CYGNA: Internal versus External promotion

Reports on our 22nd CYGNA meeting with a presentation giving tips for internal and external promotion applications

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 five meetings a year with a mix of presentations and informal discussions. We also maintain a readings and inspirations section for female academics and have a Twitter hashtag #cygna_london. If you’d like to join the CYGNA network, just drop me an email

22nd meeting 28 September 2018 (Middlesex University)

Organised by Shasha Zhao and Anne-Wil Harzing, Middlesex University

Last year when we met at Middlesex University, I said our favourite meeting place on the Middlesex campus was the Hendon Town Hall. But for today's meeting Shasha had managed to secure an even better room: the Vice Chancelor's Board Room. This is the most prestigious room on campus that normally only hosts senior management team and professorial meetings. How symbolic for the theme of our meeting: Promotions in academia!

As always we had a mixed group of old-timers and new participants. In the last category we had: Xiaoning Lu (SOAS, London), Emma Gardner (University of Birmingham), Sarah Otner (Imperial College London, via Skype), Erica Howard (Middlesex University, Law School) and Sylwia Ciuk (Oxford Brookes University), Carole Couper (Sheffield University, via Skype), Diletta Pegoraro (Birmingham University, via Skype), Helen Cai (Middlesex University, Business School).

This time we also had five participants via Skype; you can see the laptop with the open connections below! One of them, my former PhD student Shea Fan, was even following us from Melbourne (Australia) even though our 3pm start equated to a midnight start for her. That shows true dedication to learn about promotion applications! Shea also has a forthcoming guest post on my blog: Managing expatriates’ identity: subtle desire, big impact

International vs external promotion

For the first meeting of the 2018-2019 academic year we talked about one of the most controversial topics in academic life: promotion applications. Given that I have gone through one external and two internal promotion applications (not counting the unsuccessful ones!) I volunteered to share mhy experiences. My full presentation can be downloaded here: It is so unfair! Internal vs. external promotion [presentation download]

In the presentation - which can be downloaded in full here - I covered the following topics:

  • Why is promotion so central to our academic discourse and identity?
  • Internal vs external promotion
    • General reflections
    • Seven reasons why external promotion is generally easier to achieve
  • The gender context: yes bias does play some role
  • Seven advantages of internal promotion
  • Tips for promotion applications
    • Some personal reflections

Blogpost series

My presentation was based on a 4-part blogpost series that had been published on my blog in weekly installments in September. You might enjoy reading it. The series was also republished by the London School of Economics Impact Blog.

Related blogposts

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