CYGNA: Careers, mobility and belonging: foreign women academics in the UK

Reports on our 15th CYGNA meeting with a special emphasis on the challenges for female foreign academics in the UK

Since moving to the UK, I have been involved in running CYGNA. The network was established in June 2014  as a combined initiative of Argyro Avgoustaki, Ling Eleanor Zhang, and Anne-Wil Harzing, later joined by Shasha Zhao. The name CYGNA comes from the female version of the Greek word for SWAN (Supporting Women in Academia Network). The main objective of the group is to promote interaction among female academics based in the London area and to provide a forum for learning, support, and networking.

We typically hold four or five meetings a year with a mix of presentations and informal discussions. A quick overview of the topics covered can be found here. Yearly meeting overviews with pictures can be found here. In February 2018, I have started to write up our meetings as blogposts so from February till June 2018 you'll find reports on a mix of recent and older CYGNA meetings on my blog. A full list of the blogposts of our mid 2014 to mid 2018 meetings can be found at CYGNA: Resource collection for the summer holidays.

15th meeting 17 March 2017 (Royal Holloway)

Organised by Ling Eleanor Zhang and Fiona Moore, Royal Holloway, University of London

Our March 2017 meeting was organised by our team from Royal Holloway and we met at their beautiful Bedford Square building, located in the middle of Bloomsbury. Very convenient!

As usual we had a mix of regulars and occasional attendees. The occasional attendees are often academics who come from far away, such as Natalie Willmot who joined us from Sheffield and Miyuki Takino who joined us from Japan, well not directly from Japan, she was on a UK trip, but still...

cygna group march

Martyna Śliwa, Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education at the University of Essex gave a presentation on Careers, mobility and belonging: The ascent of foreign women academics in UK business schools? [presentation download], based on her own research in this area. As 95% of the CYGNA members are non-British - not by design, we'd love to have more British members - her presentation obviously struck a chord.

Martyna Sliwa

Abstract: In my presentation to CYGNA members I draw on the findings of my research into the experiences of foreign women academics employed in UK business schools. I discuss a range of aspects in which being a foreign woman influences an individual’s career development and a sense of professional belonging in the context of British academia. Among other things, I stress the role of being a non-native English language speaker in shaping the experiences as well as organisational progression of foreign women academics. Using examples taken from research participants’ narratives, I offer an overview of the different challenges that foreign women academics tend to face when working and building careers in UK business schools. I then put forward suggestions for specific strategies and approaches that individuals can adopt to counteract possible issues and obstacles, and explore the possibilities of collective action that could lead to an overall improvement of the situation of foreign women academics.

Martyna's publications in this field

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