The life histories of female academics and the impact on career decisions (Carol Costello)

12:15pm - 1:45pm / Thursday 24th January 2019 / Venue: Walbank Lecture Theatre, Abercromby SQ (south)
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Centre for Higher Education Studies
  • Admission: Free. Please contact hlcevent@liverpool.ac.uk to register your interest.
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This qualitative study, based in the University of Liverpool (UoL), looked at the life histories of 19 women working in two subject area groupings – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) and Allied Health/non-clinical Medical Education – to explore how their experiences guided and impacted on their opportunities for career progression.

Analysis focused on what had led to the decisions they took about their careers, particularly their prospects for academic promotion. Bourdieu’s concepts of capital, field and habitus provided insight into the cultural norms and conventions of the social spaces the women inhabited, the effect these had on their dispositions and outlooks and the resources they were able to develop and use for the benefit of their careers.

The research suggests that experiences which had an impact on career can be categorised in two ways – ‘Helpers’ and ‘Hinderers’. Both sets of women were hindered by the gendered expectations visible in the University – taking up more of the teaching, student support and admin work – which restricted the type and volume of capital they could get to play the academic promotion game or the time it took to get this. Despite this, many of the women were helped by their self-assured characters to further their careers with persistence or in their own way, not necessarily according to the traditional academic promotion route. Positive experiences of support and mentoring facilitated by the University led to increased social capital and enabled the women to deal with experiences of patriarchy and sexism they faced.

Refreshments will be available from 12.15pm and the seminar will start at 12.30pm. There will be time for discussion after the seminar for those who are able to stay.