Women to watch

December 1, 1995

Joanna Gray and E. Stina Lyon (THES, November 17) highlight gender issues raised by the research assessment exercise, but both may have underestimated its contribution to the emergence of "new academic woman". This woman does not share Lyon's concerns about childcare provision for she has often decided against having children because they would interfere with her ambitions. She usually has a (male) partner, who can help career plans since another income provider enables her to buy herself out of teaching to be free to publish, network and appear in the "right places".

Although the "RAE transfer market" is male dominated, there are notable exceptions. For example, in some university departments, the gender balance at professorial level has been totally transformed by new academic woman's ability to exploit professional, personal and even party political networks.

At the non-professorial level, new academic woman's modus operandi leaves her more "conventional" female colleagues struggling to balance teaching and publication with family responsibilities. In sum, the RAE is not just increasing inequality between men and women, but also between women and other women.


Senior lecturer in sociology

University of Bradford

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