10 key conclusions have been drawn from the first year of the project which aims to track the experiences and leadership aspirations of women working in higher education over five years.
Initial findings can be accessed below.
Findings from the first year of the study will help the sector to identify the opportunities and barriers to women’s progression. Creating a baseline of evidence, the research reveals the necessary step-change needed to support women to enable their leadership potential.
By measuring and tracking perceptions and experiences of leadership, the sector will be empowered to create change.
In working with the sector on initiatives such as Aurora and tracking its effectiveness, we keep the momentum up on not only supporting and encouraging individuals to find their leadership footing earlier in their careers – we are also ensuring that institutions cannot overlook the commitment that women (and other protected groups) have for this sector.
In July 2015 the Leadership Foundation commissioned an independent team of experts from Loughborough University to track the perceptions and experiences of women’s leadership opportunities.
The project, called Onwards and Upwards: Tracking the Careers of Women's Leadership in Higher Education, is a five-year longitudinal study of leadership experiences, careers, values and aspirations of participants from the Aurora programme that began in 2013.
1270 women from the first three years of Aurora have taken part. 306 other women who so far have not participated in Aurora have also contributed to the project. In year four of Aurora (2016-17) participants are invited to take part in the research prior to their first day on the programme.
We expect the project to make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in this area as well as helping us, our stakeholders and the higher education sector in considering the impact of Aurora and assisting future workforce development.
If you would like to know more about this study of women’s careers and leadership experiences in the higher education sector please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The study will:
In order to achieve these objectives, the Onwards and Upwards project will conduct quantitative and qualitative research with Aurora programme participants, their mentors and women in higher education institutions who have not taken part in Aurora.
The project began in April 2015 and will run until March 2020.
The Onwards and Upwards project team will conduct a series of online surveys with five cohorts of Aurora programmes participants. The surveys represent the main building block of the study.
The Onwards and Upwards project team will recruit eight women per cohort for cohorts 2-5 to take part in interviews to explore career histories and experiences in higher education institutions. The interviews will be used to develop a rich understanding of Aurora participants’ evolving views of themselves, their careers and their leadership styles, and the role they think Aurora has played in that.
The Onwards and Upwards project team will recruit eight women per cohort for cohorts 3-5 to fill in structured diaries around specific themes in order to explore perceptions and experiences of working in universities and higher education colleges.
The team will survey women who have not taken part in the Aurora programme. This ‘comparison group’. The comparison group will be recruited through nominations from Aurora participants and invitations sent via Aurora Champions.
The final element of the study will be interviews with Aurora mentors: we plan to interview eight mentors per cohort for the cohorts goups 2-5. We will ask those who take part in the Aurora participant interviews if we can contact their mentor. Where this is agreed, we will conduct a brief interview with mentors to ascertain their perceptions of the mentee’s development in the 15-18 months after their participation in Aurora.
In accordance with the ethical requirements for conducting research the Onwards and Upwards project team have completed relevant forms and gained approval for the work carried out for this study.
Dr Fehmidah Munir is Reader in Health Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Fehmidah has 15 years organisational and higher education research experience. Her strengths include conducting longitudinal surveys and data analysis. Fehmidah is also Athena SWAN Champion for her School and Chair of School Equality and Diversity Advisory Group.
Dr Sarah Barnard is a Lecturer in the School of Business and Economics. Sarah has over ten years hands-on experience carrying out research projects using quantitative and qualitative social research methods. Her expertise is in gender, equality and diversity, sociology of higher education.
Professor John Arnold is Professor of Organisational Behaviour in the School of Business and Economics. John has nearly 30 years’ experience of work psychology research with individuals and organisations. He has conducted longitudinal projects with allied health professionals and graduate trainees in large companies.
Dr Sara Bosley is based in the School of Business and Economics. Sara has worked as an academic and freelance researcher, and as a careers adviser and coach. Her PhD gathered qualitative data to explore individuals’ perceptions of the role of others in shaping their careers. She has a wide experience of research on career and learning development.
Professor Fiona Ross CBE, Research Director, Leadership Foundation (Chair); Barbara Davey, Acas, Research and Evaluation Section; Professor Jackie Ford, University of Bradford; Helen Goreham, Research Manager, Leadership Foundation; Alison Johns, Chief Executive, Leadership Foundation; Gary Loke, Head of Policy, Equality Challenge Unit; Professor Jacky Lumby, University of Southampton and Leadership Foundation Research Advisory Panel member; Professor Lorna McKee, Delivery of Care Programme Director, University of Aberdeen; Vijaya Nath, Director of Leadership Development, Leadership Foundation; Melissa Ruxton, Programme Development Manager/Aurora Manager, Leadership Foundation; Ginnie Willis, Associate, Leadership Foundation.
For more information about the Onwards and Upwards project please email the project team at email@example.com.