Stacking practice bombs

The largest multidisciplinary research network of its kind in the UK is investigating why gender equality is still a pressing social issue in the 21st century.

Society today is witnessing an ongoing paradigm shift in gender relations

Jackie Scott

The Gender Equality Network (GeNet) links academics from eight UK institutions who are conducting empirical research on gender equality. Funded since 2004 with £3 million from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Network is coordinated by Professor Jackie Scott, from Cambridge’s Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences.

"Society today is witnessing an ongoing paradigm shift in gender relations," said Professor Scott. "We have gone beyond the male breadwinner/ female homemaker post-war family. Dramatic changes have taken place in the workforce and enormous progress has been made in policy, but a gap remains in women’s attainment in the world of paid work, and this relates to the unequal division of unpaid work in the home."

Nine projects funded through the Network ask questions such as why has the gender wage gap proved so difficult to overcome? Do women who play an equal role in the workforce do so at the expense of family life? How have career paths for men and women changed across the generations? What are young people’s aspirations for gender equality? How do families trade off conflicts between time and money? What steps have corporations taken to support equity goals?

In Cambridge, Professor Simon Deakin, Programme Director in the Centre for Business Research at Judge Business School, is addressing gender inequality through progressive human resource management in the workplace. And Professor Scott is examining shifts in public opinion about women’s work–family balance.

"I’m a tremendous fan of Network grants," said Professor Scott. "From the very start, all members bought into the goal of talking to each other, informing each other’s work and contributing to joint outputs. The Network has given us the critical mass and diverse expertise needed to create a really strong factual understanding of gender equalities, what choices we make as adults, and how we might shape our children’s lives at the start of the 21st century."

For more information, please contact Professor Jackie Scott (;

Economic and Social Research Council

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) supports research from across the social sciences, from sociology to anthropology, through to statistics, methods and computing.

The ESRC’s aim is to equip the UK with the knowledge and evidence needed to prosper in a demanding and unpredictable world: whether it’s tackling economic and social problems, making the most of business opportunities, improving the impact of education strategies, or understanding global uncertainties.

A third of the ESRC budget (£56 million in 2007/2008) is allocated to postgraduate studentships, to strengthen future research by training the next generation of social scientists, and nearly two-thirds (£105 million in 2007/2008) is allocated to research.

The Gender Equality Network (GeNet) is highlighted here. Other examples of some of the larger ESRC-funded projects in Cambridge include:

  • The Electricity Policy Research Group (EPRG).
  • A three-year, £1.1 million project is exploring the potential of emerging semantic web technologies to support teaching and learning. Jointly funded by the ESRC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the Technology Enhanced Learning Programme, the ‘Ensemble’ project is led by Dr Patrick Carmichael in the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET).
  • Issues of international collaboration, knowledge transfer and capacity building in biomedical science and bioethics are being addressed by a three-year study in the Department of Social Anthropology led by Professor Marilyn Strathern and Dr Monica Konrad. The ESRC has contributed £1.2 million to support the study.
  • The Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study, led by Professor Per-Olof Wikström in the Institute of Criminology, has been awarded £2.6 million over five years to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of young people’s involvement in crime.
  • A £2.5 million, five-year grant ‘Conflict in Cities’ led by Dr Wendy Pullan in the Department of Architecture is investigating how cities that have been torn apart by ethnic unrest or war may regenerate.
  • The Centre for Public Health Research Excellence in Diet and Physical Activity at the Institute of Public Health is providing the evidence base for improving diet and physical activity across the population. Funding was provided under the umbrella of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), a partnership of funders administered by the ESRC, which together have invested £20 million over five years to establish five Centres of Excellence in the UK.
  • The UK Innovation Research Centre (UK IRC) is a recently announced collaborative venture between the Centre for Business Research at Judge Business School and Imperial College Business School to research into how innovation can make businesses more competitive. The Centre is part of a wider initiative that will receive £5 million over the next five years from its partner funders, which includes the ESRC.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page.