The power of networks in the gendered academy

Emily Laura Yarrow

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    This chapter investigates the role of academic networks and social media in the context of research evaluation in the gendered academy. Primarily, it focusses on the linkages between social media engagement and academic networks in the United Kingdom (UK). Recent research into women’s lived experiences of research evaluation in the UK, and academic networks is drawn upon. It takes a two-pronged approach, drawing on empirical academic research into women’s lived experiences of networks, social media as a networking tool, as well as the author’s own reflections and experiences of UK academia, and the inclusion of vignettes from other women scholars. The use of and engagement with social media as an academic networking and awareness raising tool is being increasingly recognized, not only by academics themselves, but also by universities and funding bodies, and as means whereby to enhance teaching, learning, research, and professional practice (Doyle, 2020). However, the main focus of the chapter is to explore the role of networks and social media for women academics in the gendered academy, with attention also paid to the notion of the strength of weak ties (Granovetter, 1973, p. 1360), i.e., the notion that relatively weak ties such as an acquaintance can still be powerful and helpful, and build fruitful bridges to other networks. Through vignettes, colleagues illustrate ways to navigate the [gendered] academic networks. Anecdotally, there is often a misconception that a network and/or connection needs to be deeply established to be fruitful, but oftentimes, even a very loose connection or small number of interactions can be helpful (Granovetter, 1973), particularly when navigating a context such as academia which is deeply nepotistic (M¨ahlck, 2003; Morley, 2005; Van den Brink & Benschop, 2012a;Wenner°as &Wold, 1997). This chapter deliberates some recommendations and success stories, which may be insightful for others and help mitigate against gender inequality in academia. It is essential to be clear that this chapter is not about “fixing the women” but rather serves to highlight the deeply engrained nature of gender inequality in academia, how to navigate the gendered landscape, in part through networks and social media.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWomen Thriving in Academia
    EditorsMarian Mahat
    PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Print)9781839822292
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021

    Publication series

    NameSurviving and Thriving in Academia


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