Visual E-exhibition

This project will recruit 6 women leaders as co-researchers to co-produce a collective ethnography (Pahl, 2016) of women’s experiences as leaders (Lipton and Crimmins 2019).

Each co-researcher will use photo-journaling (Barton et al 1993), symbolic objects (Kendall, 2016) collaging (Butler-Kisber and Poldma, 2010) to create an ‘auto-ethnography’ that explores their own experiences and context.

Autoethnography combines elements of autobiography (using hindsight to write retroactively and selectively about past experiences) and ethnography (studying cultural beliefs and practices through being a participant observer) to facilitate understanding of that culture for insiders and outsiders (Ellis et al., 2011: 274). Auto-ethnographies will then be brought together to build a ‘collective ethnography’. The analysis that emerges from this action will provide new insights into women’s experiences and will generate at set of recommendations for change.

This work will generate a number of outputs including a visual ‘e-exhibition’ which will feature on this page of the EnPOWER website.

Peer Researchers Workshop

EnPOWER Peer Researchers were involved in a two-stage process:  

  1. creating an auto-ethnographyexploring experiences and practices as leaders or aspiring leaders in higher education  
  2. building a collaborative ethnographyfocusing on key themes, questions and shared experiences  


Peer Researchers were first invited to take part in a Workshop on 1 February 2023, led by Kate Carruthers Thomas. In preparation for the workshop, they were asked to post their thoughts and visual contributions about:

  • the timeline of their careers to date in higher education  
  • a day in their working life as a leader or aspiring leader in higher education 
  • their experiences or practices as a leader or aspiring leader  

on the first Peer Researcher Padlet

Their contributions sparked off discussion about:

  • balancing, carrying or juggling different responsibilities at work and at home
  • cultural and legal structures which affect women's leadership opportunities in Vietnam higher education 
  • long working days and having to work harder for the same opportunities as male colleagues
  • invisibility and different valuing of women’s work in Vietnam

Collaborative ethnography

Following the Workshop, Peer Researchers were asked to continue these discussions via two further Padlets:

Peer Researcher Padlet 2 ('to carry') 

The Vietnamese language has multiple verbs for ‘to carry’ depending what is being carried and how, also to ‘carry off’ ‘to carry out’ etc. Peer Researchers were asked to reflect on these variations in relation to their professional and personal identities.

Peer Researcher Padlet 3 (Questions for the future)

This provided a space for Peer Researchers to consider some key questions emerging from their discussions and the project as a whole:

  • how can legal structures better support women’s leadership?
  • how could cultural/family structures better support women’s leadership?
  • do we have to work harder than our male colleagues for the same rewards?
  • how can women’s work in HE be made more visible, more valued?

All three Peer Researcher padlets can be accessed from the EnPOWER Padlet Wall which also contains links to the project website and blogs.