OSS9102 – Gender in Academia and the Professions

Course description

Course content

This is a theoretically and empirically based lecture course on the social construction of gender within the labor markets of academia and other professions. We start out study with some foundational gender theory pieces. We then turn to a history of the gendered and racialized construction of scientific expertise. We examine the ways in which the understandings of scientific and scholarly excellence are shaped by culture. We study how inequalities are smuggled into the seemingly objective assessment of excellence. We investigate the meanings of motherhood, fatherhood, and work-family balance. We acknowledge that gender interacts with other social axes of inequality, including nationality, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and social class, yet our primary attention in this course is on gender. Our final day considers literature on sexual and gender harassment, including a new study on academia written by the National Academies of Sciences. Engineering and Medicine.

Learning outcome

Students will develop the following capacities:

  • a broad understanding of how gender is socially constructed
  • an understanding of the social structures of academia within the context of professional labor markets
  • an ability to critically read, assess, and write about the relevant scholarly literatures
  • practical knowledge about some of the challenges and promises of academic careers

This course is consistent with the research goals of NORDICORE, a Nordic Center of Excellence at the Institute for Social Research, Oslo. NORDICORE studies key issues that can help us understand and explain what promotes and inhibits gender balance and gender equality within academia and research.


The course paper should be 6,000-8,000 words and can take one of two formats: 

  1. A critical literature review of major course sections; or
  2. by agreement with Mary Blair-Loy, a research paper focusing on your own social science research agenda that also engages with several major course readings.  If choosing option 2, please send Mary Blair-Loy a paper copy of a 1/2-page Proposal, listing your topic, research questions, and course sources, at the beginning of class on Day 3. 

Facts about this course






Summer 2021

Teaching language