Prior to joining the Department of Sociology at the University of Vienna in February 2020, Emma Dowling spent three years at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, where she was a Senior Researcher in the Sociology Department and a Senior Fellow with the Research Group on Post-Growth Societies. From 2012 to 2017 Emma Dowling was Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Middlesex University London, and from 2009 to 2012 she was Lecturer in Ethics, Governance and Accountability at Queen Mary, University of London.

Emma Dowling holds a Habilitation in Sociology from the University of Jena (2019), a PhD in Politics (2010) and a Master of Research in Social and Political Theory (2006) from Birkbeck, University of London She also holds an MSc in Global Ethics (2003) and a BA in International Studies with Politics (2003) from the University of Birmingham.

Emma Dowling is also a certified translator for English and German in the social sciences.

In 2009 Emma Dowling co-founded the NGO Clinic and has worked with social, environmental and economic justice organisations in Britain and internationally on organisational change and organisational strategy. She has served on the advisory boards of Jubilee Debt Campaign & Global Justice Now, and in 2002 she spent three months in Geneva working for the International Service for Human Rights. She is currently a founding and honorary board member of the Kompetenzzentrum für Alltagsökonomie and also serves as a reviewer for the Theodor Körner Fonds. In 2021 Emma Dowling was awarded the Käthe-Leichter Prize for outstanding research on gender, social reproduction, care and unpaid labour, sponsored by the Vienna Chamber of Labour.