tenured STEM professors in Germany. We found that different attributes are mentioned in the pre- versus the post-tenure career stage and that the required attributes can be associated with gender stereotypes: while agentic–stereotypically male–attributes were mentioned more frequently than communal attributes in the pre-tenure career stage, communal–stereotypically female–attributes were reported more often than agentic attributes after reaching tenure. Our study advances our understanding of why women remain under-represented in tenured professorships by pinpointing that previously described structural barriers are reproduced in professors’ subjective views, which poses an additional barrier to the advancement of female researchers. Going beyond previous research, our study illustrates that communal attributes are highly required post-tenure, which challenges the assumptions underlying the predominant stereotype ‘think professor-think male’. Based on these novel findings, we discuss important implications for gender research and practice to contribute to more diversity and transparency in academic career advancement.
The funding of this study was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF (grant number FKZ 01FP1602) as part of the research project “Führend Wissen Schaffen – Erfolgsfaktoren für Gewinnung und Aufstieg von Frauen in MINT-Führungspositionen in der Wissenschaft (FührMINT)”.
Rehbock, S. K., Knipfer, K., & Peus, C. (2021). What got you here, won’t help you there: changing requirements in the pre- versus the post-tenure career stage in academia. Frontiers in Psychology. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.569281