Global Community

Default Placeholder

Researching the Experiences of Part Time Work in Research Administration

  • 1.  Researching the Experiences of Part Time Work in Research Administration

    Posted 05-17-2018 14:38

    Dear NCURA members:

    Please find below, the survey and article approved to be shared amongst all NCURA Collaborate Members.  Please take a moment to fill out the survey below, within the article.
    Thank you,

    Dana Gresham
    NCURA Collaborate Community Curator
    Assistant Coordinator, Membership and Global Programs


    The Glass Escalator in Research Administration: Do Flexible-Working Policies Adversely Discriminate Against Women?  

    Please take the survey HERE!

    The Research Problem

    As a profession, Research Administration (RA) is heavily dependent upon its female workforce. Internationally, 77% of all RA staff are women and there is surprisingly little variation in this across the developed world. When it comes to Leadership positions, however, this gender imbalance becomes less pronounced, with 28% of leadership roles occupied by men, despite their only making up 22% of the overall workforce (Kerridge and Scott, unpublished data). 

    Such patterns are not unique to Research Administration. In nursing, teaching and other traditionally "female" professions, men consistently reach leadership positions both more quickly and in greater numbers than their female counterparts (Williams 1992; Whittock et al. 2002). One reason for this is that women are more likely to be in part-time positions than men, usually due to their having caring responsibilities. In turn, this limits their opportunities for personal and professional development that can lead to career advancement (Lyonette 2015). As a phenomenon this is known as the "glass escalator" (Williams 1992). Within Research Administration, a disproportionate (86%) number of all part-time roles are filled by women. Given the higher number of men in leadership positions than within the overall workforce, this suggests that the "glass escalator" is also having an effect within Research Administration. 

    As a relatively new and continuously evolving profession, there is an opportunity to create novel approaches to workforce development that can prevent this imbalance from becoming an intractable feature of the Research Administration landscape.  

    This research therefore sets out to capture more data on peoples' experiences of part time working in order to engage in an informed debate within the Profession about whether part time working is implicated in gender imbalances amongst the Profession's leadership. 


    Two data collection methods are planned: a survey and real-time voting at INORMS2018.   

    Firstly, data on peoples' experiences of part time working in Research Administration will be captured through a short on-line survey (designed in Qualtrics). The questionnaire has been piloted with Research Administration and academic staff at the University of Kent to ensure that it is easily and consistently understood and simple to complete. It has also been subject to a full ethical approval review (University of Kent Reference 0451718). The survey will be sent to members of Research Administration membership organizations covering the UK, USA and Canada.  This will provide a maximum potential sample well in excess of 5,000.   

    The survey data will be non-attributable and will be stored on the Qualtrics secure servers. Data will be downloaded into Excel and SPSS for analysis. Once the data has been analyzed it will be presented to the international research community at a workshop the Researchers are delivering at the International Network of Research Management (INORMS) conference in June 2018 (INORMS 2018). 

    At this workshop, we will then use interactive voting to explore audience members' reactions to the findings and to rank ideas for reducing this gender imbalance in the future. Depending upon the size of the audience, this interactivity has the potential to generate additional empirical data to help explain the gender imbalance in Research Administration and to generate practical solutions to the problem.  

    Read more here.

    Please take the survey HERE!

    Authored by:
    Dr Sarah Tetley
    Eastern ARC Officer
    University of Kent

    Dr Helen Leech
    Funding Development Officer for the Sciences
    University of Kent, UK 

    Dana Gresham
    Assistant Coordinator, Membership and NCURA Global Programs
    National Council of University Research Administrators
    Washington, DC
    (202) 466-3894