This research began, as research often does, with a conversation between colleagues. Susan Thomas and I work on opposite sides of the Tasman Sea (which stretches between Australia and New Zealand) but we had been colleagues and friends for many years. In 2018, we were working on a special edition of a journal together, and we were both going through a bad patch at work. We shared our experiences over a number of months, by email or Skype, and one day I mentioned to Susan how helpful it was for me to talk about this with her – how sharing the story made a difference both to how I felt and the decisions I made to address my situation. “We should write a book about this, about the bullying of women in higher education!” I said jokingly. I hadn’t expected her to write back with an enthusiastic “YES!!” We tested out our idea, cautiously: did other women, our colleagues, in higher education feel that telling these stories as a form of collective activism would make a difference? Yes, they did. We read the literature: and while there were books about bullying in higher education, and about women’s experiences of bullying, there was no literature that we could find that prioritized the voices of women in higher education speaking about bullying – that enabled them to be heard. And hence the project began to take shape: what was needed was not a conventional scholarly text, but a text that used story telling as a way communicating a collective story – and as a form of analysis.
This week we are launching our research, sending out the call for contributions, and hoping that that call will travel around the world, into the mail boxes of women working in institutions of higher education, in academic and non-academic roles, tenured and non-tenured positions, in all disciplines. If you receive this call for contributions, please send it on to colleagues who might be interested. And if you have a story of harassment or bullying, please consider contributing to this project. For more information about what’s involved, click here:
Image sourced from: ttps://atlantablackstar.com/2012/10/31/