Prestige in Academia: A Glance at the Gender Distribution

Christian Poulsen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The acquiring of prestige is essential for succeeding at a career in academia. Also, the distribution of prestige between men and women may help explain the low representation of women in full professor positions. The author sets out to disprove the widely accepted notion that universities are based on a pure meritocratic system. The book compounds extensive survey studies of Swedish professors as well as focus group interviews with male and female professors.

It was found that women were not discriminated against in the transferring of merit to prestige. Additionally it was revealed that professors feel the status of the profession has decreased, but that female professors were more satisfied with the current status of professors. Not surprisingly it was also found that the prestige of Swedish professors is not based alone on merit. Instead relational factors play a role in the assignment of prestige.

Poulsen introduces the term ?consecrating moment? to explain the relational nature of assigning prestige. The concept refutes the widely accepted idea that a career in academia is made up of a long and continual flow of good performance. In doing so, it discusses sociology of education, feminist theory and the theory developed by Robert K. Merton and his followers.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Sociology
  • Hetzler, Antoinette, Supervisor
Award date2005 Dec 9
ISBN (Print)3-89821-512-1
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2005-12-09
Time: 10:15
Place: Pangeasalen Geocentrum Lunds Universitet
External reviewer(s)
Name: Siemienska, Renate
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University of Warsaw

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • Sociology
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Gender
  • Prestige
  • Status


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