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Only 3 Options for Women Researchers, says Senior Lecturer

Originally published 12 March 2002


“Female academics who want to succeed as researchers have just three choices: stay single, marry a colleague in the same field or work smarter,” says Dr Christina Hughes, Senior Lecturer in the University of Warwick’s Department of Continuing education and Co-Chair of the new Gender and Education Association.

Dr Hughes feels that the main problems women face is exclusion or being reduced to informal research networks and hierarchies. Many men particularly benefit from being able to build informal and formal networks of contacts and positions of hierarchies without the more intense distractions or even periods of disruption that women wishing to spend at least some time focussing on family face. The only ways until now of overcoming these problems have been to stay single or, if one wanted both family and career, to buy into constant contact with those networks by marrying a colleague in the same field.

Dr Hughes believes a pattern is emerging where, to paraphrase the old cliché “ever the bridesmaid never the bride”, women researchers are “ever the research assistant never the principal investigator”. Dr Hughes feels that “we are in danger of creating a vast female research labour force who are blocked from progressing in a research career and kept in a cycle of insecurity as they struggle to find funding almost every year to keep them in even these lowly positions.”

Dr Hughes and her colleagues feel that women researchers deserve more choices than that and have formed a new Gender and Education Association to help women “work smarter” than their male colleagues so that they keep a level playing field with male colleagues without resorting to the drastic life style choices mentioned earlier in this release.

The new Gender and Education Association had its Inaugural Day Conference at the University of North London on 8th March and will begin its work to support women researchers with a Career Development Seminar held jointly with the Women's Studies Network and the Women in Higher Education Network on Tuesday, 19 March 2002 at the University of Warwick.

That seminar will take forward the message that women can work smarter to maintain that level playing field with male colleagues. The event will give women help in maximising their impact when seeking research grants, publishing their work in learned journals, and when trying to interest the media in their research. Dr Christina Hughes will give a seminar which will encourage women to be even more selective and focussed than men on which publications they target when seeking to get research into print as part of a “work smarter” strategy.

For further details please contact:
Dr Christina Hughes, Gender and Education Association
Dept of Continuing Education, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 2247
c.l.hughes@warwick.ac.uk or gea@warwick.ac.uk