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Precarity of post doctorate career breaks: does gender matter?

Jones, K. ORCID: (2023) Precarity of post doctorate career breaks: does gender matter? Studies in Higher Education, 48 (10). pp. 1576-1594. ISSN 1470-174X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2023.2245849


Against a background of Bologna process goals to improve employment prospects for PhD graduates, and the crisis of precarious employment conditions and prospects afflicting postdoctoral researchers – hitherto postdocs, the OECD (2021) called for research into postdoctoral careers and the precarity phenomenon. This paper responds by giving attention to career breaks as these represent a prevalent but under researched aspect of postdoc precarity in the contemporary academic labour market. Utilizing a substantial international mixed-method dataset with a sample of 950 postdocs, the study examined experiences and perceptions of the professional and personal implications of academic career breaks. Results reveal significant differences between males and females in key areas: maternity was the main reason for females’ career breaks, and redundancy/end of contract for males. Females resumed employment more with the same employer and males with a different employer. Support surrounding career breaks was mixed, largely inadequate, but not associated with gender. Perceptions of career breaks differed significantly across groups of postdocs that previously experienced a career break, those on a career break, and postdocs that had never had a career break. The latter two groups perceived negative career outcomes and positive personal outcomes more than postdocs who had previously had a career break, however, significant gender differences indicate females were more negative about the personal implications of career breaks. Discussion of the findings concludes that under neoliberalism postdocs represent a growing lumpen proletariat, leading to recommendations for policy, practice and further research into gender, precarity and postdoctoral careers.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:112842
Uncontrolled Keywords:Post doctorate, careers, precarity, higher education, career breaks, gender
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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