Abigal Muchecheti

  • Abigal Muchecheti is originally from Zimbabwe. She joined Oxford Brookes in January 2018 and her thesis title is ‘How do experiences and perceptions of women who identify as Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) hinder or enable their progression and attainment of leadership positions in Higher Education Institutions’

    How did you hear about Oxford Brookes University?

    I first joined Oxford Brookes as an MSc student. 

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    I did my Masters at Oxford Brookes, so it seemed reasonable to do my PhD here.   

    What were you doing before?

    Before starting my PhD, I was working for the University of Oxford as a Senior HR Officer.   

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    My supervisors, the disability team and my fellow students were all so supportive when I was not feeling well.

    Tell us about your research.

    Gender has always been used as a common denominator in which women can find some common ground in order to counter their inequalities in leadership. This research, however, aims to explore and highlight the challenges that women who identify as BME face in their quest to progress and attain leadership roles in higher education institutions (HEIs). I will discuss the encounters (for example, stereotyping and prejudice) that these women face and specifically address the dimensions of gender, race, class and their impact on leadership. Crenshaw’s (1989) concept of intersectionality will be used to understand the way in which gender, race and class mediate and shape the experiences of these women in the workplace. The road to leadership demands an understanding of how multiple identities position women differently in HEIs. The research seeks to redress the reliance on one identity and argue that women have multiple identities and will be affected differently by these multiple identities.

    In 1989, Crenshaw introduced the term to avoid the pitfalls inherent to identity politics. She argues, intersectionality ‘denote[s] the various way[s] in which race and gender interact to shape the multiple dimensions of black women’s employment experiences’ (Crenshaw 1989, 139). Thus, Crenshaw challenges individuals and institutions who essentialise identities. It is clear that intersectionality has given us something to think about despite the various debates and critiques that surround the framework

    This research will be carried out in Higher Education Institutions and qualitative research methods will be used to explore the phenomenon under study by interviewing women who identify as black and ethnic minorities. I intend to explore the perceptions and the views of these women when it comes to their leadership opportunities in these institutions. Having worked in one myself, I would have to reflect and note down any biases I might have, but the semi-structured interviews with participants are meant to explore deeply on this topic. I will conclude by highlighting the findings and limitations, and what can be done to bring about social justice in underrepresented groups.

    What are your future plans?

    I hope to pursue a career in academia.