CYGNA: Gender researchers meeting

Reports on our 20th CYGNA meeting with a presentation on work-life balance

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.

20th meeting 20 February 2018 (Middlesex University)

organised by Anne-Wil Harzing, Sue Lewis, and Alexandra Beauregard [on behalf of CYGNA and the Middlesex University Gender & Diversity research cluster]

Through my Publish or Perish software I got in touch with Alice Eagly, probably the most famous gender researcher in the world. Her academic career has already spanned six decades and with more than a dozen publications in the last 2 years she shows no signs of slowing down. Hence we were over the moon when she agreed to visit us at Middlesex University. Unfortunately, like so many, Alice was struck down by the norovirus, so she was unable to join us. My wonderful colleagues Alexandra Beauregard stepped in at the last minute and gave an excellent seminar on her recent research on work-life balance (see below).

Networking research lunch meeting

Originally we had nearly sixty people, including gender researchers from a range of London-based universities, registered to come over for Alice's presentation, so I organised a networking lunch meeting as well. Although many of them decided not to come after we lost our star attraction, our four international visitors (Divina Alexiou, CYGNA member and my PhD student at Tilburg University, the Netherlands; CYGNA member and co-author Anne-Katrin Neyer, and her PhD students Juliane Mueller and colleague Miriam Neidig, all from Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany) were already on their way.

As I had combined this networking meeting with our monthly Middlesex research lunch meeting we still had about thirty people attending. Unfortunately, I was too busy talking to people to take pictures, but our international visitors can be seen below enjoying the afternoon seminar.

Diversity in the work-life interface (Alexandra Beauregard)

In the afternoon Alex did a great Alice Eagly impersonation; we had over twenty academics attending the seminar. I am sure that in thirty years time she'll easily be able to attract three times that number :-)


Existing research on the work-life interface has focused primarily on women in North American or Western European legal and social contexts. Our current understanding of how professionals combine work and non-work domains in non-Western settings is therefore limited. In this session, I will present qualitative research exploring the work-life experiences of individuals in three distinct geographical contexts: female legal professionals in Nigeria; male and female teachers, managers, lawyers, and physicians in Greece; and male and female senior executives in the United Kingdom. While the findings of these three studies demonstrate that some elements of the work-life interface are similar among professionals in different countries (e.g., the difficulties women confront in combining caregiving responsibilities with career advancement in work environments characterized by long hours and vertical gender segregation), they also serve as a reminder that socio-legal context has a significant role to play in determining the demands that individuals face and the resources available to them in combining multiple roles.

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