YEAR 2020

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New research group on digitization and gender inequality at LIfBi


As of January, a new junior research group has started work at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi). The independent Emmy Noether Junior Research Group "GenDiT - Gender in the Age of Digitization and Technological Change", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), aims to analyze the links between digitization, technological change and gender inequalities in the education system and the labor market. The group is led by Dr. Malte Reichelt, who obtained the funding and moved from New York University Abu Dhabi to LIfBi at the beginning of the year.

Malte Reichelt (photo: Evamaria Schleicher) was Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Global Network Assistant Professor at New York University (NYU) until the end of 2022. Since March 2013, he has been a research fellow at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Germany, and since January 2023, he is Head of the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group at LIfBi. 

Technological change and digitization are leading to significant changes in modern societies. The ever-advancing use of computers or the digital transformation of the industrial sector have the potential to reduce long-standing gender inequalities in the education system and the labor market. However, the movement towards gender equity in the labor market has considerably slowed down and surprisingly, it seems that digitization even contributes to gender inequality.

Focus on digitization and social inequality

Against this backdrop, the research group GenDiT is analyzing how and under what conditions digitization affects gender inequality. The aim is to uncover and understand larger theoretical connections that exist between structural changes such as digitization and social inequality in education, choice of study, employment and pay. In particular, the role of organizations and institutions –for example, schools or companies– is examined.

"I am part of a generation that experienced first-hand the rapid spread of computers and smartphones in their childhood and teenage years, as well as the beginning of the digital transformation in the world of work," says Reichelt, outlining his research motivation. "I have long been fascinated by how the potential of digitization and its impact on society can be made more equitable. LIfBi offers an excellent environment to analyze this empirically. I look forward to working with my research group to expand our knowledge of change in society."

Recent and historical data provide information

For their analyses, the researchers draw on longitudinal data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), administrative data from the Integrated Employment Biographies (IEB), and experimental data collection. The latter consists of computer-assisted text analysis of job vacancy ads from newspaper archives in order to trace the digital transformation in working life. Over the next six years, specific research projects are planned in the areas of "Digitization and Gender Inequality in the Education System," "Gender Inequality in Access to Digital Jobs," and "Gender Inequality and Power Relations in Digital Organizations."

The Emmy Noether Junior Research Group is funded by the DFG with 1.4 million euros for a period of six years and is located at LIfBi in Bamberg. Cooperations with the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the Otto Friedrich University Bamberg as well as the University of California Irvine, the University of Haifa, Sciences Po in Paris and New York University are planned.

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