School of Politics and International Relations

Emily Pfefer

Supervisors: Professor Geraldine Healy (School of Business Management); Secondary: Dr. Rainbow Murray (School of Politics and International Relations)


Research topic: The Cloak of Silence: A Critical Analysis of the Relationship between the Culture of Pay Secrecy and the Gender Pay Gap within UK Higher Education
The Conservative government is currently finalising regulations to require large companies to report on their gender wage gaps. This policy has been a long time in development and faces criticism from labour and women’s advocates for not going far enough to address pervasive secrecy around wages in the UK. I aim to research the pervasive culture of wage secrecy and its relationship with the gender pay gap, using an organisational level intersectional lens based on Joan Acker’s (2006) Inequality Regimes. My specific area of focus will be on academic employees in UK higher education.  

Education/Professional Qualifications

  • BA Political Science – Policy Concentration (American University)
  • BA Communication, Legal Studies, Economics and Government (American University)
  • MSc Social Policy - European and Comparative Social Policy (The London School of Economics and Political Science)

Work Experience
After completing undergrad, I began work in government relations at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, DC, where I helped coordinate planning, research and training to prepare our health centres for changes under the Affordable Care Act. I also gave tours part-time at the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, which is the home of the National Woman’s Party – most notable for its role in the fight for women’s suffrage in the US. While at the LSE, I interned for a Liberal Democrat peer in the House of Lords. During this role, I was able to draft several floor speeches on issues of social mobility and help research and draft a party policy document on work life balance issues, which was passed by party membership in September of 2013. I have developed my professional research schools through a variety of temporary experiences, including at the American Association of University Women in DC and the Institute for Government and the Trades Union Congress in London. At AAUW, I have completed analyses of wage and education data. At the IfG, I provided literature review and research support for a project on parliamentary scrutiny, including helping to schedule and transcribe interviews. At the TUC, I conducted many analyses using the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and published a report on disabled people and employment in the UK.

Research Interests

  • Gender Equality
  • Employment Rights
  • Workplace Discrimination/Equal Pay
  • Trade Unions
  • US and UK comparisons