National Research Evaluation and its Effects on Female Academics’ Careers in the UK-A Case Study

Emily Yarrow

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This research brings together powerful empirical data to address gender inequality in the academy; thereby providing unique insights into the role that research evaluation plays in women’s academic careers. The study investigates how the effects and demands of research evaluation interact with organisational-level inequality regimes and affect female academic career trajectories.

There is a latent need for considerable empirical research into gendered academic career construction in the context of increased evaluation and new managerialism. Women have long been, and continue to be, underrepresented not only in the professoriate but also in senior academic management and full-time academic positions in universities throughout the UK. Worryingly, women are still less likely to be submitted for research evaluation exercises than their male colleagues, as revealed both in the case study university and in national statistics.

For this research an exploratory case study approach comprising 80 in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews inspired by a life-histories approach, in an anonymous, research-intensive, UK University, was adopted. Interviews were held with a diverse range of female academics and key respondents across various academic grades, with respondents ranging between 27 and 67 years of age across the faculties of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Acker’s (2006) theory of inequality regimes was used as the central analytical framework; as an additional analytical facet, Bradley's (1999) resource-based theory of power was used to explore the power dynamics in the case study. It is by bringing together Bradley’s theory of resource-based power, with Acker’s theory of inequality regimes, that an innovative theoretical space is created which enables an improved understanding of both the role of organisational hierarchy and gendered power in an academic context together. A theoretical model has been developed which demonstrates the theorisation of how inequality regimes and gendered power interact and are mutually reinforced through informal processes.

The findings of this study suggest that research evaluation in the UK actively contributes to the continuance of gender inequality regimes, though it may potentially be used as a career-path clarification tool, and so also hold advantages for some women.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen Mary University of London
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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