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Living precarity, enduring bias : exploring the gendered experiences of UK early career academics

Shand, Laura Elizabeth


Laura Elizabeth Shand



This research explores the gendered lives of Early Career Academics (ECAs) within the gender regime of the neoliberal university and examines the commonalities and differences of their lived experience. Overall, participants lives were characterised by both aspects of labour market precarity − through workplace casualisation − and feelings of precariousness, a vulnerability engendered through harmful modes of working and further exacerbated by a deeply held attachment to academia as vocational, passionate work. Regarding gendered differences, ECA women expressed frustration that male peers were promoted at a faster rate, and at the various forms of bias that compromised their progression in a competitive environment. ECA men in comparison felt both the affective and material impacts of precarious work but did not identify many of the obstacles reported by female participants. Overall barriers to academic labour market progression were experienced either as financial harms − inequalities in material distribution (particularly precarity) − or as subjective feelings of non-belonging, misrecognition, an experience more common to women and other atypical ECAs. Resistance to the neoliberal university and the patriarchal gender regime was expressed by speaking up (both as individuals and as groups), kindness, and collective action as a challenge to individualism. This research was undertaken through 19 in-depth phenomenological interviews with ECAs, five with senior academics and an online survey to provide wider scope.


Shand, L. E. (2019). Living precarity, enduring bias : exploring the gendered experiences of UK early career academics. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Health & social work
Public URL
Additional Information School of Health and Social Work, The University of Hull
Award Date Dec 1, 2019


Thesis (1.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 Shand, Laura Elizabeth. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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