Home 9 Quaranta Lectures 9 Seminar 2024 – Linkova

On the liminality of researcher-activist: Academic care, neoliberal academy and the value of gender equality

SEMINAR 2024, February 27 – In honour of Giancarlo Quaranta


Marcela Linková PhD is the head of the Centre for Gender and Science at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on the sociology of gendered organisations and institutional change, gender-based violence in academia, governance of research, and public policies for gender equality in R&I. Marcela is the Member State Co-Chair of the ERA Forum subgroup on inclusive gender equality and coordinates Horizon Europe project GENDERACTIONplus. Previously, she has participated in multiple Horizon 2020 projects including UniSAFE focused on gender-based violence in academia.

The contemporary academia, and academic relations and practices more broadly, are frequently seen as driven by an individualising neoliberal ethic (Linková et al. 2023; Loveday 2018) and this contributes to reinforcing existing inequalities and creating new ones along gender and other lines of inequality. In terms of affective experience, on the one hand, this creates of a “culture of boasting” (Billig 2013, 24) and obsession of WoS metrics (Linková 2014), on the other it is predicated on “exhaustion, stress, overload, insomnia, anxiety, shame, aggression, hurt, guilt … out-of-placeness, fraudulence, and fear of exposure within the contemporary academy” (Gill 2009, 232). Humans in this system are entangled in the makings of “schizophrenic university” (Shore 2010), with multiple and contradictory functions.

Increasingly, some of these functions involve promoting gender equality through gender equality plans, addressing gender-based violence; and increasingly, too, this also entails a focus on intersectionality and diversity. These functions and their value orientations of social justice, solidarity and care are often in direct opposition to the neoliberal ethos built on the logic of choice (Mol 2008) and carelessness (Lynch 2010, 2022; Lynch et al., 2012, 2020).

In her talk at the online seminar, Marcela Linková explored some of the tensions and challenges in advancing social justice causes with gender inequity in Research and Innovation at the centre. She examined the liminal embodiment of the researcher-advocate in the system and the opportunities for creating opposition and spaces for action through collaboration, mutual support and community building.

Linková’s talk was based primarily on her own experience of a longtime advocate for gender equality with advisory and expert positions at the Czech and EU levels, navigating and researching the transformation of the research and innovation governance system in the Czech Republic since their launch in approximately 2004.

The recording of the seminar