Australian story : catalysts and inhibitors in the achievement of new women professors

Diezmann, Carmel M. & Grieshaber, Susan J. (2010) Australian story : catalysts and inhibitors in the achievement of new women professors. In Howard, Sarah (Ed.) AARE 2010 Conference Proceedings, AARE Inc, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-17.

View at publisher


Women are substantially under-represented in the professoriate in Australia with a ratio of one female professor to every three male professors. This gender imbalance has been an ongoing concern with various affirmative action programs implemented in universities but to limited effect. Hence, there is a need to investigate the catalysts for and inhibitors to women’s ascent to the professoriate. This investigation focussed on women appointed to the professoriate between 2005, when a research quality assessment was first proposed, and 2008. Henceforth, these women are referred to as “New Women Professors”. The catalysts and inhibitors in these women’s careers were investigated through an electronic survey and focus group interviews. The survey was administered to new women professors (n=255) and new men professors (n=240) to enable a comparison of responses. However, only women participated in focus group discussions (n=21). An analysis of the survey and interview data revealed that the most critical catalysts for women’s advancement to the professoriate were equal employment opportunities and mentoring. Equal opportunity initiatives provided women with access to traditionally male-dominated forums. Mentoring gave women an insider perspective on the complexity of academia and the politics of the academy. The key inhibitors to women’s career advancement were negative discrimination, the culture of the boys’ club, the tension between personal and professional life, and isolation. Negative discrimination and the boys’ club are problematic because they favour men and marginalise women. The tension between personal and professional life is a particular concern for women who bear children and typically assume the major role in a family for child rearing. Isolation was a concern for both women and men with isolation appearing to increase after ascent to the professoriate. Knowledge of the significant catalysts and inhibitors provides a pragmatic way to orient universities towards redressing the gender balance in the professoriate.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

54 since deposited on 12 Sep 2011
15 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 45885
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: This paper is freely available online from the publisher's website - see "Official URL" above.
Keywords: Professors, women, Australian, academic, higher education
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 (please consult the authors).
Deposited On: 12 Sep 2011 00:14
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2011 00:15

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page