Sue Ledwith

Emeritus Scholar in International Labour and Trade Union Studies at Ruskin College, Oxford and PhD Researcher.

During her time at Ruskin Sue re-developed the MA Women’s Studies and introduced a new MA International Labour and Trade Union Studies for trade unionists from both home and away. She took the latter into the Global Labour University, where Ruskin is now an associate, and in 2009 became academic coordinator of the GLU Gender and Trade Union Research Group.

In the 1990s Sue, along with Fiona Colgan of London Metropolitan University carried out a four-year study of women and gender in the trade unions UNISON and the GPMU (Graphical Paper and Media Union), funded by the ESRC. More recently Sue ran a similar research project with unions in Brazil and South Africa, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Having taught, researched and published work in this field for over 30 years, Sue is now studying for a PhD by publication at Oxford Brookes. Sue’s doctorate, Challenging gender hegemony in labour movements, uses as a springboard the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci’s conceptualisation of hegemony and revolution and associated concepts of common sense, good sense, intellectuals, pedagogy, activism, and praxis in developing an analysis of counter-hegemonic theory and practice to challenge and change masculine hegemony in labour movements – and more widely applicable to political movements and organisations.

This will draw on her published work, both as part of research partnerships and teams and as a single researcher. It will utilise models and ideas, both Sue’s own and those of other thinkers such as Joan Acker, Harriet Bradley, Robert Connell, Nancy Fraser, Michel Foucault, Paulo Freire, Stuart Hall and Sylvia Walby. Her supervisory team are Professor Phil James (now at Middlesex University) and Professor Simonetta Manfredi of the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice at Oxford Brookes.

Selected publications


Gendering and diversifying trade union leadership. Ledwith, S. and Lise Lotte Hansen [eds]. Routledge.


‘How progressive can trade unions be really be without gender equality? The case of Brazil’. in: Sustainable growth, development and labour: progressive responses at local, national and global level.  José Dari Krein, Eugenia Troncoso Leone and Pedro Evangelista Duarte. (Editors).GLU/ILO


‘Outside, inside: gender work in industrial relations’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: an international journal. Vol 31:4


‘Gender politics in trade unions. The representation of
women between exclusion and inclusion’. For special issue of
Transfer on Trade Union Cultures.  Volume 18(2). 1 May


Britwum, A. Douglas, K., Ledwith, S. ‘Gender, Power
and the Woman Question in Trade Unions’, in Williams, M. and Mosoetsa, S. (eds) Labour in the 21st Century: Challenges and Responses for Workers from the global South. ILO/GLU.


Encounters between gender and labour politics; towards an inclusive trade union democracy. in Equality Theory and Research, ed M. Ozbilgin. Edward Elgar.


‘Vive la difference? women and trade unions in Britain’. Revue du Centre de Recherches en Civilisation Britannique


Joint editor of special issue Industrial Relations Journal on gender and industrial relations, and Ledwith, S. (2006) ‘Feminist praxis in a trade union gender project’ Industrial Relations Journal. July


Colgan, F. and Ledwith, S. [eds] ‘Gender, Diversity and Trade Unions:  international perspectives’.  Routledge


Ledwith,S., and Seymour, D. ‘Home and away: preparing students for multicultural management’. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. Vol12:8. December.


Ledwith, S.  and Manfredi, S., Balancing Gender in Higher Education:  a study of the experience of senior women in a ‘new’ UK university’ The European Journal of Women’s Studies.  Vol. 7, 7-33


Ledwith, S., and Colgan, F. (eds) Women in Organisations:  Challenging gender politics.  Macmillan





photo of Kate Clayton Hathway