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Early career, gender, and crisis in higher education: reflections on negotiating and navigating identity and on pedagogical experiences

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Abstract:

1. Objectives or purposes

In this article, the results of a 2012-2013 UK Fulbright Scholar research project, I lay out a conceptualization of the intersectionality of early career, gender, and crisis. I will first give a brief introduction and overview of the study. Second, I will explore new ways to operationalize “crisis” and “early career” by tracing some strains of relevant literature. Third, I will employ participant examples from the focus groups: In the first section of analysis of the participant responses, I will examine how crisis affects the identities of early career academics. In the second section of analysis, I will focus on early career academics’ relationship with higher education pedagogies. In both sections, issues of gender are interwoven. Finally, I will conclude with some recommendations for furthering a research agenda around this intersectionality.

2. Theoretical framework

In this paper, I focus on operationalizing gender, crisis, and early career using feminist, globalization, and critical theories. Questions of identity are highlighted. I then examine the intersectionality of these terms and its implications in higher education, raising some key questions within this research agenda.


3. Methods
4. Data sources

From December 2012-March 2013, I conducted a small-scale qualitative study, carrying out 9 focus groups with 44 higher education academic staff in four countries ---Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the United States. The lecturers were recruited from an international research network focused on education and social justice.

Participants were asked about strategies, inequalities, and control and autonomy as it related to their teaching, as well as how their teaching related to their other work in higher education and about opportunities to challenges any structures, policies or practices that negatively affected their teaching and/or relationships with students.

The overarching methodological strategy of this article is to use nuanced examples of participant experiences from the focus groups to illustrate the issues the study raises for a “sociology of global higher education” (David, 2011, 161).


5. Results and/or conclusions
The results are divided into the following two main sections: 1) negotiating and navigating identity and 2) pedagogical experiences:

Section 1: Negotiating and navigating identity

Subsection 1: Trajectories
In this section, I discuss examples of issues that arise when people who want but don’t get university jobs, or who are held back in their trajectory by current structures. I discuss a need to explore and value alternative trajectories which often include fluid movement in and out of academy, seeing these alternatives as resistance to a structure that can no longer respond to participants’ needs (such as securing jobs) in the same way.

Subsection 2: Autonomy
Questions discussed in this section include issues of advising early career academics and othering of early career academics.

Subsection 3: Vulnerability and Responsibility
Using participant examples, I also discuss vulnerability and responsibility in relationship to support and fear, including the pressures from Bologna, the tightening of the university, and her workload. In addition, I discuss issues of disposability (self-perceived disposability) of an early career academic.

These issues all affect early career academics’ experiences in the classroom.

Section 2: Pedagogical experiences of early career academics

Subsection 1: Intellectual agency and intellectual identity
In this subsection I discuss the abruptness in the transition process from student to professor which punctuated the participants’ experiences. In the transition, they feel challenged by a lack of intellectual agency and identity. The participants go on to connect an inherent lack of support with a need for more pedagogical methodologies.

Subsection 2: Fitting into the institution
Through the participants’ experiences, I discuss the fact that there are few spaces in the university for early career academics. I go on to note that because of this, I would argue that the same practices continue to be reproduced. Thus, the challenge exists of where/how to develop inclusive pedagogies that can challenge existing exclusive HEI practices.

Subsection 3: Early career, masculinities, and pedagogy
In this section, I ask, what privileges do male early career academics benefit from differently from their female peers?

6. Significance of the study to the field of comparative or international education

In this exploration of identity and pedagogy through the comparative focus group cases, it becomes apparent that (lack of) power and control are interwoven throughout the intersectionality of early career, gender, and crisis. By challenging these nuanced issues of power and control and how they are manifested, we are able to create more inclusive higher education spaces and pedagogies.

I discuss future work around this intersectionality and further research questions to expand this agenda.
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MLA Citation:

Misiaszek, Lauren. "Early career, gender, and crisis in higher education: reflections on negotiating and navigating identity and on pedagogical experiences" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p707038_index.html>

APA Citation:

Misiaszek, L. I. , 2014-03-10 "Early career, gender, and crisis in higher education: reflections on negotiating and navigating identity and on pedagogical experiences" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p707038_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: 1. Objectives or purposes

In this article, the results of a 2012-2013 UK Fulbright Scholar research project, I lay out a conceptualization of the intersectionality of early career, gender, and crisis. I will first give a brief introduction and overview of the study. Second, I will explore new ways to operationalize “crisis” and “early career” by tracing some strains of relevant literature. Third, I will employ participant examples from the focus groups: In the first section of analysis of the participant responses, I will examine how crisis affects the identities of early career academics. In the second section of analysis, I will focus on early career academics’ relationship with higher education pedagogies. In both sections, issues of gender are interwoven. Finally, I will conclude with some recommendations for furthering a research agenda around this intersectionality.

2. Theoretical framework

In this paper, I focus on operationalizing gender, crisis, and early career using feminist, globalization, and critical theories. Questions of identity are highlighted. I then examine the intersectionality of these terms and its implications in higher education, raising some key questions within this research agenda.


3. Methods
4. Data sources

From December 2012-March 2013, I conducted a small-scale qualitative study, carrying out 9 focus groups with 44 higher education academic staff in four countries ---Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the United States. The lecturers were recruited from an international research network focused on education and social justice.

Participants were asked about strategies, inequalities, and control and autonomy as it related to their teaching, as well as how their teaching related to their other work in higher education and about opportunities to challenges any structures, policies or practices that negatively affected their teaching and/or relationships with students.

The overarching methodological strategy of this article is to use nuanced examples of participant experiences from the focus groups to illustrate the issues the study raises for a “sociology of global higher education” (David, 2011, 161).


5. Results and/or conclusions
The results are divided into the following two main sections: 1) negotiating and navigating identity and 2) pedagogical experiences:

Section 1: Negotiating and navigating identity

Subsection 1: Trajectories
In this section, I discuss examples of issues that arise when people who want but don’t get university jobs, or who are held back in their trajectory by current structures. I discuss a need to explore and value alternative trajectories which often include fluid movement in and out of academy, seeing these alternatives as resistance to a structure that can no longer respond to participants’ needs (such as securing jobs) in the same way.

Subsection 2: Autonomy
Questions discussed in this section include issues of advising early career academics and othering of early career academics.

Subsection 3: Vulnerability and Responsibility
Using participant examples, I also discuss vulnerability and responsibility in relationship to support and fear, including the pressures from Bologna, the tightening of the university, and her workload. In addition, I discuss issues of disposability (self-perceived disposability) of an early career academic.

These issues all affect early career academics’ experiences in the classroom.

Section 2: Pedagogical experiences of early career academics

Subsection 1: Intellectual agency and intellectual identity
In this subsection I discuss the abruptness in the transition process from student to professor which punctuated the participants’ experiences. In the transition, they feel challenged by a lack of intellectual agency and identity. The participants go on to connect an inherent lack of support with a need for more pedagogical methodologies.

Subsection 2: Fitting into the institution
Through the participants’ experiences, I discuss the fact that there are few spaces in the university for early career academics. I go on to note that because of this, I would argue that the same practices continue to be reproduced. Thus, the challenge exists of where/how to develop inclusive pedagogies that can challenge existing exclusive HEI practices.

Subsection 3: Early career, masculinities, and pedagogy
In this section, I ask, what privileges do male early career academics benefit from differently from their female peers?

6. Significance of the study to the field of comparative or international education

In this exploration of identity and pedagogy through the comparative focus group cases, it becomes apparent that (lack of) power and control are interwoven throughout the intersectionality of early career, gender, and crisis. By challenging these nuanced issues of power and control and how they are manifested, we are able to create more inclusive higher education spaces and pedagogies.

I discuss future work around this intersectionality and further research questions to expand this agenda.


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