Women remain poorly represented in the highest positions in academia, despite their increasing participation. This article seeks to understand how women who have reached senior occupational positions in Higher Education Institutions have navigated their organisational and disciplinary settings. In the process we explore how experiences compare across male and female-dominated spaces, integrating field theory with Acker’s work on ‘gendered organisations’ to develop the idea of academic disciplines as ‘gendered spaces’. Empirically we draw upon a qualitative study of women Professors working across science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) and non-STEMM disciplines in a large research-intensive university in the UK. Utilising Bourdieu’s concept of ‘the game’ we show how they navigate the academic game within the context of differing ‘gendered spaces’; complicit in the game yet recognising it as unfair, and thus (inadvertently) reproducing gendered structures and practices.
- field theory
- gendered spaces