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School of Business and Management

ESRC LISS DTP CASE Studentship: the maternal body at work

The School of Business and Management (SBM) invites applications for a Doctoral Research Studentship on the topic of: The maternal body at work: women’s experiences of accessing employment rights in relation to fertility, pregnancy and birth.

This CASE studentship is a joint project between SBM and leading maternity rights charity Maternity Action, who will provide supervision alongside the Queen Mary academic supervision team, as well as access to policymakers, networks and their staff expertise.

The project

The project examines the physical and mental impact of women's experiences of fertility, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding on employment, highlighting gaps in employer expectations and provision for pregnant women and women returning to work after childbirth, which may prevent women from accessing maternity-related employment rights. Before the COVID-19 pandemic research showed that up to three-quarters of new mothers had a negative or possibly discriminatory experience during their pregnancy or maternity leave, leading many to leave their jobs. This research takes on a greater urgency as many now fear that economic recession will result in a new wave of unfair redundancies and unlawful discrimination towards pregnant women and new mothers as businesses and organisations seek to adjust to the new economic circumstances. In partnership with the UK’s leading maternity rights charity Maternity Action, this study will examine the dissonance between employer expectations, attitudes and legal understandings and women’s lived realities and seek to locate more precisely where intervention could bring about change.

Through a mixture of methods, including a possible survey of employers and employees, focus groups and semi-structured interviews with women, facilitated by Maternity Action, this project will explore the tensions that arise for women when trying to access their employment rights as a result of, for example, fertility treatment, pregnancy-related illness, health and safety concerns in pregnancy, and birth and birth-related concerns as well as breastfeeding.

The award

The studentship is open to UK and international students and for a full-time or part-time PhD programme starting in autumn 2021.

This studentship may be either 1+3 (one year Masters followed by three year PhD), or +3 (three year PhD only, available for those who will have completed appropriate masters level social science research training). If the studentship is offered as a 1+3 (Masters and PhD) then the student will be required to undertake one of the Masters programmes listed under the relevant Pathway.

Awards are tenable for up to three years full-time equivalent study, and cover tuition fees and a maintenance stipend at the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)  London rate (c.£17,285 p.a. full-time, £8,643 part-time; 2021/22 rates tbc). Subject to funding arrangements, holders of research studentships will have the opportunity to teach up to 4 hours per week in the second and third years of their study.

The School of Business and Management

SBM’s research strategy since its inception has been to sustain and enhance a distinctive research profile and ensure a supportive and intellectually challenging business and management research culture emphasising the interconnected nature of:

  • The economic, societal and historical contexts,
  • Social justice issues in business and management; and
  • Networks and governance in the private, public and third sectors.

This studentship will be supervised by Dr Patrizia Kokot-Blamey and Prof Tessa Wright of the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED), an interdisciplinary research centre within SBM, undertaking critical scholarship at the leading edge of equality and diversity research internationally. Please feel free to contact Dr Kokot-Blamey or Prof Wright to discuss your application.

How to apply

You should apply for your place at QMUL via the online portal by 17:00 on 26 February 2021. On the online application form, you should indicate that you would like your application to be considered for the SBM LISS DTP CASE Studentship. You will not need to submit your own PhD proposal, but please ensure that your personal statement includes the reasons for your interest in this particular topic and details of relevant experience (work and academic) in relation to this project. Please also state what research training and professional preparation you have already received and what further training you think you will need. In addition, please also complete the ESRC LISS DTP CASE Studentship application form [DOC 118KB]

How your application will be assessed

Your application will be considered by academics in SBM, including the supervisors, and staff at Maternity Action.

Applicants should ideally hold (or expect to be awarded) a high 2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. A Master’s degree and/or research experience in a relevant area would be advantageous. It is very important that applications state the reasons for their interest in studying this particular topic and provide evidence of relevant experience in relation to the project.

Applicants will be invited to attend an online interview on March 17th 2021.

The studentships cover all tuition fees, and provide a grant for living expenses at UK Research Council rates for London (c.£17,285 p.a. full-time, £8,643 part-time; 2021/22 rates tbc). Awards are made for the full duration of the period of fee liability for the agreed course. Please note that these awards cannot be deferred.