SE Lean in and freeze your eggs: The gendered nature of work in the 21st century

This course was taught in summer term 2019 as well as winter term 2020 at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt


In recent years successful business leaders suggested that all it takes for women to pursue a career is to “Lean in” (Sheryl Sandberg) and make it work. Moreover, businesses offer their female employees the chance to freeze their eggs, so that they could pursue family plans later on in their life. All of this suggests that there is an issue in balancing career, family life and gender norm expectations. The course Lean in and freeze your eggs: the gendered nature of work in the 21st century critically examines these norm expectations from an intersectional perspective. Looking at the nexus of gender, body, mind and work students will discuss to what extent the «ideal worker» still follows a normative masculine understanding.

As many studies have shown, the workplace is hallmarked by inequality regimes. Age, dis_ability, social class, ethnic background, and gender are just some of the social markers that potentially influence a person’s career trajectory, their perceived fitness for a job, as well as their general well-being. The course, therefore, examines the co-construction of job-gender-body-mind. It hereby critically examines the post-feminist narrative of “leaning in” and its manifold limits from an intersectional perspective.


Classes will be a mixture of individual and group exercise. Students will be asked to choose three texts from the syllabus. They should choose one, they like to present during class, and two which they like to summarize prior to class. The presentation as well as the summaries should comprise the key aspects of the chosen texts as well as some critical reflections. The presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes. The summaries should comprise 500-700 words and at least three points which the student would like to discuss in class (including a brief argument for each of these three discussion points).

Students are, furthermore, required to write an online-learning journal within a week of each session. The learning journal entries comprises of at least 400 words, reflecting the insights of each session. Students will be provided with some guiding questions for preparation of the texts and the learning journal.