Posts By / Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

Announcing Bespoke Research Masterclasses – Women’s Academic Network

Dear women academics and PGR at Bournemouth University, we would like to inform you that the Women’s Academic Network (WAN) is offering two bespoke, qualitative Research Masterclasses for our members this academic year. We believe these Masterclasses will be helpful to, not only seasoned female academics wishing to polish up their methodological toolkits, but also of particular benefit to ECR and PGR colleagues, and others who are beginning to explore and develop methodologies expertise.

The first of our Masterclasses WAN Masterclass Focus Group Research will be held on November 10, 13.00-16.00 in BG-302  (the new Bournemouth Gateway Building on Lansdowne). This session will be facilitated by Dr Emma Pitchforth, Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow in Primary Care at the University of Exeter and our own Professor Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor of Reproductive Health Research.

Early announcement of second event. This will be an all-day Masterclass workshop on Psychosocial Visual Methods, to be held on 25 May 9.30-4.30, facilitated by Dr Lita Crociani-Windland, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Psycho-Social Studies at University of West of England (UWE), Bristol. Limited spaces. Look out for further announcements.

 WAN events:

We would like to remind anyone interested in attending these Masterclasses that while you do need to be a member of WAN to access this event, joining WAN is free, easy and beneficial to women scholars at our institution as well as being a unique initiative supported by UET. We have been described as ‘the most collegial network in BU’ for good reason. Join us and find out more about what we do to help our women colleagues.

WAN Convenors are:

Dr Joanne Mayoh

Dr Abier Hamidi

Dr Melsia Tomlin-Kraftner

Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

For more information on Masterclass bookings and WAN, please email:

Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a mother working in Academia? Your assistance is needed!

Are you a mother working in Academia? Do you know of mothers who are?

If so, then we need your assistance! The unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in great professional and personal challenges for all academics but particularly mothers. Working from home, home-schooling and periodical closure of schools, nurseries and other childcare settings is the ‘new normal’, which is why we are keen to hear your unique experiences.   

Our BU research team is passionate about developing interventions and strategies to support mother’s wellbeing, work life balance, and career progression. 

 Subsequently we are currently running a short online survey is to collect information to help further understand the experiences of mothers with young children (aged 0-16) working in paid positions in academia during the Covid-19 pandemic. We would love you to share your experience and support by completing the survey (if eligible) and/or sharing the link to the survey with your academic networks.  The survey should only take 10 minutes, and findings will inform interventions and strategies to support women’s wellbeing and work-life balance. 

We would like to invite you to take part if you meet the following inclusion criteria: 

You identify as a woman and as a mother; 

You have a child/children (that you identify as the mother of) living at home aged 0-16 years, 

You are employed in a paid academic position (including funded research degree/post-doctoral researcher). 

The link to the survey is  https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/exploring-the-experiences-of-mothers-with-young-children  

If you would like more information, please access the Participant Information Sheet. 

We do, however, acknowledge that the role of motherhood extends from the moment a woman sees or identifies herself as a mother and spans fully across the life course. Whilst women at all stages of motherhood have experienced vast challenges during this time (from having fertility treatment put on hold either permanently or temporarily, to being separated from their adult children) this survey will explore the experiences unique to those with young, dependent children, and the challenges associated with working in academic positions whilst caring and home-educating them.  

We would really appreciate if you could share this information with your academic networks as the more responses we receive the better for understanding the experiences of motherhood and academia in the pandemic.   

Thank you!

 Joanne Mayoh, Sukanya Ayatakshi Endow and Abier Hamidi

Research Leads

 

 

Announcing Wellness Retreat – the new WAN Wellbeing Strand

The last 18 months has been extraordinarily challenging for virtually everyone in the UK, for all the usual and known reasons of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the end of a ‘phoney war’ Brexit to full-blown Brexit realities, terrifying news about the global environmental crisis and endless awful news of social and civic conflict overseas.

In academia we have experienced both the same and different challenges, although what emerging research has taught us is that challenges impact particularly heavily on women academics.

In the Women’s Academic Network (WAN), as is well known, we offer a supportive forum of women academics and PGR, running successful events for our members, for all BU academics, reaching out to others beyond BU too. What we have not offered to-date is care for the mind and body, as caring for self is just as vital for academic success as Fusion is. So this fresh academic year we are rectifying that omission to offer a holistic, new and innovative strand promoting wellbeing in WAN.

Our first event is the WAN Wellness Retreat on the 8th Sept where we are offering a relaxing and rejuvenating morning retreat that will leave participants feeling great and provide them with all the tools and techniques to keep them feeling on top form. And as a special treat we have arranged a luscious goodie bag for participants to take home!

So, what’s in store?

We will start the wellness journey with breathwork and self-hypnosis for inner bliss by the internationally recognised Relational Life Therapist and bestselling co-author of Practical Zen for Health, Sarah Bladen.

Appreciating that daily life takes a toll on your back, we have invited Katanneh, a Pilates practitioner who specialises in Pilates for runners and rehabilitation of back, neck and shoulder injuries to work with you for a better back.

We will wrap up the day with our very own Dr Melsia Tomlin- Kräftner, WAN convenor. academic and in-house SportsBU yoga teacher, who will make sure participants leave the retreat feeling relaxed, revitalised and ready for a busy new academic year.

Spaces are limited and filling up fast. To join us on this complementary retreat email:

ahamidi@bournemouth.ac.uk

Date: 8th September

Time: 9:30am-1:00pm

Location: Student Hall, Talbot House

Bring your mat, a towel and see you there!

Dr Abier Hamidi, Dr MelsiaTomlin- Kräftner, Dr Jo Mayoh and Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

WAN Convenors

If you are not a WAN member but are interested in becoming one, please email at scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

The Women’s Academic Network Writing Retreats return!

Interrupted by the pandemic for a year and much missed, the Women’s Academic Network, are back in style to offer their popular, off campus Writing Retreats on July 5, 9.00-5.00.

Places are limited to WAN members, but the good news is that we still have places

This year we are trying out a new venue, new to WAN but not BU, this being the Captain’s Club Hotel, Wick Ferry, Christchurch (https://www.captainsclubhotel.com), where we have booked a large room and adjoining outdoor terrace.Parking, refreshments and buffet lunch included.

The programme

  • The WritingRetreat day begins at 9.00 and ends at 17.00
  • 1 hour workshop on  productive writing tips facilitated by convenors to get revved up into writing mode
  • Concentrated individual/small team writing time.
  • Lunchtime: buffet lunch, networking/socialising/riverside walk
  • Concentrated individual/small team writing time.
  • Concluding the day and feedback

Booking

To join us on this splendid day, we ask for 3 commitments from our participants:

  1. Feedback on the Writing Retreat Day for inclusion in WAN reports (anonymised)
  2. Follow-up feedback on the results and outcome of your academic writing endeavours for WAN reports to UET (anonymised).
  3. If asked, participation in future WAN research seminars based on your research and publications (definitely not anonymised!)

To book, please email Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree: scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk) to express your interest in participating.

Not yet a WAN member but want to be?

WAN is a non-corporate nexus of women academics and PGR at BU.

Email Sara (above) to express your interest for information. Once you join, WAN resources like the Retreat are available to you.

 

 

‘Doing Diversity Better: Interrogating ethnic and gender equality among BAME academics in HE’ April 22 14.00-16.00

The Women’s Academic Network (WAN) at BU are delighted to host this powerful and timely public engagement, open-to-all, Q&A Panel Discussion on one of the most important and urgent issues facing Higher Education (HE) in the UK today.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor John Vinney, will formally open the event which brings together four hugely eminent women academics of-colour, as well as a representative from the Bournemouth University Student Union (SUBU), who are all working within the broad areas of racialisation/ethnicisation and social inequalities. Each panellist will bring their own particular research expertise together with intellectual and experiential understandings to a grounded, candid and in-depth discussion of diversity in contemporary HE.

For more details and registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-academic-network-bournemouth-university-doing-diversity-better-tickets-146743055429

The panel context

UK HE is characterised by a homogeneity that fails to reflect social diversity, particularly in terms of ethnicity, gender and social class. These issues need to be located within a complex terrain of interwoven, intersectional experiences. The handy portmanteau term: ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) can also unhelpfully work to subsume entire groups who are otherwise subject to different levels of discrimination that may thereby remain less visible and therefore neglected. For example, a UCU 2019 report recorded that of a total number of professors in the UK, those self-identifying as ‘Black’ numbered just 85 individuals, and of these a mere 25 were women (Rollock 2019). While recent HESA (2020) data confirms that less than 1% of UK professors self-identify as Black. Unsurprisingly, Mizra (2019, p. 39) refers with horror to the overwhelming ‘hideous’ whiteness of academia. This alarming lack of representation among minority ethnic groups in HE not only exemplifies a dereliction of social justice but is demonstrably counterproductive to the academy across every area of scholarly endeavour, including inclusive pedagogy. The Race Equality Charter under AdvanceHE offers a valuable tool towards remedial action, but without direct debate, will towards and strategies for root-and-branch sector change, such charters are unlikely to create the necessary traction.

Our Panellists:

Professor Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice Professor of Education and Social Justice Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Education, University of Birmingham

Professor Ann Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial Studies, at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education

Dr Samantha Iwowo is the Programme Leader of MA Directing, Film and TV at BU.

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya is Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London

Ms Chiko Bwalya is the Education Vice President of SUBU.

We in WAN look forward to welcoming you.

Colleagues – please share among your networks. Students welcome

Faith Matters? New Book on Women and the Quest for Spiritual Authenticity

The quest for women’s authentic experience of spirituality and faith is a topic of broad and profound social significance. Since the first published, scholarly and excoriating critiques by women theologians in the nineteenth century we have had to rely on men’s accounts of what women should and do believe about mortal existence, its meaning and relevance, if any, to the unfathomable cosmos and the mysteries of creation (however the latter is understood). Women’s voices on questions of faith continue to be largely unheard across all faith communities, even though, as we know, organised religions, and other faith groups, rely so heavily upon women’s support and sheer hard work.

My new Routledge research monograph, Women of Faith and the Quest for Spiritual Authenticity makes its own special contribution to our understanding of these questions, as derived from 59 selected interviews with women in Malaysia and the UK concerning their experiences, beliefs and practices across the faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and diverse Pagan pathways. The accounts are often very personal and detailed in referring to both the micro (individual) and the macro (social) in terms of how faith and gender are negotiated in multicultural societies that struggle with the politics of diversity.

The gestation of this unfunded research monograph in terms of data gathering has felt longer than gestation for a whole family of reproducing female elephants, although time moved from protraction to contraction and acceleration. The Women’s Academic Network provided much needed ‘space’ for me to concentrate on the book proposal, which was accepted in record time owing to enthusiastic reviews. Thereafter, words flew onto the page and the book was completed in less than a year from start to finish, including time off recuperating with Covid-19.

This academic year I road-tested some of these Sociology of Religion ideas in the classroom and found that social science students really enjoyed and related to the discussions. So much for secular, materialistic youth! Furthermore, braced for some pain at the cruel hands of reviewers, given the innovative cross-faith, cross-cultural approach I took, I was astonished and thrilled at the wonderful reviews garnered from eminent scholars in the field, even before the book hit the shelves (later this month).

So, given little in the way of funding and a rather off-piste topic, what led me on? The book seriously began back in 2014 on my precious and hectic study leave in Malaysia busily engaged in a round of international teaching, training and public speaking engagements around Southeast Asia; plus busily gathering data with my co-researcher, for our condensed ethnography on Indigenous communities under ecological threat; plus gathering data for this book as well. It was a wonderful and unforgettable time, crazy of course but incredibly productive and happy.

Back in the UK I was helped by the generosity of so many people of both sexes, across different faith communities locally who introduced me to their circles where I found many women willing to talk to me, teach me and sometimes pray for me too (who says I don’t need it?!). This was a very personal journey in all ways and I have many to thank, not forgetting those BU colleagues managing the former Fusion Investment Fund for making my study leave possible!

I am now delighted to see that following the departure of our good friend, Reverend Dr. Bill Merrington, we now have a new woman chaplain, Reverend Ruth Wells. I feel that Ruth’s arrival at BU heralds new opportunities to reach out to women across diverse faiths and spiritualties and in so doing we are already planning collaboration to develop a series of public engagement, interfaith seminars. I look forward to working closely with Ruth on a continuing big issue of our time: feminism, faith, diversity and inclusion.

Qualitative comments: How the C-19 lockdown has affected the work-life balance of BU academics (Part 4)

Over the last two weeks we (Dr Luciana Esteves, Professor Ann Hemingway and I) have been giving the BU community a blog update of the findings from our opportunistic, cross-faculty survey focusing on the work-life balance of academics within and beyond BU. The previous blogs, Part 2 and Part 3 , have provided data detailing participant responses on the difficulties, or otherwise, of managing a work-life balance during the current pandemic lockdown.

Today’s update puts some additional qualitative flesh on the bones of statistical data. Thematic analysis of the qualitative comments provided some very important insights into the impact of lockdown restrictions; and here we found a broad consensus on certain issues, although these were strongly split between negative and positive viewpoints. It should be noted again that the gender balance of respondents was weighted heavily towards women academics over male respondents; and given these demographics a body of findings carried clear gendered overtones in the survey comments, in terms of the experienced ramifications of lockdown.

While some responses applied to both sexes any gender differences in survey responses appear to be strongly foregrounded by normative, but often overlooked, social constructions pertaining to gendered roles, which are being reinforced, or perhaps more likely, glaringly highlighted, by the material conditions under which lockdown is being enacted. The impact on the publication output of female academics during this period, compared to that of male colleagues, has already been highlighted in the Guardian newspaper, in addition to a recent article in the Times Higher Education regarding the marginalisation and muting of women STEM experts working on Covid-19, in comparison with a dominant male presence occupying the media stage, whether experts on the virus or otherwise.

Returning to the findings of the BU survey, in terms of positive aspects caused by lockdown academia, there were many responses referring to the benefits of working at home as a rule, rather than as a tolerated exception. One of the strongest points concerned the end of travel to the office. This was a significant plus for those commuting from some distance, while for others just the daily struggle of negotiating traffic, the ever-present anxiety of finding a vacant parking space (a particular concern on the Lansdowne campus), together with the exhausting morning rush of organising families prior to getting into work, was felt to be a real boon. Hours were magically freed up for many people and while the financial savings were appreciated, it was certainly not less than the warm feeling of being able to do something really positive in the fight against the climate crisis.

This new, novel freedom to work from home was managed in different ways and for several people could be fitted into a personally tailored and structured day; one with the added benefits of being not only better paced, but healthier as well in terms of improved nutrition, regular exercise, protection from Covid-19 exposure, reduced stress and physical wear-and-tear, as noted in these responses:

‘Freedom to engage with workload at times to suit me and my household. Online meetings were at first a positive as it highlighted to all that in future this could be a way forward instead of travelling up and down the M27 to attend meetings at our campus in xxx. Thus reducing our travelling costs, petrol consumption, stress free and reducing the carbon footprint on the environment.’

‘During lockdown I now do yoga and another form of exercise everyday- and my stress levels are reduced. I save money from the costs of the commute to work and exorbitant childcare costs.’

However, these positive accounts were balanced by those referring to high levels of stress and physical exhaustion, which for many, had been greatly exacerbated by lockdown. This was where gendered distinctions came strongly to the fore. Women academics were now suddenly out of the office outfit and back into the pinafore, overloaded by the typical gendered ‘double-shift’ of balancing waged work commitments and unpaid domestic labour and childcare – a clear case of ‘having none of it’ rather than the clichéd ‘having it all’, as this participant conveys:

‘Constantly feeling I am not doing enough work – knowing I just don’t have time to research. Feeling split between feeling I should be paying my young daughter attention but keep having to look at emails and sort admin etc. Dreading marking coming in as I will spend less time with my daughter while her dad works as a [key worker]. Feels like I am doing two jobs badly: bad mother, bad academic.’

In addition, the lockdown has brought considerable disruption to some professional programmes, where staff are working intensely long hours to mitigate the effects on students, with some struggling with inadequate home office equipment and incompatible or malfunctioning software.

‘Am working extremely long days (average of 12 to 16 hours) as both a mother and a worker. Support for student xxx [professional programme] and cover for colleagues while off sick has increased and requires a lot of personal emotional resources. Am having to deal with a lot of emotions masked as initial anger and frustration and to de-escalate this to support students. Little or no time for own research despite deadlines.’

Even in purely academic programmes the unprecedented strangeness of lockdown has greatly increased student anxiety, resulting in a flood of emails for advice and information, which needs continuous, laborious repetition and new channelling stratgies.

To sum up, this blog provides a limited snapshot of the richness of the qualitative data generated by the survey. While analysis and dissemination continues, a vital new question arises of what important lessons can be developed and applied arising from this very interesting data. While the general public are increasingly aware of the precarity that Covid-19 has unleashed globally, many would argue that these are merely an exacerbation of existing problems that have been around for a long time infecting societies and institutions therein, like academia. In some ways there has never been a better opportunity than now to address them comprehensively and courageously. The question now is how?

Please consider being a participant: the current survey is still open and we hope to gather more responses and which may reflect a greater gender balance from which to draw findings. If you are interested in participating please go to https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/impact-of-lockdown-on-academics. We would be pleased if you would also share the survey with your wider networks as is open to all academics wherever there are. Please note, if you want us to be able to identify that you are BU staff, you will need to mention BU in one of the open questions.

Negative student bias towards women and BAME academics – WAN panel discussion

A few weeks ago an FHSS colleague in the Women’s Academic Network (WAN) raised the issue of how women and BAME academics are generally negatively evaluated by students compared to White male academics. Most reasonable people would normally regard it as self-evident that the traditional, almost monastic concept of a gendered and ethnic homogeneity of scholars is far from the realities of a diverse and international campus. Yet it would seem old tropes remain embedded in unconscious assumptions regarding what constitutes a conventional academic. A quick look at Google stock images demonstrates this. Typing in the terms ‘lecturer’ and particularly ‘professor’ (given the common US usage of the term for most academic ranks), will throw up multiple images – but these mostly depict the same old stereotype. Reinforced time and again, these false projections of an academic norm are internalised by students and, no doubt, the general public, as the ‘genuine article’ – meaning that others that do not fit this image will be felt to be of lesser quality, being less legitimised and generally therefore more suspect. It is easy to move from this position to judging the worth of their educational (and research) endeavours as being inherently inferior.

Although this is not breaking news in terms of relevant research literature, the impact of how students perceive diversity among academic staff has yet to be properly tackled in an academic socio-political context, where great efforts are maintained to keep student customers happy. At the same time few academics can be unaware of the huge significance invested by universities in student evaluations, where in respect of the UK there is increasing pressure exerted on programme leaders and departments to achieve high NSS scores. At BU this pressure now embraces the mid-semester MUSE surveys in a tighter grip. Consequently if any BU students are subject to acting on unconscious bias towards diverse academics then there are now greater opportunities provided for this to be expressed in a punitive fashion.

It was therefore not surprising that our colleague’s point engendered a lively email discussion in WAN; and additionally very welcome offers from members to help to take this issue forward. In order to capture the moment, given this discussion was taking place precisely during the MUSE season, a panel discussion was rapidly set up. Invitations to attend the panel discussion were duly sent out across WAN and to other relevant individuals across faculties, beyond WAN, with leading roles in teaching & learning, monitoring and evaluation, together with diversity and equality agendas, including the UCU.

WAN makes a point of providing a respectful, inclusive and candid space for women academics and PGRs to feel heard and supported. This open-to-all panel event was in keeping with that aim. To an attentive audience attendees offered some deeply concerning accounts of conspicuous xenophobia, racism and misogyny via student evaluation feedback or in everyday encounters. Some of these abusive interactions were described as completely devastating, particularly as they were often expressed with impunity, where staff complaints about student offensiveness were regularly trivialised or ignored. Academics who had experienced or heard of such episodes felt that they were far from adequately protected by existing university regulations; and that a much more robust institutional response of zero tolerance was required to tackle pejorative discrimination in the student body. It is clear that unchecked, unfair judgements of academics based largely on characteristics of gender and ethnicity (although this may not exclude other facets as well), alongside growing institutional scrutiny of staff evaluations, serves to create a highly toxic and risky environment adding greatly to academic precarity and stress.

In order to explore this matter in the greater depth that it deserves, WAN will be hosting another and bigger open-to-all event in the New Year with a view to developing greater traction to move this extremely important issue forward in a constructive way. WAN may have done some heavy lifting here (we are aware of much other good work at BU on diversity and difference), but nonetheless there is a great opportunity for the academic community at BU to come together to ensure that on this issue alone misogyny, racism and xenophobia remains firmly outside of our institution.

If you are not a member of WAN but would like a personal invitation to the next event on this topic please email me (Sara Ashencaen Crabtree) on scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk

Likewise if you are not yet a member of WAN but would like to become one please get in contact.

Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

WAN convenor

 

 

WAN seminar: Working Women and Flexible Working

Dr Zoe Young is one of those rare creatures: an academic organisational sociologist and practising consultant to industry for the development of gender-equitable policies around the issue of flexible working. She has recently published an important research monograph, based on her PhD, exploring the experiences of flexible working among working mothers. In WAN we were very pleased that Dr Young accepted our invitation to share her interesting findings to an engaged, mixed audience of academics and professional services, with a lively discussion ensuing.

Flexible working is often mooted as the panacea for gender-based inequities in the workplace in terms of stalling and interrupted career progression and gender pay gaps. Moreover, this is primarily a gendered issue as flexible working is most likely to be requested by women, and this for the equally gendered reason that it is mostly women who are expected to adapt their working lives to the demands of childcare.

The conventional argument for flexible working (which is different from part-time working) is that this will help women to balance family and work time better and in consequence will overcome gendered career inequities. But does it?

Dr Young’s research suggests otherwise, pointing out that there are multiple variations of flexible working that could potentially be offered to employees from a currently very limited menu. Not only is the menu unimaginative and meanly populated, but while women have a legal right to request flexible work, companies are under no legal obligation to comply. Her research illustrates the unnecessary stressors and casualties caused to women workers by organisations unwilling to adapt to employees’ changing circumstances – and how flexible working, as it is currently practiced, far from being a solution, may add to the issues that disadvantage women in the workplace.

At BU the benefits of promoting flexible working is being seriously explored by the Equal Pay Review Committee and by Athena SWAN committees. It is recognised that all posts ideally should be flexible working ones and that male colleagues should also be encouraged to consider new working modes in order to spread the potential benefits. However, as Dr Young’s research suggests, a very important outcome of ensuring greater gender representation for flexible working, is that it would also serve to minimise the currently feminised disadvantages associated with that elusive pursuit of a better work-life balance.

Second WAN international seminar ‘Reclaiming the academy: Scholarship, gender and consumerism’

On the 23rd of May the Women’s Academic Network held their second international seminar ‘Reclaiming the academy: Scholarship, gender and consumerism’. Our international keynote speakers were Professor Maggie Berg from Queen’s University, Canada, and Professor Barbara Seeber from Brock University, also in Canada. Notably, Maggie and Barbara are the acclaimed authors of the extraordinary book The Slow Professor: Challenging the culture of speed in the academy. The audience was deeply absorbed by both their keynote speech and workshop, which outlined why ‘slowness’ in academia is vital to university life. We were dismayed to hear of the bizarre attacks made upon their work, in which sexism and gender oppression were clearly implicated, echoing one of the presentations on the silencing of women’s voices by our old colleague, Professor Heather Savigny of De Montford University. Yet Maggie and Barbara’s work speaks with the authority of deep scholarship and conviction and, as such, is generating great support globally. In this seaside corner of the world it has inspired research at BU among WAN members, along with international conference presentations and a forthcoming keynote speech for a DAKAM women’s studies conference in Turkey in December 2018 by Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree; and finally, a planned ESRC research bid.

The seminar was well attended by a mixed audience of internal and external academics and PGR, where we, WAN co-convenors, warmly welcomed the support of our good male colleagues in the capacity of presenters and participants. We heard some excellent presentations, culminating in an evocative social dreaming session by Anne-Marie Cummins and Dr Lita Crociani-Windland of the University of West of England. Thanks to our friend, Dr Ian Davies, colleagues and students from BU Music provided a superb finish to the day with beautiful singing and musical accompaniment and the whole event supported by the invaluable help of Sarah Cronin in OD.

The evaluations by participants were (gratifyingly) completely outstanding, encompassing without exception the two highest points of appreciation. Comments related to the excellence of the programme, the relevance of the topic to the audience and the warm collegiality experienced throughout the day. The only criticisms received was that maybe next time a 2-day event rather than 1 (noted, thanks) and that the rather ferocious air-conditioning needed taming (agreed).

Upon reflection the topic of the seminar appeared to hit a strongly vibrating chord in individual participants resonating with growing concern permeating the sector about the morphing and future of academia. For instance, it is disquieting to note from the research literature that the UK appears to be in the vanguard of adopting corporate values, systems and processes that have been critiqued in the literature as damaging to the ethos, the practices and environment of academia – not only harmful to academics in all ways but also to students in terms of their motivations towards and engagement with their studies, owing to the policy vectors influencing a flawed understanding of the purpose of academia, if viewed as purely instrumental. Yet we note that the HEI trends towards quasi-business models lags behind the realisation of actual business and entrepreneurial industries that the target-driven corporate model in fact damages innovation, commitment, creativity – and ultimately the health of employees. The gulf between privatised business models and academia are great and need to be recognised as such, as celebrated academics such as Stefan Collini and Frank Furedi make very clear. Writing in the Times Higher Education, the brilliant sociologist, Laurie Taylor (the caustic creator of the satirical ‘University of Poppleton’) sought to remind us a few years ago that just as good actors hold their allegiance to the concept of the ‘stage’, so too do academics owe theirs to that of ‘academia’ – not to any particular establishment.

This seminar was thus both timely and significant in allowing the topic to develop through inter-related themes and enabling us to recognised shared concerns and identify a corpus of collegial interest that bodes well for future research collaboration focusing on the threats towards, the defence of and the recreation of what academics really value together with the role of what flourishing university cultures contribute to society.

Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, Lorraine Brown, Frances Hawkhead & Jayne Caudwell

WAN Co-convenors

 

New from the Women’s Academic Network – forthcoming semester 2 events

The Women’s Academic Network (WAN) has been a not-so-quietly growing feature of academic life at BU since September 2013. For many women academics (those in the know) it offers an annual programme of events, activities and career support in a vibrant and open or lively and confidential environment. Sometimes these events are geared specifically for women academics and women PGR, but many are open-to-all colleagues and students.

The success of WAN, being non-corporate, depends very heavily upon the hard work of its co-convenors galvanised by the wider goodwill and enthusiasm of women colleagues. Plus we have a small but invaluable annual budget to run operations – thank you ULT! But despite having 24 hours written into the WAN co-convenor yearly workload allocation (nowhere near enough, believe me) we sometimes struggle to get the message out about our great events, to advertise membership to women colleagues (especially new colleagues to BU), and to effectively manage our rather clunky, home-made communication systems.

But things are changing! We hope to have our own BU webpage at long last, to revive and update our languishing Facebook page, keep up the tweets and to create real posters round BU to promote events. Through these means we plan to reach out more effectively to all those people who may not know that there is a forum here of like-minded, pro-women colleagues for every faculty and corner of BU. It’s called WAN. Because as one of our keen member’s has just expressed it, ‘WAN is the most collegiate forum at BU’. We think so too.

So here is a handy list of upcoming WAN events for your diaries, where we hope to see more colleagues interested in supporting and/or joining our ever-expanding network:

March 8, 2018 International Women’s Day (IWD) with WAN, 12.00-15.00, Fusion.

There are a number of IWD events going on at BU every year. Here is ours for 2018 which is open-to-all:

SPEAKER EVENTS FOR IWD:

Josie Fraser (she of the ‘In the Valley of the Trolls’ talk) speaking about the online harassment of girls and women. Title: ‘Speaking Out Online: “all your base are belong to us…”’

BU’s Dr Sue Sutherland’s research documentary Village Tales, which used film techniques as participatory research methodologies with village women in India to self-document their lives.

Plus Professor Gráinne Conole (HEA, National Teaching Fellow) candidly telling us about her amazing and challenging journey to being a 4* international professor. Facilitator Professor Debbie Holley of CEL.  Title TBA.

Lunchtime refreshments served.

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-academic-network-international-womens-day-tickets-40100804586

 

SPEAKER EVENT (open-to-all) – April 19, 17.00-19.00 pm, EBC.

Title: ‘Girls Interrupted: Young women’s life stories reflecting on growing up in Post-Katrina New Orleans and the impacts on their gender identities and sexualities’.

 Speaker: Dr Lisa Overton, Lecturer Politics at Middlesex University and Course Convenor for War, Conflict and Development at Birkbeck University.

This ethnographic study draws on gender and disaster scholarship, feminist trans/methodology and queer theories to explore how growing up after Hurricane Katrina affected young women’s life course, particularly their gender and sexual identities.

Drinks and canapé reception.

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wan-speaker-eventgirls-interrupted-young-womens-life-stories-reflecting-on-growing-up-in-post-tickets-43165392852#tickets

 

SPEAKER EVENT (open-to-all) – April 26, 12.00-14.00, LAWRENCE Lecture Theatre, Talbot

 Speaker: Dr Helen Fry

Title: ‘Historian Dr Helen Fry unwraps “A very secret war: Bugging the Nazis in WWII”’

During WW2, British intelligence bugged the conversations of over 10,000 German prisoners-of-war at three clandestine stately houses. Trent Park in north London was reserved for Hitler’s Generals and in an astonishing turn of events, they were housed in luxurious conditions and were lulled into a false sense of security. By the end of the war, there were 59 German generals under one roof. They relaxed and became unguarded in their conversations, and inadvertently gave away from of Hitler’s most closely guarded secrets.

(see also Guardian article by Helen on this topic, 17 Feb 2018)

Lunchtime refreshments.

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/historian-dr-helen-fry-unwraps-a-very-secret-war-bugging-the-nazis-in-wwii-tickets-42281992578

 

SPEAKER EVENT – May. Full details: TBA

Speaker: Professor Rosalind Gill, City University London

Title: ‘The Cult(ure) of Confidence, a critique of the ‘Lean In’ messages aimed at women to explain their failure to reach the upper echelons of every aspect of society.

About the speaker: Professor Gill is known for her research interests in gender and media, cultural and creative work, and mediated intimacy. For the last decade she has made a significant contribution to debates about the ‘sexualization of culture’. She enters this contested and polarized field bringing an emphasis upon difference – particularly the ways in which differently located groups are positioned by and in relation to sexualization – and upon new ways of thinking about the relationship between culture and subjectivity – how what is “out there” gets ‘in here; to shape our sense of self.

Registration pending. For further queries please contact WAN co-convenor Dr Frances Hawkhead fhawkhead@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

WAN SECOND RESEARCH SEMINAR, May 23, 1-day event

The Second Women’s Academic Network Research Seminar: ‘Reclaiming the academy: Scholarship, gender and consumerism’.

By popular demand we are holding the second WAN seminar, which is open to all BU colleagues, PGR and external academics. The theme of this year’s seminar focuses on the transitions of the academy in neo-liberal politicised spaces and how these are influencing the roles and expectations of academics and students, with a particular focus on women and scholarship.

 Keynote speakers: Professors Maggie Berg (Queen’s University, Canada) and Barbara Seeber (Brock University, Canada), authors of the Slow Professor: Challenging the culture of speed in the academy.

 Call for papers

We invite papers that relate to the above theme as well as papers that focus on gender-based research and/or are sponsored by WAN (open-to-all)

Deadline for submission of abstracts for consideration is March 9, 2018.  Please submit abstracts to WAN co-convenor Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree at scrabtree@bournemouth.ac.uk

Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-second-womens-academic-network-research-seminar-reclaiming-the-academy-scholarship-gender-and-tickets-41105120522

Finally if you want to know more about WAN or would like to join the network, please contact any of the WAN co-convenors:

Dr Frances Hawkhead, Dr Lorraine Brown,  Dr Jayne Caudwell or Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree

 

Back in the Women’s Room – WAN research seminar

Professor Ann Phoenix

On the 24 May the Women’s Academic Network (WAN) held their first public research seminar entitled ‘“Back in the Women’s Room”: Dialogues on gender-focused research’. This seminar, organised by Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree (in reference to the famous feminist novel The Women’s Room by Marilyn French), focused on research that had been either funded by WAN or were closely linked to WAN’s aims and interests. Accordingly 5 paper presentations were given by BU academics with a guest appearance by our founding member, Professor Heather Savigny of de Montford University, speaking on the topic of the hidden injuries to women in neoliberal academia.

A profoundly erudite keynote lecture was offered by our eminent speaker, Professor Ann Phoenix of the Thomas Coram Research Unit at the Institute of Education at UCL, who flew in from her secondment at the Helsinki University Collegium for Advanced Studies to attend the seminar. The day was completed by two successive 90 minute workshops, one given by Professor Phoenix on feminist intersectional research and the other being a fascinating, participative social dreaming workshop on women in academia, conducted by Dr Aanka Batta of the Faculty of Media & Communication (FMC). Professor Tiantian Zhang of SciTech gracefully closed the day.

There was good attendance by BU and external academics along with PGR. The seminar was seen to be enormously successful and received excellent evaluations from participants. However, while a thoroughly gratifying outcome (and hopefully the beginning of other such seminars) the main impact of the day was to be able to focus on issues of genuine relevance and concern to women (and male) academics through papers on gendered barriers to academic careers by Professors Ashencaen Crabtree and Chris Sheil. A paper on women knowledge workers and flexible working by doctoral candidate, Aleksandra Biernat, resonated with our awareness of the difficulties of negotiating masculinised workspaces as women. Drs Haana Osman and Lorraine Brown delivered a WAN-sponsored paper on UK Muslim women tourists. Professor Candida Yates followed with another sponsored research paper on perceptions and emotionality in the wake of Brexit – a most topical issue. Dr Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers gave an impressive account on the ambiguities of gender in post-War Kosovo. Finally, Professor Ann Hemingway et al. discussed their early work on Slow Professorship as a means of reclaiming deep scholarship – where synergies were found with colleagues from the Faculty of Management, who are also engaged in exploring this area. We were also really pleased that this work inspired such a strong response for further engagement with our colleagues across Faculties, where Professor Mike Wilmore, Dean of FMC was eager to continue discussions at a higher level.

The day provided a number of valuable opportunities for colleagues to explore gender as both an analytic framework, a subjective experience and as firmly embedded in ubiquitous contexts and daily social interactions. It provided an invaluable forum to examine the complexities, paradoxes and oppressions that form the problematic and bone of contention in gender politics – and in so doing privileged those vital areas of concern that otherwise too often remain unheard and unseen.

 

Professor Sara Ashencaen Crabtree