Professional Socialization in STEM Academia and its Gendered Impact on Creativity and Innovation

Professional Socialization in STEM Academia and its Gendered Impact on Creativity and Innovation

Gloria-Sophia Warmuth (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria) and Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6142-4.ch008
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The chapter focuses on internal professionalization processes in STEM academia and their impact on creativity and innovation capacity. The discussion looks at how internal structures and value systems in STEM academia are used to shape the professional self-understanding of members. Exemplified by a higher education institution in the field of science, engineering, technology and math we show how gendered exclusion and inclusion is established structurally. Restrictive and rigid professional scripts and role expectations are identified as the main obstacles to greater potentials for creativity and innovation.
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Professional Socialization In Stem Organizations

When new staff members join an organization, they are immediately confronted by its internal structures and value systems. The subsequent process of professional socialization requires them to internalize the particular values, norms and symbols of the work culture (Hanappi-Egger, 2004; Hanappi-Egger & Warmuth, 2010) in order to become an accepted expert in the field. In general, each occupation has its own set of norms, values, characteristics and attitudes that are expected of its members (Schein, 1978). Those not conforming to the professional culture are discarded at an early stage of their career (Dryburgh, 1999), either by exclusion or self-exclusion2 (see also Hanappi-Egger, 2012a for the example of female IT specialists who abandon their chosen professions). Newcomers who wish to remain in an organization must demonstrate their sense of belongingness to the professional culture and their close identification with it. McIlwee and Robinson (1992) claim that conformity is achieved both through interaction and impression management (which describes the appearance of conformity to organizational culture rather than actual conformity). It is assumed that people whose personal value systems closely accord with organizational values can more easily adapt than those whose value systems are at variance. To act against one’s self-understanding clearly entails costs in terms of energy and effort.

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