Avoiding the burst pipeline post-COVID-19: Drivers of female academic careers in Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Personnel Review




School of Business and Law




Sharafizad, F., Brown, K., Jogulu, U., & Omari, M. (2022). Avoiding the burst pipeline post-COVID-19: Drivers of female academic careers in Australia. Personnel Review. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-12-2021-0909


Purpose: Literature around the careers of female academics is targeted mainly toward identifying and examining career progression inhibitors, while the drivers appear largely unexplored. This paper aims to contribute to contemporary knowledge by identifying drivers to the career progression of female academics in Australia. With COVID-19 currently impacting the careers of female academics this knowledge can assist universities and human resource (HR) professionals in developing policies and practices to better facilitate female academic career progression. Design/methodology/approach: Empirically this paper draws on a qualitative study of 18 male and 29 female academics, as well as nine senior university stakeholders. The authors employed semi-structured interviews and a novel methodology, Draw, Write, Reflect. Findings: In line with attribution theory, senior stakeholders mainly identified organisational efforts, including leadership, gender equity endeavours, recruitment and promotion approaches, as well as a construct known as “relative to opportunity considerations”, as drivers of female academics’ career progression. Female academics, however, largely attributed their career progression to personal factors, such as family support, informal mentoring, and determination and persistence. Practical implications: The findings have implications for universities and HR practices seeking to facilitate female academic career progression. Implementation of the drivers identified may enhance female academics’ abilities to progress their careers. Originality/value: By focussing on the drivers of, rather than the barriers to, female academic careers, the research is novel in its identification of a previously unexplored mismatch between organisational attribution and individual attribution of career progression drivers thereby advancing knowledge of gender differences in academic careers.



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