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A kind of currency or just a quiet pride? Exploring career journeys, academic prestige and impact of senior teaching fellowships for women in HE

McCullagh, C. (2022) A kind of currency or just a quiet pride? Exploring career journeys, academic prestige and impact of senior teaching fellowships for women in HE. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00108722


The persistent gender gap in higher education, in leadership and salary terms, is wellestablished in the literature and often discussed using a pipeline metaphor, for example, addressing a leaky pipeline or building the pipeline. Mid-career women in higher education represent the pipeline, and yet research has identified that women frequently hold teaching and administrative roles which lack prestige and status compared to research activity and are therefore held back in their career progression. This study makes an original contribution to knowledge by exploring the lesser-heard voices of mid-career women within a researchintensive university who have achieved senior categories of teaching fellowships for their achievements in teaching. It asks whether the value now being placed on teaching in a neoliberal management climate is offering new opportunities for those who champion teaching to accrue academic prestige in a gendered prestige economy in higher education. The study adopted a feminist, interpretivist, case study approach, informed by standpoint theory, to explore the career experiences of fifteen mid-career women who champion teaching within one higher education institution in England. Insider research alongside visual and narrative methods in the form of drawn career journey maps and narrative interviews resulted in a set of richly contextualised data. Data were analysed using a thematic, iterative approach, drawing on Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step framework. The study confirms previous findings from research about the existence of a masculinised culture and prestige economy in higher education which can hinder women’s career progression. A new finding is that women do gain prestige by achieving senior categories of teaching fellowships, with prestige experienced in various ways, which can also result in a sense of increased career capital. Overall, the findings revealed that multiple factors shaped the participants’ career journeys and ambitions. These included the importance of achieving a balance between family and work responsibilities, feeling valued and being of value in their teaching roles and having a sense of belonging within the institution. The findings have implications for policy makers in senior management, human resources, and academic development teams to ensure inclusive routes for reward and recognition are provided for staff, often women, who champion teaching excellence. The study concludes with recommendations for further research.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Jones, K. and Foley, C.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:108722


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