Perspectives from below the ceiling : academic women and the transition from Senior Lecturer to the Professoriate - a case study

Pyke, Joanne ORCID: 0000-0002-0137-937X (2009) Perspectives from below the ceiling : academic women and the transition from Senior Lecturer to the Professoriate - a case study. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Despite progressive increases in women’s academic employment over the past 20 years, women continue to be under-represented in senior academic roles above the level of Senior Lecturer (Level C). This thesis explores whether there are specific barriers in operation that serve to prevent women’s transition to the level of Associate Professor (Level D). The research asks, first, why does the transition from Level C to Level D continue to be a barrier for women? Second, are women giving up on promotion just when they have the experience and qualifications to be successful? From a critical realist perspective, a central assumption is that the interactions between agency and structure simultaneously operate to create the possibilities for individual action. This relationship is explored through a case study of one Victorian university, which includes interviews with women positioned ‘below the ceiling’ at Level C to explore aspirations and the rationale for decision making about promotion to the professoriate. The research concludes that, while there is wide diversity according to individual history and circumstances, there are multiple and cumulative barriers to women’s progression along the academic hierarchy that become particularly intense at the point of transition to Level D. The implication is that many women make the ‘choice’ to withdraw from promotion. This ‘choice’ is shaped, not by a preference to value family or other priorities over career, as human capital theories would suggest. Rather, it is the outcome of sometimes overwhelming structural limitations that combine to make aspirations for promotion to the professoriate either untenable or undesirable.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Economics and Finance
Historical > FOR Classification > 1301 Education Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1402 Applied Economics
Keywords academic women, career development, career paths, academia, professors, lecturers, labor economics
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