Researcher Education and Development Scholarship International Conference

Hosted by the University of Leeds. Wednesday 12th October 2022

The 8th annual REDS International Conference 2022 online and FREE to attend

REDS 2022 ‘How do we stop losing talent in research careers?’

Our 8th Annual Researcher Education and Development Scholarship (REDS) Conference will again be online and free to attend on Wednesday 12th October 2022. Click this link for our list of confirmed presentations.

Our keynote presentation:

‘Our expertise is going to waste!’ Reflections on dis/engagement of women and students from marginalised groups in research activity 

Professor Louise Owusu-Kwarteng. 

Associate Dean for Student Success in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Greenwich 

This keynote speech provides some of my reflections on the (dis) engagement of particular groups (e.g women and students from ‘marginalised’ groups) in research activities within higher education. I explore how, as Aiston (2011; unpaginated) suggests we experience education differently. More specifically, we are ‘position[ed] as ‘other’ [which] contributes to the belief that our ‘work is different and viewed as unequal’. Furthermore, we are ‘likely to be heavily involved in teaching rather than research, informal counselling of students (pastoral care) and committee membership’. However, the dominant discourse within higher education revolves around the notion of the ‘expert’. (Aiston 2011: Unpaginated), which includes people who have produced considerable research in noted journals and who have won a large number of research grants. In relation to BAME women, Jones (2006) June (2014), and latterly I (Owusu-Kwarteng 2019) observed that in many ways there is an unspoken institutional expectation to provide additional pastoral support for students from marginalised groups, as they regard us as mentors and in some instances, third parents. This, is in conjunction with the necessary academic support which helps to facilitate retention and reduce attainment differences. If we take the aforementioned factors together, it often means that we have less time to undertake research activities. Furthermore, this kind of work is undervalued.  

In relation to students from marginalised groups, does their (dis)- engagement stem from limited opportunities, rooted in low expectations of their attainment, lack of representation/role models who are successful researchers? To that end, I pose the following questions: 

  1. How do we redress the balance to ensure that there is equality in terms of opportunities for research? 
  2. Do we need to re look at what counts as an ‘expert’ in HE? And also re consider what is seen as ‘valuable’ work in this context? 
  3. With regards to students from marginalised groups – how do we reframe the narratives which assume their ‘underattainment’?  Do initiatives aimed at addressing the attainment ‘issue’ need to go wider and include opportunities for research? What role can mentorship from undergraduate level (e.g through offices of undergraduate research etc) play here? 

Biography: Professor Louise Owusu-Kwarteng. 

I am a Professor in Applied Sociology, and Associate Dean for Student Success in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Greenwich, where I have worked since 2005. My research challenges negative narratives around Black academic attainment. Other research interests include around ethnicity and identity, and sociological autobiography.  I was also the Undergraduate Research director for my Faculty between 2018-2022. In this role I oversaw 25 Staff-Student collaborative projects and shared best practice at Council of Undergraduate conferences in the US.  Everything I do informs my teaching, support of students and work as an Associate Dean.  

I am a just about bass player, with a ‘diverse’ music taste, which ranges from late 60s African highlife, 90s rave and hip hop to 2010s bass house and anything in between. I like football (sometimes!!) – and have been a Nottingham Forest Supporter since I was 4. Naturally I am very pleased about our promotion to the Premiership!