Context, Identity, Choice

30th and 31st May 2018, University Women’s Club, London


**Click below for more information on conference content**


Programme       Posters         Presentations



There has been vast improvement in workplace gender equality, but there remain marked differences in the roles in which women and men work. Explanations for this inequality have focused on the barriers women face. However, as women begin to enter male-dominated roles, a new explanation has arisen: that remaining gender inequality must reflect fundamental differences between women and men, including differences in (a) ambition and desire for power, (b) needs for work-life balance, and (c) willingness to take career risks and make sacrifices for one’s career. Central to this analysis is the assumption that the glass ceiling is broken and thus inequality must be due to women’s active choices. This explanation downplays the fact that social context continues to be a barrier to women’s success and places responsibility for gender inequality on women themselves.

 The Event

We will hold a 2-day event to kick-start the project.
Day 1: Academic medium-group meeting to share and discuss cutting-edge research in this area
Day 2: Co-creation event to bring together academics, practitioners, and industry leaders in HR and Diversity and Inclusion to exchange knowledge and experience and co-create an agenda of research that takes academic knowledge forwards and informs and creates evidence-based organisation interventions and policy.

Day 1: Academic medium-group meeting
Wednesday 30th May, 09:00 - 18:00

The first day of the event will be dedicated to a medium-group academic meeting (up to 80 attendees) with a focus on the barriers to workplace gender equality. A key-note talk will be given by Prof Madeline Heilman (New York University). There will be the opportunity to submit proposals for 30-minute research talks throughout the day within themed sessions. We will also have a poster session where attendees can present research findings and discuss their work with other researchers.

The day is designed for academics, and we strongly encourage PhD students, Early Career Researchers, and Early-Career Academics to attend.


18:30 - Conference dinner (pre-booked places only)


Day 2: Co-creation Day
Thursday 31st of May, 09.45 - 16:00

The second day of the event is designed to bring together academics working in the area of workplace gender equality with practitioners and industry professionals (up to 80 attendees). The purpose of this day is to bring together academics, organisational representatives, and policy-makers to share knowledge and experiences in relation to workplace gender equality and to identify the key issues faced by organisations when addressing issues of gender diversity and inclusion. The day will include a key-note talk by Prof Michelle Ryan (University of Exeter) and a series of targeted panel discussions (with academic, practitioner and industry panelists) on key topics suggested in advance by attendees. The day will culminate with a plenary discussion to identify novel and timely research questions and discuss practical ways in which academics and industry can work together to address the issues identified throughout the day.

The day is designed for academics, practitioners, and industry professionals, and would suit senior HR professionals, such as Heads of HR, and Diversity and Inclusion leads.

The Project

In our European Research Council-funded project, led by Prof Michelle Ryan (University of Exeter, UK) we argue that diametrically contrasting structural barriers with women’s choices is unhelpful. Instead, we suggest that women’s choices are shaped and constrained by the gendered nature of organisational and social contexts. We are conducting a 5-year programme of research that investigates how social and organisational structures define identities and constrain women’s choices in relation to ambition, work- life balance, and career risk-taking. We have four key objectives:
(1) To clarify how organisational and social contexts define identity and constrain women’s choices
(2) To use an interdisciplinary, multi-methodological approach, to produce innovative theory and data
(3) To work collaboratively with stakeholders
(4) To inform practical interventions designed to facilitate the increase of women’s participation in hitherto male- dominated roles.

Attendance at the event will be free.
Morning and afternoon tea, as well as a buffet lunch will be provided.
Attendees will need to cover their own transport and accommodation.