University College Dublin, College of Human SciencesSchool of Social JusticeEquality Studies Centre

Post-doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 (2 years, €31,270 per annum)

Project Equality of Opportunity in Practice: studies in working, learning and caring

HR Reference No. 007081

Position Summary

This is a two-year post-doctoral fellowship undertaking research for an IRC-funded project. The project involves operationalizing  and exploring, though empirical case studies, the way that international, national, and institutional-level equality policies relating to working, learning, and caring contexts,  are implemented in practice.  A particular focus of the study will be on the impact of neoliberalism and the financial crisis on inequality in the labour market, caring and education. Higher education – a context of working, learning, and caring – is the site for the field work and intensive case studies in a number  of higher educational institutions in Ireland have already begun.

Despite the existence of equal opportunities (EO) policies, underpinned by laws and EU directives, social and economic inequalities are rising across Ireland, Europe and the OECD, especially since the financial crisis. Higher education can be seen as an institution  that is involved both in redistributing welfare and in advancing class inequalities.  While most universities have subscribed  to and implemented EO policies, studies on the neoliberalisation of higher education in the age of academic capitalism have shown that new inequalities have arisen. The casualisation  and flexibilisation of labour, the outsourcing  of responsibility for basic services, the undermining  of the care functions of the university as a working and learning context, the erasure of the life-work boundaries due to increasing rates of competition (and self-exploitation)  of precarious  staff members, and the commericalisation and marketisation of education as a transaction, have been some of the most discussed features of higher education in the 21st century.

In this conjuncture, the aim of the project is to test the hypothesis  that the EO policies governing working, learning and caring are based on principles of formal equality of opportunity that do not take into account the changing complexity of the higher education institution  and do not achieve the ideals of equality and inclusion they purport to promote. A related  hypothesis to be examined is the claim that to have substantive equality (fair equality of opportunity), there  needs to be at least some degree of prior social distribution  of resources and power, some equalising of prior social and economic conditions.

The overall goal of the project is to create  a new energy around radical egalitarian thinking by linking academic research across diverse fields, including critical political economy, normative  political theory, feminist theories on care and justice, and social movement-led critical theories in fields such as disability studies, working class studies, and ethnic/ racial studies.  The project aims to use the results of the research in order to think through and inform future policies on the ways in which greater equality can be achieved in working, caring and learning, not only in higher education but in society more generally.

The successful candidate will work at the intersection of empirical research on changes  in the labour market and workplace regulations  in the neoliberal era, theories of in/equality and class stratification, and feminist ethics of care.

This  is  an  academic  research role,  where  you  will conduct   a  specified  programme  of  research supported by research training and  development under  the  supervision  and  direction  of a Principal Investigator.

The primary purpose  of the role is to further  develop your research skills and competences, including the  processes of publication  in peer-reviewed  academic publications,  the  development  of funding proposals,  the  mentorship of graduate students along with the  opportunity to develop  your skills in research led teaching.

In addition  to the Principal Duties and Responsibilities listed below, the successful candidate will also carry out the following duties specific to this project:

  • Work collaboratively and collegially with members of the research team on other research projects in the Equality Studies Centre from time to time as the need arises.
  • Make a theoretical and empirical contribution to the project by undertaking desk-based research and analysis of secondary sources, including the analysis of quantitative data on labour markets,  productive  and reproductive labour, life-work boundaries at the work place, caring and higher education.
  • Prepare draft research papers  on equality issues in relation to working, caring and learning arising from the desk-based research, and work on and review papers drafted  on the empirical studies as required  by the PI and in collaboration with other members of the research team.
  • Liaise with members of the Advisory Board and Funding body, assist in organising meetings, and work with those involved in the empirical studies
  • Contributing to the active programme of disseminating  the findings of the research at a number  of levels, including conferences, workshops, web-based media including project website,  and seminars  with the guidance and the support  of the Principal Investigator.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Conduct a specified programme of research and scholarship under the supervision and direction of your Principal Investigator
  • Engage in appropriate training and professional development opportunities as required  by your Principal Investigator, your School or Institute, or the University.
  • Engage in the dissemination of the results of the research in which you are engaged as directed by and with the support  of and under the supervision of your Principal Investigator.
  • Engage in the wider research and scholarly activities of your research group, School and Institute.
  • Mentor and assist, as appropriate and as directed,  the research graduate students in your School and Institute.
  • Carry out administrative work associated with your programme of research.

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria outline the qualifications, skills, knowledge and/or experience that the successful candidate would need to demonstrate for successful discharge of the responsibilities  of the post. Applications will be assessed on the basis of how well candidates satisfy these  criteria.


  • A PhD in a field of study directly related  to this post with a PhD dissertation on one or more of the topics related  to the research project such as theories of in/equality, care and justice, neoliberalism,  critical studies of labour markets and/or care work and/or higher education, precarious  working/learning, and the boundaries between so-called productive and reproductive labour
  • Ability to use qualitative research software, and an ability to analyse quantitative data and write up related  findings
  • Excellent writing and editing skills and a proven ability to write research papers in a cogentand insightful way, demonstrating strong theoretical and analytical skills, including an ability to integrate more abstract theoretical knowledge with findings from empirical research
  • A demonstrated commitment to research and publications dedicated to issues of in/equality and social justice and the use of research to inform social change
  • Excellent Interpersonal and Communication Capabilities (Oral, Written, Presentation) and a collegial attitude towards undertaking research and working on a research team
  • An understanding of the operational requirements for a successful research project
  • Evidence of research activity (publications, conference presentations, awards) and future scholarly output (working papers, research proposals,  and experience of writing a funding application).
  • Excellent Communication Skills (Oral, Written , Presentation etc)
  • Excellent Organisational and Administrative skills including a proven ability to work to deadlines

The PD1 position is intended for early stage researchers, either just after completion  of a PhD or for someone entering  a new area for the first time. If you have already completed your PD1 stage in UCD or will soon complete a PD1, or you are an external applicant whose total Postdoctoral experience, inclusive of the duration  of the advertised post, would exceed 4 years, you should not apply and should refer to PD2 posts instead.


  • Experience of research and evidence of publications in equality-related issues in relation to care, labour markets and education
  • Research background on inequalities in Irish society
  • Experience in setting own research agenda

For informal inquiries please write to the Principal Investigator of the project Professor Kathleen Lynch,  

N.B. Closing date: 19th January 2015 5 pm GMT – Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time of 5 pm GMT on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system. 


2 years Post-doc: Equality of opportunity in practice: studies in working, learning, and caring

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