Petra Ahrens

Guest Professor

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About Petra Ahrens

In my research, I focus on gender policies and politics in the European Union and its institutions, transnational civil society organisations, participatory democracy, social politics, political strategies like gender mainstreaming, and gender equality in Germany.

Since January 2019, I am Guest Professor at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Antwerp where I also held a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie-Fellowship from 2017 to 2018 (DemocInChange; see details below). Simultaneously, I am Senior Researcher in the research project EUGenDem ( I received my PhD from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in 2014, where I was assistant professor at the Department of Social Sciences from 2014 to 2016. I have also worked as free-lance policy consultant for public administration on gender equality and gender mainstreaming since 2006.

As regards teaching, I am committed to a holistic understanding of guided learning, which includes next to lectures and seminars also other formats like blended learning and other contexts such as academic writing coaching.

Last but not least, I am co-editor of the European Journal of Politics and Gender ( and the German feminist journal Femina Politica (


Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship 2017-2018

„Effects of Institutional Change on Participatory Democracy and the Involvement of Civil Society Organisations” (DemocInChange)

Through the EU research program Horizon 2020, I was awarded a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship titled „Effects of Institutional Change on Participatory Democracy and the Involvement of Civil Society Organisations” (DemocInChange). I researched how the de- and re-institutionalization of gender+ equality structures on the supranational EU level influenced the chances of “equality CSOs” in participating in policy-making. I studied inequalities in organisations and exclusionary practices of EU policy-making by combining research on social movements, participatory democracy and intersectionality.

The EU aims at becoming more democratic and - according to the 2017 ‘White Paper The future of Europe – Reflections and scenarios for the EU27 by 2025’ – also “must move quicker to interact with citizens”. One important element in this regard is the constructive collaboration of EU institutions with civil society organisations as voice of citizen interests. So far, research often looked at either formal provisions by EU institutions or mobilization strategies by CSOs, while the formal and informal relationships between CSOs and EU institutions received less attention. The findings from this project started filling this crucial gap and provide good resources for all actors interested in the democratic governance of the European Union. The research provides a better understanding of the linkages between equality CSOs and EU institutions, the impact of the Commission on CSOs networks and their lobbying strategies and the role of the European Parliament in involving CSOs.

The research project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 702134.



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