Over the last four decades, universities have become increasingly corporatised. Managerialist cost-minimisation measures dominating this industry have increased precarious employment among academic staff, often women, in order to meet the current demands for teaching and research. Many people in precarious employment with short-term or casual contracts are unseen. They often are not integrated with permanent academic staff, such as through professional development, email lists, meetings, and social events. In this presentation, we will: (a) share themes from a co-operative inquiry into how precarity may be experienced by academic women in Australia, and (b) consider collegial actions that can help address the challenges of precarity. Our presentation aims to empower all in the university system; question myths such as ‘people should be grateful for the opportunity to work for less’ and narrate stories from respected colleagues from research in precarious employment. Strategies will be offered regarding how to address precarious work in academia and discourage segregation between colleagues in precarious and permanent positions. We advocate for a new workplace narrative that supports people in permanent academic positions and in precarious positions so all can stand together and be respected, and that encourages just outcomes where all can succeed.

This research was produced for the chapter ‘Precarious academia: women’s employment in Australian Universities’ submitted for publication in forthcoming book Gender, Feminist and Queer Studies: power, privilege and inequality in a time of neoliberal conservatism.


ConferenceANZSWWER (Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research) Symposium
Abbreviated titleLived Experience in social work and human services
OtherThe practice, education and research contexts of social work and human services must continuously evolve with the last two years of unprecedented disruption requiring significant reflection, flexibility, and change. The associated impacts and experiences have resulted in new ways of being, thinking and doing. This year’s symposium aims to give a platform for the social work and human services research, education and practice community to voice, listen and celebrate innovation, triumphs, challenges and creative practices. This year we also invite Honours students to present their research. We particularly welcome abstracts that consider the use of digital technologies across all themes. We seek contributions to the ANZSWWER 2022 Symposium that add to the discussion of the emergence and transformation of social work and human services under the following broad themes.
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