Led by a team of experts from Loughborough University, our five-year longitudinal study tracks the careers and aspirations of women working in higher education. The study aims to follow the journeys of Aurora participants before, during and after they have completed the programme.
Insights and reports from year’s 1, 2 and 3 can be found below along with full details of the project.
About the project
In July 2015 the Leadership Foundation commissioned an independent team of experts from Loughborough University to track the perceptions and experiences of women’s leadership opportunities.
The project, called Onwards and Upwards: Tracking the Careers of Women's Leadership in Higher Education, is a five-year longitudinal study of leadership experiences, careers, values and aspirations of participants from the Aurora programme that began in 2013.
We expect the project to make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in this area as well as helping us, our stakeholders and the higher education sector in considering the impact of Aurora and assisting future workforce development.
If you would like to know more about this study of women’s careers and leadership experiences in the higher education sector please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Onwards and Upwards will conduct a longitudinal study of the career trajectories, aspirations and work experiences of Aurora programme participants. The findings will inform workforce planning and institutional equality and diversity strategies that aim to better develop the pipeline to successful leadership roles for women.
The study will:
• Track and analyse the career pathways.
• Explore perspectives on (and engagement with) leadership roles and activities.
• Explore perceptions of confidence, aspirations, role and professional development, work/life balance, opportunities and challenges to development/progression.
• Assess commitment of the women to their role, their discipline, to higher education, their institution and their own professional development.
In order to achieve these objectives, the Onwards and Upwards project will conduct quantitative and qualitative research with Aurora programme participants, their mentors and women in higher education institutions who have not taken part in Aurora.
The project began in April 2015 and will run until March 2020.
Surveys with Aurora Programme Participants
The Onwards and Upwards project team will conduct a series of online surveys with six cohorts of Aurora programmes participants. The surveys represent the main building block of the study.
Interviews with Aurora Programme Participants
The Onwards and Upwards project team will recruit eight women per cohort for cohorts 2-5 to take part in interviews to explore career histories and experiences in higher education institutions. The interviews will be used to develop a rich understanding of Aurora participants’ evolving views of themselves, their careers and their leadership styles, and the role they think Aurora has played in that.
Diaries with Aurora Programme Participants
The Onwards and Upwards project team will recruit eight women per cohort for cohorts 3-5 to fill in structured diaries around specific themes in order to explore perceptions and experiences of working in universities and higher education colleges.
Surveys with a Comparison Group
The team will survey women who have not taken part in the Aurora programme. This ‘comparison group’. The comparison group will be recruited through nominations from Aurora participants and invitations sent via Aurora Champions.
Interviews with Aurora Mentors
The final element of the study will be interviews with Aurora mentors: we plan to interview eight mentors per cohort for the cohorts groups 2-5. We will ask those who take part in the Aurora participant interviews if we can contact their mentor. Where this is agreed, we will conduct a brief interview with mentors to ascertain their perceptions of the mentee’s development in the 15-18 months after their participation in Aurora.
In accordance with the ethical requirements for conducting research the Onwards and Upwards project team have completed relevant forms and gained approval for the work carried out for this study.
• All information on participants will be treated as confidential and participants will not be identifiable unless agreed in advance, and subject to the requirement of law.
• Storage of the data will comply with the Data Protection Act 1998.
• Audio recordings will be stored in a secure place and not released for any use by third parties.
• Audio recordings will be destroyed within ten years of the completion of the investigation.
The Project Team
Dr Fehmidah Munir is Reader in Health Psychology in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Fehmidah has 15 years organisational and higher education research experience. Her strengths include conducting longitudinal surveys and data analysis. Fehmidah is also Athena SWAN Champion for her School and Chair of School Equality and Diversity Advisory Group.
Dr Sarah Barnard is a Lecturer in the School of Business and Economics. Sarah has over ten years hands-on experience carrying out research projects using quantitative and qualitative social research methods. Her expertise is in gender, equality and diversity, sociology of higher education.
Professor John Arnold is Professor of Organisational Behaviour in the School of Business and Economics. John has nearly 30 years’ experience of work psychology research with individuals and organisations. He has conducted longitudinal projects with allied health professionals and graduate trainees in large companies.
Dr Sara Bosley is based in the School of Business and Economics. Sara has worked as an academic and freelance researcher, and as a careers adviser and coach. Her PhD gathered qualitative data to explore individuals’ perceptions of the role of others in shaping their careers. She has a wide experience of research on career and learning development.
The Advisory Group
Gary Loke, (Chair), Director of Knowledge, Insights, Innovation and Delivery, Advance HE; Professor Jackie Ford, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Studies, Durham University Business School; Professor Jacky Lumby, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Southampton; Professor Lorna McKee, Emeritus Professor of Management and Health Services Research, University of Aberdeen; Dan Aldridge, Office for Students; Alison Johns, (ex officio) Chief Executive, Advance HE; Jo Midgley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience), University of the West of England.