I am Academy of Finland Research Fellow for my project “On the road to gender-sensitive parliaments? Gender Equality and Democratic Practices in the Finnish, German, and Polish Parliament Compared” (GSParls). For the project I will carry out fieldwork and qualitative interviews in the three countries and I will (1) develop a comparative methodological framework to study gender-sensitivity and democratic practices in parliaments and parties, (2) integrate norm diffusion theories into institutional and other approaches to reveal endogenous struggles within parliaments and map inter-parliamentary lesson learning, (3) focus on intersectional aspects to capture gender equality in its complexity, and, (4) engage and exchange research findings with parliamentary, political and administrative actors.
My research interests are gender policies and politics, political representation, party politics and democracy. I have mainly focused on the European Union and its institutions, transnational civil society organisations, participatory democracy, social politics, political strategies like gender mainstreaming, and gender equality in Germany.
- Marie-Sklodowska-Curie-Postdoc-Fellow „Effects of Institutional Change on Participatory Democracy and the Involvement of Civil Society Organisations“ (DemocInChange) at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, granted by EU Horizon 2020
- co-founding editor of the European Journal of Politics and Gender (EJPG)
- doctoral scholarship from the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villigst e.V. (2007-2010)
Main positions of trust
Politics and Gender
Formal and informal Institutions
Civil Society Organisations
I received my PhD in Sociology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 2014 with the dissertation 'The Sound of Silence – Institutionalizing Gender Equality Policy in the European Union'. From 2014 to 2016, I was assistant professor on Sociology of Work and Gender relations at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. I held a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie-Fellowship titled „Effects of Institutional Change on Participatory Democracy and the Involvement of Civil Society Organisations” (DemocInChange, 2017-2018) and was Guest Professor for Comparative Politics and for Gender and Diversity from 2018-2019 at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Antwerp. I was also Guest Professor for Gender and Diversity at the Free University Berlin, Germany, in 2021. From 2019 to 2021, I was Senior Researcher in the ERC funded research project „Gender, party politics and democracy in Europe: A study of European Parliament’s party groups” (EUGenDem).
I also work as free-lance policy consultant for public administration on gender equality and gender mainstreaming since 2006, for instance for the 'Mayor and Senator for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues Berlin (2008-2009), the 'Agency for Gender Equality within the ESF' (2009-2014), and subcontracted for the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) (2014; 2017-2019).
- Ahrens, Petra, and Alison Woodward. 2021. Adjusting venues and voices: populist and right-wing parties, the European Parliament and civil society equality organizations 2014–2019, European Politics and Society, 22(4): 486-502.
- Ahrens, Petra, Katja Chmilewski, Sabine Lang, and Birgit Sauer. 2020: Gender Equality in Politics – Implementing Party Quotas in Germany and Austria . Cham: Springer International.
- Ahrens, Petra, and Lise Rolandsen Agustín. 2019. Gendering the European Parliament: Structures, Policies, and Practices. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
- Ahrens, Petra, and Anna van der Vleuten. 2019. Fish Fingers and Measles? Assessing Complex Gender Equality in the Scenarios for the Future of Europe. Journal of Common Market Studies.
- Ahrens, Petra. 2019. Birth, life and death of policy instruments: 35 years of EU gender equality policy programs. West European Politics 42(1): 45-66.
- Ahrens, Petra. 2018. Actors, Institutions, and the Making of EU Gender Equality Programs . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Ahrens, Petra. 2016. The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the EP – Taking Advantage of Institutional Power Play. Parliamentary Affairs 69(4): 778-193.