Call for contributions

In the wake of #Lock Her Up, #MeToo, and the Kavanaugh hearings, the world’s gaze has been firmly transfixed on Hollywood, the US Government, and the subsequent feminist backlash against the silencing and shaming of vulnerable women by powerful men. However, away from the glare of world politics, the casting couch and college frat parties, hidden away in the exclusive ivory tower is the equally disturbing yet lesser known phenomenon of women being silenced within the academic community, often by other women.

As evidenced by the growing body of scholarship on bullying and harassment in higher education (e.g., Elder et al, 2019), the need to expose the abuse of women in academia has never been greater. Inspired by our own stories of silencing and shaming in the academy, we believe that sharing our stories is our most powerful means of collective activism. In gathering and publishing firsthand narratives from women at all levels of academe, in institutions around the world, we examine how careers have been adversely affected by bullying at the hands of managers and peers – and we consider the implications for institutions of higher education.


Our aim is to produce a truly international text which incorporates the experiences of tenured, untenured, adjunct, and administrative staff, and graduate students in all disciplines. To achieve this, we need your help.

You are invited to contribute to this book in a range of ways:


Stories should be written in the first person and be between 1500-300 words. You might like to explore one or more of the following themes:

  • When someone stands in your path: blocks to advancement
  • That was my idea: when your contributions are seconded by another
  • Behaviours in the boardroom/staffroom: when your contributions are derided or belittled
  • I said/couldn’t say no: sexual harassment in the academy
  • The (lack of) color of the academy: bullying and women of color/indigenous cultures.
  • We really don’t count: when academics bully administrative staff.  
  • The powerlessness of the graduate student
  • I thought she would support me: women bullying women
  • Tales of effective resistance

For more information about how to write the story and who to send it to, please click here:


If you don’t want to write your story, or don’t have the time, but would like it to be part of our research, we would love to interview you about your experiences of bullying in the academy.  Interviews may be conducted face-to-face or by Skype.

To find out more about the interview process click here:

To request an interview with the researchers, please click here:


Maybe you haven’t had experiences of bullying yourself, but you know of colleagues who have – or maybe there is someone in your institution who is struggling with a bullying situation of which you are unaware. We would appreciate your effort to spread this invitation to colleagues and students in your institution/discipline or by pointing others to our website.


In this book we use a combination of storytelling and story analysis to explore the often-complex abusive relationships in higher education. Storytelling, which sees the story as the product of the enquiry, and invites the reader into the story, to engage at both emotional and rational levels with the narrator’s experience (Frank, 2000), is particularly pertinent to this study as a method of empowerment. The researcher-as-storyteller understands the story itself as containing analytical techniques, theory, and dialogical structures (Bleakley, 2005; Ellis, 2004) which can speak for themselves:

In a narrative analysis, storytellers emphasize that participants’ stories of the self are told for the sake of others just as much as for themselves. Hence, the ethical and heartfelt claim is for a dialogic relationship with a listener… that requires engagement from within, not analysis from outside, the story and narrative identity. Consequently, the goal and responsibility is to evoke and bear witness to a situation … inviting the reader into a relationship, enticing people to think and feel with the story being told as opposed to thinking about it’.

Smith & Sparkes, 2006, p. 185

This book will comprise multiple narratives (1500-3000 words) of women’s experience of bulling in the academy. These narratives will be framed by two analytical essays, using story analysis to examine themes that emerge from the data as a whole, e.g. patterns of bullying, systemic and personal rationales for bullying behaviors, bullying of particular groups, and effective methods of resistance. The study draws on a range of literatures including bullying in the workplace bullying in higher education, women in the workplace, women’s experience of workplace bullying, and women and power.

All stories submitted for the project (whether written or oral) will contribute to the entire data set for this study, and will inform the analytical essays. Some stories (c30) will be chosen to be included in full to represent the key themes emerging from the data. While all stories will go through rigorous de-identification, stories that are chosen for full inclusion will also go through a second consent process.


We recognise that telling stories of bullying is a risky business. We are, therefore, concerned to keep all contributors safe. We have been through a rigorous human ethics process, and have sound processes in place to protect the identity of contributors. All contributions will be anonymous, and we will work with you to ensure that anything published cannot be identified in terms of individuals or institutions. For more information about our ethical procedures and safety measures, see

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