Although my research is focussed on women’s experiences of employment, I rarely get the opportunity to apply that work beyond the academy. We all face considerable pressures to produce research which is suitable for REF and meets disciplinary specific metrics. However, because my research explores employment and inequality I am always keen to explore opportunities for sharing that knowledge beyond the academy’s borders. It’s important that employers, government bodies, professional associations and trade unions are able to hear about the experiences of employees and how practices and policies create and reproduce inequalities. I was very fortunate to serve on the executive committee of the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association for 6 years, but my time as Chair ended in September 2016 and I was looking for something else to get involved with. I was looking for an opportunity which enabled me to make the best use of my skills and research, but was also not directly an academic role. I saw that the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) was recruiting for a Readers’ Advisory Panel and it seemed like an opportunity to do something very different to my normal work. IPSO was established as an independent regulator for newspapers and magazines within the UK. IPSO has a broad remit which includes developing codes of conduct for editors, is a hub for complaints from members of the public and providing an emergency hotline for those being harassed by journalists.
The Readers’ Advisory Panel is a new venture for IPSO and its remit is dynamic and evolving. I joined in the Autumn of 2016 as part of the first group of members. We are drawn from across the UK and a range of occupations and industries. With meetings held in London it also represents a chance for me to travel a bit. The panel will advise on policies from a ‘lay’ perspective since we are not drawn from the journalism industry. I hope sitting on the panel will provide an opportunity to use my research knowledge and apply it to the policies of IPSO from an equality and diversity perspective. I am particularly concerned about the representation of women in the media. This is a new area for me, having recently published a paper on women leaders and their media representation (see Kapasi et al., 2016). However, in the current political climate I also think we as academics are duty bound to work outside our traditional boundaries to inform public debate as we can. This may include using our research directly, or our skills more indirectly, for example, ensuring evidence based policies and practices. I am looking forward to working with people from outside of academia to use my skills to inform the work of a new and developing organisation.
Kapasi, I., Sang, K., & Sitko, R. (2016). Gender, authentic leadership and identity: analysis of women leaders’ autobiographies. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 31(5/6).