Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Neglected' Mid-Career Women Need Recognition, Study Suggests

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

'Neglected' Mid-Career Women Need Recognition, Study Suggests

Article excerpt

Transition to 'make-or-break' stage for female scholars is a big challenge. Jack Grove reports

Mid-career female academics often feel "neglected" by their universities because they frequently receive little recognition, prestige or support for their work, a study suggests.

Based on interviews with 30 women who defined themselves as "mid-career" academics, a group of researchers at King's College London say that worries over the "make-or-break" period cause considerable job insecurity, with many women questioning their future in academia.

The loss of early career mentors as they move into more senior roles and concerns that they are relatively "high cost" compared with junior staff also contribute to anxieties in the workplace, the report says.

The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education-funded study, Mid-career Academic Women: Strategies, Choices and Motivation, attempted to capture the concerns of a large proportion of the academic workforce whose voice was seldom heard, said Camille Kandiko Howson, senior lecturer in higher education at King's Learning Institute, who led the project with Kelly Coate, the director of the institute.

"Studies often look at women at the top and how they got to that point, but do not address the vast majority of staff not at that level," said Dr Kandiko Howson. "They tend to focus on the exception, rather than the rule," she added.

Many of the women interviewed complained that their work yielded little reward or recognition when it led to better results for a department, whereas personal honours achieved by men, such as publication of journal papers, were celebrated, said Dr Kandiko Howson.

"Teaching undergraduates, looking after PhD students and general management often went unrewarded within institutions, and prestige is collected around a few individuals," she said.

Universities should consider introducing rewards for collective success, rather than just relying on "easy metrics", and introduce new job titles to better reflect the varied roles undertaken by mid-career women, the study says. …

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