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Student Vacation Research Assistant: Examining the experiences of openly gay and lesbian teachers in a period of declining homohysteria - Open to current University of Worcester students only*

Research Assistantships provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV.


Current research:
Recent studies have been carried out on openly gay and lesbian in various countries; Australia (Ferfolja & Hopkins, 2013), England (Gray, 2013), Ireland (Neary, 2012; Fahie, 2016) and America (Connell, 2015). Although Gray (2013) has only relatively recently published the data was collected in 2008. Additionally, studies have been carried out that focus specifically on physical education teachers (Sykes, 2009; Edwards et al., 2014) and music teachers (Palkki, 2015). As Edwards et al., (2014) state, ‘One such knowledge gap is in understanding the lived experiences of lesbian and gay teachers working in schools following the abolition of Section 28 ’ (p. 3). This project aims to help fill the gap in literature within this area.

How the project fits with current research:
In schools, the introduction of Section 28 in 1988 could be making the school environment hostile. However Section 28 was an act that was rushed through in 1988 during a period of high homohysteria (Anderson, 2011; Moran, 2001). This Act has since been repealed and there has been a cultural shift with homophobia steadily in decline according to GSS data (Anderson, 2011). This study will seek to examine if a decline in cultural homophobia has impacted on teachers lived experiences within schools.

The concept of homohysteria was developed by Anderson (2009) as part of his theory: Inclusive Masculinity Theory (IMT). Only recently has this theory been applied to women (Anderson & Bullingham, 2016; Worthen, 2015; Anderson, Mcgrath and Bullingham, 2016) and has mainly been applied within a sporting setting. This research will provide an opportunity to test this concept within a different cultural institution. The student will be involved in a project that this helping to develop a theoretical concept that has rarely been applied within this context. This project is a part of ongoing development of homohysteria as a concept and links with teaching in both the institute of sport and exercise science and education on modules surrounding inclusion. Additionally, the university is committed to inclusive education and sexual orientation is a protected characteristic within the Equality Act 2010.

Aims and objectives of the project:
The wider project has a number of aims, but the focus for the VRA will be surrounding the second aim of the study. Particularly coding in relation to the homophobia and heteronormativity that gay and lesbian teachers face in an educational setting. This can then link directly to the concept of homohysteria for the written report and the conference presentation.
• Examine how teachers navigate homophobia and heteronormativity in educational environments.
o Identify coping strategies.
o Identify any cohort differences.
o Identify any behavioural and/or teaching differences since coming out.

*Please note that this post is open only to students completing the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) at the University of Worcester or partner institutions;
Students completing, or who have completed, an undergraduate degree at another university (with 1st or 2:1 predicted/achieved) who are about to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester.

Closing date: Monday 29 May 2017

Reference number: STUVRA1704 - 2003

Job details

Job details

£8.44 per hour, plus £1.18 per hour holiday pay
Up to 37 hours per week
4 weeks full time (1.0 FTE) but some flexibility to work on a part-time basis subject to discussion
Responsible to
Rachel Bullingham
Responsible for
Interview date

Institute of Sport and Exercise Science

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"Our aim is to attract ambitious students who will be challenged as sports academics and practitioners to be the best that they can be."
Mick Donovan, Head of Institute



The University of Worcester is funding 20 Vacation Research Assistantships for the summer of 2017. These Research Assistantships will provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV. These are prestigious awards, marking out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. In addition, this scheme provides UW staff leading on a research project with invaluable support in taking the project forward and experience of supporting and developing a young researcher.

On completion of the project, the supervisor and student must complete a report providing the following information:
• Objectives set
• Objectives met
• Methods employed
• Results
• Conclusions
• Outputs
• Benefits to the student including training undertaken, skills developed, etc.

Main duties

Main duties

The VRA will play a key role in the development of the project. This project uses semi-structured interviews to examine the climate that teachers are facing within schools. The VRA will transcribe up to 15 interviews and help with the thematic coding of the results. The initial findings of the results will be written into a report which will highlight initial findings. The initial findings will (subject to acceptance) be presented at a conference in September.  Thus the main duties are:

• Organise interview data
• Transcribe interview data
• Initial coding of interview data using thematic coding.
• Provide summary of initial themes within the data.
• Prepare initial findings for conference proceedings.

*Maintain personal and professional development to meet the changing demands of the job; participate in appropriate training activities and encourage and support staff in their development and training.

*Take steps to ensure and enhance personal health, safety and well being and that of other staff and students.

*Carry out these duties in a manner that promotes equality of opportunity and supports diversity and inclusion, and takes into account the University's commitment to environmentally sustainable ways of working.
Person specification

Person specification

1. Experience of high quality degree level work in sports studies or education (achieving 2.1).
2. Ability to transcribe interview data.
3. Good organisational skills.
4. Ability to work independently.
5. Experience of report writing skills.
6. Experience of delivering presentations.
7. Understanding of key ethical considerations.
8. Experience of working with qualitative data.


1. Any knowledge of homophobia research.
2. Good communication skills.

Applications from Non EEA Workers:

Prospective applicants are advised to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK without restriction.

Prospective applicants in points-based system immigration routes should assess their circumstances against the published criteria, which are set out on the GOV.UK website at

Visit for more information on how you can use a qualification from outside the UK to meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs

The University is strongly committed to the fair treatment of its staff and potential staff, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibility for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

In line with the University's policy on the Recruitment of People with a Criminal Record, shortlisted candidates are required to provide information of any unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs. Applicants are advised to seek independent advice if there is any doubt about the status of a previous conviction, caution or bind-over. Disclosures will only be considered at the point when an offer of employment is made. The existence of a criminal record will not in itself prevent you from gaining employment.

This is a description of the job as it is presently constituted. This job description is intended to enable a flexible approach to be offered working across the University as required. It is subject to review and amendment in the light of changing needs of the University and to provide appropriate development opportunities. Members of staff are expected to participate fully in discussions about changing requirements and it is the University's aim to reach agreement to reasonable change. If agreement is not possible, it reserves the right to require changes to the job description after consultation with the individual concerned.

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