The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Laura Sheppard

Title: Gendering the Research Pipeline: A quantitative feminist geographical approach

Primary supervisor: Dr Jon Reades (CASA, UCL)

Second supervisor: Dr Richard Freeman (IOE, UCL)

Funding source: Economic and Social Research Council & the UBEL DTP

Start Date: September 2020

Projected End Date: September 2023

Laura studied her undergraduate degree in Geography with Quantitative Research Methods (with First Class honours) and her MRes degree in Advanced Quantitative Methods in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. After four years at Bristol, Laura joined CASA in September 2020 to complete her PhD as part of the UBEL DTP. Laura’s twitter is @laurahsheppard

Research summary
Women, non-binary people, and people from gender minorities are underrepresented in positions of power, seniority, and leadership within academia, with only 29% of UK professors identifying as female. At every part of the academic career path, female researchers leave in larger numbers than their male colleagues because of historic and systematic biases and discrimination within academia. Laura’s PhD examines a crucial part of the ‘leaky pipeline’ – that of the PhD student. Laura will examine the gendered patterns of PhD students in the UK using the British Library’s records on PhD theses. The British Library’s E-Thesis Online Service (EThOS) dataset is a collection of over 610,000 doctoral theses from UK universities, starting in the late 18th century.

The ‘gender’ of the author will be inferred from their name on the EThOS record using gender inferencing algorithms and Natural Language Processing (which comes with many ethical issues including re-enforcing the gender binary and misgendering individuals) followed by building a series of multilevel models to establish the gendered patterns of PhD students across different disciplines, departments, and universities and how that has varied over time.

Gender, Higher Education, Quantitative Geography, Feminist Geography, Inequalities