1st Edition

Inspirational Women in Academia Supporting Careers and Improving Minority Representation

By Natalia Kucirkova, Loleta Fahad Copyright 2023
    194 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    194 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Expert-led, interdisciplinary, and international in scope, this insightful book aims to increase the representation and leadership potential of women working in academia, examining the intersection of multiple inequalities with a specific focus on gender, age, ethnicity, and disability. A carefully crafted response to educational inequalities, the volume posits an invitation for dialogue around what it means to have success in higher education.

    This book expands the reader’s understanding of leadership in academia and the challenges specific to individual career pathways, offering a plethora of practical tried-and-tested strategies that individuals and institutions can adopt to create a more equal and socially just academic climate. Designed to encourage reflection on potential strategies and how they could be implemented, the ten co-authored chapters include first-person narratives, case studies inspired by interviews with academics, and links and recommendations for further reading. The personal accounts of the authors are enriched with those of other academics who have faced challenges in career progression. Each chapter is structured as a conversation between the authors in relation to an inequality issue, with a summary of scholarly literature and studies on the topic, followed by strategies successfully applied in practice. Strategies presented are firmly rooted in the everyday reality of working as a researcher, higher education lecturer, or academic administrator.

    This book is ideal reading for any minority working in higher education interested in promotion processes, equality and diversity in the workplace, and mentoring. It will also be of interest to providers of academic leadership courses, organisations, and institutions promoting gender equality in higher education, supporting women’s careers, and improving the representation, progression, and success of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and students within higher education.

    List of figures

    Chapter 1: You, our reader, and us

    Why did we write this book?

    Articulation of key words

    What is academic success?

    A generous definition of academic success

    Who inspired this book?

    Our interviewees


    Who is this book for?

    Individual academic roles

    What makes academia special?

    Our individual role in structural inequalities

    Culture change is on the horizon

    Becoming good university citizens

    The Social Justice Agenda in good university citizenship

    Chapter 2: Unequal identities

    Gendered academia


    Intersections in academic identities


    Discriminatory practices evident in hierarchies

    Moving forward

    Experiences of discrimination in academia

    Challenging discriminations

    Tackling discriminations: Equality and equity in academia

    Individual agency

    The individual agency of female academics

    When efforts for addressing discrimination go wrong

    Positive efforts for addressing discrimination

    Be aware of and beware the implicit bias

    Chapter 3: Time-bound identities

    The question of time

    Multiple identities and multiple time demands

    The times are changing

    The academic time and our time priorities

    Learning to say ‘no’

    Should academic women have children?

    Academic mums

    The myth of the unproductive academic mum

    Productive and happy academic moms

    The trouble of academic diaries

    The time management changes we can all make

    Slow it down

    Chapter 4: The visible and invisible academic identities

    The academic road is not linear

    Family background

    The academic family

    The family of your own choosing

    The PhD experience

    The reflective academic identity

    The power of crystallising experiences

    Carving out your academic niche

    A funnel approach to niche carving

    Pave your own path

    Leaving academia

    Academic failures

    Staying in academia

    Chapter 5: The resilient and collaborative identities



    Courage and resilience

    Grace and resilience


    Growing your professional networks

    The boundaries between private and professional networks

    Example of a creative side-hustle

    The benefits of combining science and art

    The drawbacks of combining science and art

    Chapter 6: The publicly engaged identity

    The multi-faceted nature of public engagement

    Means of public engagement for scientific and professional staff

    The importance of public engagement

    The case of academic media stars

    Effective public engagement

    New ways of public engagement

    Challenges of social media for research communication

    New to public engagement and research communication?

    Action research

    Setting up your own website

    Creative communication methods

    Creating public courses

    Collaborative public engagement

    Chapter 7: Writing identities

    Go for quality, not for quantity

    Writing well

    Collaborative writing

    Perfect or good enough articles

    Honing your writing skills

    Effective writing routines

    Protecting your writing time

    Shitty drafts

    Your own writing voice

    Writing journal articles

    Editing as part of writing

    Ethical editorship

    Publishing open-access

    Chapter 8: Being Your Authentic Self

    What is your ‘whole-self’?

    Cultural misconceptions

    Loleta’s experience of bringing the authentic self to work

    Disability bias and misunderstandings

    Coping with being yourself

    Getting ahead or being held back?


    Chapter 9: Your mentoring identity

    Why is a mentor important?

    Mentoring in early career stage: PhD supervision

    Variations in PhD studies


    Female leaders as mentors

    Who are inspirational mentors?

    How to start a mentorship relationship

    Various types of mentorship

    Mentorship experiences at the administrative level

    Resources and tips

    Chapter 10: Your leadership identity

    Female leadership

    Characteristics of good academic leaders

    How does one become a leader?

    Our personal experiences of leadership

    Inspirational leadership styles

    The gloomy statistics

    Leadership and the office culture

    Women to top

    Changes are pending

    You are not alone

    Chapter 11: This book and us

    Chapter 12: References



    Natalia Kucirkova is Full Professor at two universities – University of Stavanger in Norway and The Open University in the UK. She is also a Visiting Professor at University College London, UK, and Chair of the International Collective of Children’s Digital Books.

    Loleta Fahad is Head of Career Development in Organisational Development, University College London (UCL), UK. She is responsible for managing, developing, and implementing resources which support the on-going development, progression, and retention of professional staff at UCL.