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Glass ceilings and stone floors: an intersectional approach to challenges UK geographers face across the career lifecycle

Maddrell, A., Thomas, N. and Wyse, S. (2019) Glass ceilings and stone floors: an intersectional approach to challenges UK geographers face across the career lifecycle. Geografiska Annaler: Series B Human Geography, 101 (1). pp. 7-20. ISSN 1468-0467

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/04353684.2018.1555670


While there has been a steady growth of women working in geography in UK universities since the mid-Twentieth Century, there are continuing challenges in gendered career progression and professional interactions within the contemporary discipline. These range from problems associated with employment precarity and inflexible work practices, life choices and obligations in the domestic arena, discrimination and bullying, to less tangible gendered norms and cultures in the workplace. This paper discusses these challenges and inequalities in the light of a brief overview of sector-wide statistical data on appointments by gender and career-stage and with the analysis of some 250 in-depth responses to a nationwide qualitative survey of gender and career experience in UK universities (Maddrell et al 2016). While the term ‘glass ceiling’ still has significant relevance, findings show a more complicated picture which also includes ‘stone floors’ and stumbling blocks. It also shows how career experience varies by institution and individual: challenges in career progression can be compounded by institutional protocols and intersectional factors, and vary with career stage. The intersection of early-career job precarity, reproductive decisions and associated family responsibilities were particularly highlighted in this study. These ‘pinch points’ in career development disproportionately affect, but are not limited to, female early career scholars. Early career progress may be stalled in mid-career in multi-staged promotional systems such as that in UK universities; some from minorities face compound barriers; men with caring responsibilities may face prejudice. The paper concludes with suggested strategies for change, highlighting the importance of individual university and department protocols and practices; line manager and other senior colleagues’ attitudes and leadership in creating workplaces with an equality-driven ethos and structures that allow individuals to flourish.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:81267
Uncontrolled Keywords:gender, United Kingdom, higher education, geography, early-career, mid-career, caring, challenges, strategies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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