HomeWomen in Educated Elites of Pre-Socialist and Early Socialist East Central European Societies

HomeWomen in Educated Elites of Pre-Socialist and Early Socialist East Central European Societies

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Published on Thursday, May 31, 2012


The two and a half day workshop will take place at the European Institute of Geneva University in October 2012. The exact dates will be announced in early July 2012. The official language of the workshop will be English. Interested scholars are asked to submit a paper proposal (not more than 750 words) to the organisers (Victor Karady : karadyv@gmail.com; Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist : nat.sigrist@gmail.com) by 10 June 2012.



The opening up to modernity of East Central Europe since the late 19th century was marked – among other things – by a triple process generating structural transformations of established post-feudal societies and affecting often radically the status of women.

Various movements of ’national awakening’ and nation-building lead to the foundation of nation states during the decades 1878-1918 on territories of the former Ottoman, Russian and Habsburg empires. These societies, organised mostly in Western type parliamentary states (except for the later Soviet one), complied more or less reticently with Western patterns of socio-political modernization and cultural homogeneization, including or leading to the abolition of feudal privileges. Modern nation states accomplished progressively the emancipation of hitherto socially bonded, dependent or dominated societal clusters (like serfs, Jews, ethnic marginals) among them, lately, women. The construction of modern schooling provision was an integral part of the modernization process, where the girls could usually take an ever growing share.

These transformations were concomitant with or accompanied by the birth of laissez-faire capitalism and the growth of new middle class clusters in charge of a number of intellectual services in the administration, the management of industrial, financial or trading entreprises, health care, law, public transportation, education, artistic activities. The ensuing socio-professional restratification of societies concerned was conducive to the emergence of the intelligentsia – a new stratum drawing its social and professional legitimacy from certified competences, its educational ’capital’. In some of its sectors – medicine, teaching, the creative and performing arts, etc. – women also started to be admitted since the late 19th century, though most of these markets of intellectual services remained for long largely dominated by male professionals. 

Due to post-feudal conditions of competition for social standing, positions of influence and prestige, hitherto unknown forms of inequalities appeared in the very process of accumulation of political, economic, professional, cultural an educational assets henceforth necessary for the access to the elites. Female professionals, though they could rarely achieve advanced careers in the ruling elites in the old regime, so much so that they often encountered even various forms of public rejection and discrimination on intellectual markets, significantly participated in the framing of the way of life of the new middle class.

We are planning a comprehensive publication in English reporting on women in modern educated elites, that is in professional groups the social position of which was grounded above all in their educational credentials. The project would attract studies on possibly every East Central European society during the inter-war years, not excluding post-1945 and pre-1919 developments. This call for papers may appeal to all scholars – whether historians proper or sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, educationalists with historical interests – engaged in research on gender based inequalities, disparities and diversities in higher education and in the intelligentsia at large.

The authors of the papers selected for the publication will be invited to an international conference in Geneva.


Herewith please find a (far from exclusive) roster of the main topical problem areas upon which the papers could preferentially draw :

(1)  The historical progress of the schooling of girls and boys in various countries. A (possibly comparative) overview of the development of educational investments granted to girls and boys in primary, secondary and higher education;

(2)  The impact of the structure of the educational market on women’s   education : the historical development of schooling reserved for women and the progress of coeducation as well as the general accessibility of the schooling provision for girls on different levels. Preferential or discriminative admission policies of educational authorities. Size, quality and outreach of school networks for girls.

(3)  The same with reference to father’s profession (social selection of pupils and students), mother tongue, ethnicity, birth place, urbanization, residential and regional origins and ties of pupils and students concerned.

(4)  Historical patterns of socio-professional mobility via education for men and women compared: differential strategies and attitudes following religious persuasion, family size, degrees of secularization, intellectual capital of the family, professional groups, economic standing, etc. 

(5)  Differential options for educational tracks and study branches for men and women with completed secondary education (medicine, law, arts and sciences, technical, artistic and other vocational studies).

(6)  Qualitative educational inequalities and discrepancies between boys and girls concerned in their schooling trajectories: differences of academic performances, degrees and qualifications acquired, marks obtained in different study subjects (like at graduation from secondary schools), age of graduation, frequency of dropping out, foreign languages known, other certified skills.

(7)   Differential uses of certified educational assets in professional careers : Male and female graduates in the free professions, civil service, politics, public industries, private intellectual employment (trade, banking, industries, agriculture, transportation, etc.) and in the artistic professions, especially in the latest periods of the pre-socialist old regime and in early communism.

(8)  Men and women intellectuals in ’reputational elites’ – people of fame: those cited in national biographies and encyclopedias, laureates of public distinctions for intellectual accomplishments (prizes, medals, titles, etc.), staff of universities and institutions of higher education, members of national academies, learned societies or/and public scholarly agencies (major libraries, museums, archives, research centers, etc.).

(9)  Measures and indicators of possibly differential intellectual creativity between men and women and its recognition within the same professional clusters : number and quality of scientific, scholarly or artistic publications and other performances, invitations and careers abroad, participation in the management of professional journals, membership in boards of learned societies and  professional agencies.

(10) Women professionals as affected by public policies of education and intellectual promotion : numerus clausus, segregation and discrimination in the educational market, differential availability of grants, scholarships or academic positions, etc.,  variation of tuition fees, schooling facilities or disabilities.

The two and a half day workshop will take place at the European Institute of Geneva University in October 2012. The exact dates will be announced in early July 2012. The official language of the workshop will be English.

To submit

Interested scholars are asked to submit a paper proposal (not more than 750 words) to the organisers

  by 10 June 2012

  • Victor Karady (karadyv@gmail.com), Professor, History Department, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
  • Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist (nat.sigrist@gmail.com), Fellow, Flemish Academic Center, Belgian Academy for Arts and Sciences, Brussels, Belgium

All those who responded to the call for papers will be notified of acceptance of their abstracts by early July 2012.

In order to operate a fair and coherent choice of the proposals, submitted abstracts should underline the connections between the workshop themes and the research interests of the speakers as well as the originality and the relevance of their approach.

The papers to be presented at the conference - of about 25'000 characters -, are expected to be sent to the organisers by 15. September 2012, so as to allow their pre-distribution and the preparation of the debates via discussants.

The contributions will be distributed as working papers to all the workshop participants some weeks prior to the workshop.

Oral presentations (30 minutes) should be based on the submitted paper, but limited to the particularly relevant problems. A detailed discussion will follow each presentation (30 minutes).

A volume based on the reviewed and completed workshop papers will be published. The selection of papers to be included in this collective volume will depend on their form and quality.

Scientific coordinators

  • Victor Karady (karadyv@gmail.com)
    History Department
    Central European University
  • Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist (nat.sigrist@gmail.com)
    Flemish Academic Center
    Belgian Academy for Arts and Sciences


  • Geneva, Switzerland


  • Sunday, June 10, 2012


  • femmes, élites, éducation, professions, Europe de l'est, Europe centrale


  • Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist
    courriel : nat [dot] sigrist [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Victor Karady
    courriel : karadyv [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Natalia Tikhonov Sigrist
    courriel : nat [dot] sigrist [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Women in Educated Elites of Pre-Socialist and Early Socialist East Central European Societies », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, May 31, 2012, https://doi.org/10.58079/l3k

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