Collaborative learning circles

  • Masika, Rachel (PI)
  • Wisker, Gina (CoI)

Project Details


Funded by the British Academy, this project aimed to address gender imbalances in the professional development of female academics through research skills training, project development and supervisory practice enhancements. The University of Brighton in partnership with the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr reached out to postgraduate researchers, career researchers, supervisors and research project leaders at Salahaddin University, American University of Iraq Sulaimania, University of Sulaimania, University of Duhok, Soran University and the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr.

The objectives of this project were to:

> contribute to the building of a qualified and skilled research workforce in the region
help female academics to overcome challenges in developing as researchers and supervisors
> scope the research capacity development needs of female academics
> provide training in research development and supervision
> enable participants to develop their research development capacities by developing their own research.

Key findings

The British Academy funding covered the development of female academics as researchers and supervisors in the social sciences and humanities. Training initiatives for 40 female academics over two years strengthened women’s positions in academe, supporting broader social development goals. Networking and enquiry groups reaching 200 women provided fora for the exchange of skills and knowledge, in-depth exploration of gender issues within the context of the Higher Education (HE) sector in Iraq and building blocks for increased women’s representation in leadership positions.

Institutionally and strategically, the project raised awareness of female academics’ experiences in higher education and increased commitment of senior managers in some of the participating universities to explore the issues raised by our collaborative research. The elaboration of a model of research development (research skills development complemented with practical initiatives and researching the process and outcomes) in cross-cultural contexts provided a viable prototypical research development programme that can be scaled up and applied in different countries and to varied disciplines.

Project participants in the Kurdistan region of Iraq were inspired by the project to initiate their own research and development activities.Two notable projects include the female academic network (FAN) initiated by the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr and research investigating female participation at the University of Salahhadin. FAN is a concrete and sustainable initiative arising from the project set up to empower and support female academics and hosts networking events and activities. Participants in these networking events and activities have also been inspired to take the lead and set up their own workshops demonstrating the multiplier effect of our project.

Project participants researching their institutions found that there were socio-cultural issues, personal factors and institutional practices that constrained female researchers’ career trajectories and provided examples of strategies that established female academics had embraced to navigate their professional advancement. Read the paper Female academics’ research capacities in Kurdistan region of Iraq: socio-cultural Issues, personal factors and institutional practices article in Gender and Education for more information.

Research training workshops, capacity development programmes and enquiry groups attended by over 200 female researchers.

Research conducted by participants within their own institutions and findings presented to senior managers.

Two symposia in Erbil (at the University of Kurdistan-Hewlêr in January 2012) and Brighton (at the University of Brighton in December 2012) on the theme of Women in Higher Education in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and the Middle East.

Journal article
Masika, R, Wisker, G, Akreyi, K, Dabbagh, L, Golmohamad, H, Bendixen, L and Crawford, K (2014) Female academics’ research capacities in Kurdistan region of Iraq: socio-cultural Issues, personal factors and institutional practices, Gender and Education, 26 (1) 52-69.

Newspaper article
Bendixen, L (2013) Female Academic Networks in Kurdistan, Kurdish Globe newspaper, 15th July.

Conference dissemination
Wisker, G and Golmohamad, H (2012) Developing women leaders and managers in Higher Education, First Conference of the United Arab Emirates Gender and Women Studies Consortium: Gender and Women’s Studies in the Arab Region, American University of Sharjah, UAE.
Effective start/end date1/10/1031/08/13


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