1. Project

Dear Diary: Equality Implications for Female Academics of Changes to Working Practices In Lockdown and Beyond.


Principal Investigator: Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas, Birmingham City University


This research investigated UK female academics’ experiences of working practices, career progression and academic identity during and beyond COVID lockdown.  It’s aim is to identify ways in which remote working and other shifts in higher education (HE) practice impacted existing gender inequalities in the sector and to highlight overarching gender equality challenges in the short and longer-term.

The project used a hybrid research methodology Zimmerman and Weider’s (1977) anthropological tool, the diary, diary-interview method or DDIM.  The combined methods enabled collection of rich, subjective data.  The creation of this illustrated digital archive then used techniques of graphic social science to present and commentate on the findings.

#DearDiaryProject is funded by an SRHE Research Award 2020.  SRHE is a UK-based international learned society concerned to advance understanding of higher education, especially through the insights, perspectives and knowledge offered by systematic research and scholarship.

Dr Kate Carruthers Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow in Social Sciences at Birmingham City University.  Two Research Assistants have worked on the project: Dr Bally Kaur, now a Research Assistant in the Institute of Education at the University of Derby and Hannah Malpass, final year PhD candidate at Birmingham City University.

Many thanks to Birmingham City University’s Jaspreet Bhoghal, Research Development and Support Officer and Paula Deenah, Senior Finance Officer.

Last but not least, many thanks to Ben Robertson, Web Designer for his creative and technical solutions, hosting – and endless patience!



Principal Investigator
Kate is a Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham City University; an academic, artist and author.  Her research specialises in gender and contemporary higher education, creative research methodologies and dissemination.  She has worked in UK higher education for over twenty years, initially as a widening participation programme manager prior to completing her PhD (2016) at Birkbeck, University of London and moving to Birmingham City University as a Research Fellow and Athena Swan Project Manager.  Her graphic social science practice includes the graphic essay My Brilliant Career? An Investigation (2018), a visual essay Being Beyond Binary (2019) and the graphic novella Five ‘Survive’ Lockdown (2021).

Carruthers Thomas, K. (2021) Five ‘Survive’ Lockdown: A Graphic Novella. Sheffield: Mensa.
Carruthers Thomas, K.  (2021) Being Between Binary: Personal Narratives and Power Geometry: A Visual Essay.  In Special Issue: Here v There: Beyond Comparison in Queer and Sexuality Politics, (Browne, K. and Lalor, K. (eds). Sexualities.  [online] 27 April.
Carruthers Thomas, K. (2021) Gender and the University: Stories So Far and Spaces Between. In M.Murphy, C.Burke, C.Costa and R.Raaper (Eds). Social Theory and the Politics of Higher Education: Critical Perspectives on Institutional Research. p133-149. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Carruthers Thomas, K. 2020.  An alternative dynamics of research dissemination? The case of the g word tour.  Qualitative Research, 20, 2:1-13.
Carruthers Thomas, K., (2019). Gender as a Geography of Power. In G. Crimmins (Ed.) Strategies for Resisting Sexism in the Academy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Carruthers Thomas, K., (2019). Glass Sociological Fiction Zine edition #5 pp16-24.
Carruthers Thomas, K. (2018). Rethinking Student Belonging in Higher Education: From Bourdieu to Borderlands. London: Routledge.



Research Assistant
Hannah is a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at Birmingham City University; combining working as an academic and completing her own doctoral research. She is a qualified teacher, specialising in Early Years, and came to work in higher education three years ago after several years teaching in both the state and private sectors. Her doctoral research, due for completion in 2023, focuses on the relationships between social inequality and wellbeing for young children, with early outputs entitled We are All Born Equal? The Importance of Tackling Social Inequalities in the First Five Years (2021) and Rising Social Inequality Post Covid-19 – An Individual or a Societal Concern? (2022).