Photo of Dr Gemma Ahearne

Dr Gemma Ahearne PhD

Senior Lecturer Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology


Personal Statement

I am a feminist criminologist, a teacher, and a storyteller. I am passionate about Dyslexic thinking, innovation in teaching and learning, cross-faculty working, sustainability, and the student experience. I want to do things differently.

I am the Faculty Education Project Lead for Community and Belonging. As part of this role I am facilitating a reverse mentoring scheme feeding into strategic change projects: Curriculum Project and Transforming Student Success Project.

At university-level, I am the Lead for the Curriculum Project Interdisciplinarity Working Group and the Sustainability Working Group. I am a member of the Curriculum Project Delivery Group. These roles are working with Professor Lisa Anderson and the Strategic Change team. I am committed to leadership within higher education and empowering colleagues through supportive growth.

You can read more about the Curriculum Project here:

I entered higher education via a non-traditional trajectory, dropping out of university the first time around (University of Liverpool!). This has given me a strong commitment to the student experience, and providing a safe, inclusive and welcoming teaching space for students. I have a strong commitment to widening participation and creating a more inclusive and welcoming academia. I place great value on lived experience and different ways of producing and sharing knowledge. As part of my commitment to widening participation I work as a WP mentor; deliver a summer school session; a school outreach session (Yr12 and Y13); a lecture for the Liverpool Scholars' Programme; Go Higher outreach; Return to Learn session; and have also delivered a lecture for the Go Higher Access Programme. I am also a tutor for Realising Opportunities at the University of Liverpool. As someone from a socio-economically deprived background this work is very important to me.

I am keen to share best practice and pedagogical innovations with colleagues across the university and beyond. I sit on the ULTRA panel and I also act as an ULTRA mentor to ensure that there is quality assurance on the award of teaching accreditation across the university.

I lead an alternative dissertation capstone module SOCI347 Creative Consult: Dissertation by Portfolio, on which students work cross-faculty with Engineering students MECH327. Students are engaged with enquiry-based active learning that aligns with all 7 hallmarks of the Liverpool Curriculum Framework. You can watch a video about the Creative Consultants by clicking on the publications tab.

I also run a large (168 students in 22/23) module called SOCI349 Crime, Justice and the Sex Industry. You can read about this by clicking the publications tab.

My doctorate focused on the experiences of women sex workers in prison and I have 22 years experience of the sex industry. My interests centre around processes of vulnerability and exploitation, and in particular, contested perceptions of vulnerability. In a recently published chapter I critique the role of women's centres who facilitate the punishment of women thus effectively being their 'sisters' keepers' within the widening web of governmentality. This speaks to the importance of feminist criminologists and feminist legal scholars to interrogate the spectrum of decarceration where harms might be displaced to community settings and alternative spaces.

In Dec 2023 I have been awarded a BBSRC and ESRC Impact Acceleration Account grant for the amount of £22,985 with Dr John Tulloch: The analysis of solicitors’ records to contextualise events surrounding dog bites and attacks. We have a postdoc Dr James Oxley. We are also preparing a large grant bid investigating the relationship between OCGs and dangerous dogs.

Much of my work focuses on stigma and displaced and dispersed harms. I will continue to develop multidisciplinary responses with colleagues internationally.

Being committed to the development of scholarship in my area I regularly review for eleven journals, book publishers and I serve on the editorial board for Palgrave Advances in Sex Work Studies.

I have recently reviewed manuscripts for Policy Press and Amsterdam University Press.

I am committed to developing arts-based practice and collaborations, having worked with FACT Liverpool, Bloc Projects Sheffield and Tate Liverpool through the Tate Exchange programme.

I am proud to be Dyslexic: expect creative ideas and creative spelling.

Prizes or Honours

  • Learning and Teaching Fellowship (University of Liverpool, 2023)
  • Greatest Contribution to the Student Experience (University of Liverpool Staff Awards, 2023)
  • Commended for Innovation of the Year (University of Liverpool Staff Awards, 2023)
  • Teacher of the Year (HSS) (Liverpool Guild of Students, 2023)
  • Commended for Outstanding Support (Liverpool Guild of Students, 2023)
  • Senior Fellow (Advance HE, 2022)
  • Lecturer of the Year (University of Liverpool, 2022)
  • British Society of Criminology Women, Crime and Criminal Justice Network Paper Prize 2022 (British Society of Criminology, 2022)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Higher Education Academy, 2022)
  • Tate Exchange (University of Liverpool, 2022)
  • Learning and Teaching Fellowship (University of Liverpool, 2021)
  • Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Award (University of Liverpool, 2021)
  • Nomination for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year (Times Higher Education, 2021)
  • Nomination for The Innovator Award (Practical Pedagogy Conference University of Lincoln, 2021)
  • Visiting Fellow (University of Leeds, 2019)
  • Ph.D Scholarship (Centre of Applied Social Research, Leeds Beckett University, 2013)
  • Best in Class Sociology BA (Hons) (Liverpool john Moores University, 2012)
  • David McEvoy Prize for Sociology (Liverpool John Moores University, 2012)