Photo of Dr Gemma Ahearne

Dr Gemma Ahearne PhD

Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology


Personal Statement

I am passionate about Dyslexic thinking, innovation in teaching and learning, cross-faculty working, sustainability, social justice enterprise, entrepreneurial learning, and the student experience.

Having entered higher education via a non-traditional trajectory, I have a strong commitment to widening participation and creating a more inclusive and welcoming academia. I place value on lived experience and different ways of producing knowledge.

I hold several substantive leadership positions including Deputy Director of Education, Faculty Education Project Lead for Community and Belonging, NSS Lead for SSPC, Faculty Rep for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Working Group.

I have made a substantial contribution to teaching and learning across the department which included leading 5 modules. I am keen to share best practice and pedagogical innovations with colleagues across the university and internationally. I sit on the ULTRA panel 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 MECH327. Students are engaged with enquiry-based active learning that aligns with all 7 hallmarks of the Liverpool Curriculum Framework. I also run a large (168 students in 22/23) module called SOCI349 Crime, Justice and the Sex Industry.

My doctorate focused on the experiences of women sex workers in prison and I have 21 years experience of the sex industry. My interests centre around processes of vulnerability and exploitation. In my most recent published chapter (March 2023) 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 critical criminologists and feminist legal scholars to interrogate the spectrum of decarceration where harms might be displaced to community settings and alternative spaces.

Another current project is working with colleagues in medicine and disaster planning interrogating the health/power/criminality-nexus in relation to the pandemic. Much of my work focuses on stigma and moralising discourses resulting in marginalized peoples being constructed as the 'other'. 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, two book publishers and I serve on the editorial board for Palgrave Advances in Sex Work Studies.

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.

As part of my commitment to widening participation I work as a WP mentor; deliver a summer school session; a school outreach session (Yr 13); a lecture for the Liverpool Scholars Programme; and have also delivered a lecture for the Go Higher Access Programme. As someone from a socially deprived background, this work is very important to me.

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

Prizes or Honours

  • 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)