• "We Don’t Have the Key to the Executive Washroom”: Women’s Perceptions and Experiences of Promotion in Academia

      Guth, Jessica; Wright, Fran (2010-05)
      This chapter reports on a pilot study looking at the progression of academic women at one UK University. The chapter focuses on the promotions process and criteria as one important issue emerging from that research. Earlier research has shown that women are less likely to break into institutional networks which allow them to access information not only on formal and objective promotion criteria but also on hidden criteria and the way the ‘academic game’ is played. One result of this is that some academic women may have an inaccurate view of promotion criteria and processes. At the university studied by the authors, the Human Resources department has sought to make the promotion process more transparent and, officially at least, it no longer depends purely upon research achievements. However, these changes will not necessarily result in easier progression for women academics. The authors’ study confirms that there is still a mismatch between what women think the criteria for promotion are, what the formal criteria are and how those criteria actually operate. Reliance on incomplete or inaccurate information about promotion criteria, coupled other factors, such as women’s reluctance to promote themselves actively and traditional barriers to promotion such as caring responsibilities, puts women at a disadvantage when they attempt to progress into more senior positions within universities. Reform of promotions procedures needs to look beyond re-writing the substantive criteria for promotion and look to improving understanding of what is involved.