How to break through the glass ceiling?

I need your real-life solutions for a real-life problem. I’m looking for something more challenging at work, and a role that aligns with my learning and teaching experience. You can see the kinds of things I get up to from this blog. Briefly:

  • The only person in the UK to be both a “National Teaching Fellow” and hold an Association of Learning Technology “Technologist of the Year” award
  • My background and experience includes academia and industry, and I hold excellent people and project management skills. (Industry included a secondment in consumer understanding)
  • Track-record of innovative education research and gaining large-scale funding
  • 13 research outputs since January 2014 including national and international impact
  • 10 years experience as an open educator

    Glass and Windows

    Alan Levine Flickr “Glass and Windows” CC BY 2.0. (


I have been selected for interview in 3 out of my last 5 applications, and one last week was quite an ambitious step up. OK, that one was bit of a cheeky stretch, but I think for the most part I don’t get considered or get any further because I haven’t done the job, not because I can’t do the job. Without the experience I’m just a bit of a risk.

So how do you break through the glass ceiling? In industry, the use of secondments, role sharing, maternity cover were all established means of providing new avenues for people to explore. Not just that, senior management actively encouraged it. If you put someone from a different department into a role they would bring fresh and innovative approaches to solving problems. We don’t seem to have these options open to us so much in education. (Oh and before you ask, I have explored avenues in my present institution).

WHAT am I prepared to do?

I am prepared to go down to a 4-day week and work unpaid to gain the relevant strategic experience.

WHAT would I consider?

Anything at a strategic level working with senior executive teams. I could lead institutional change and or explore new strategic approaches in learning and teaching, technology or open education. Anything relating to student experience and TEF would be relevant. Supporting fellowship applications for sure, although on reflecting upon my circumstances over the last few years, I’m less convinced of the relevance of them for individuals.

WHAT would I not consider?

Research projects – I probably don’t need to develop or enhance my research skills at this stage and do tend to keep myself busy enough! However, a project could involve an element of market research or desk-top research.

HOW can I make this happen?

That is where I need you. I need your ideas of projects or opportunities in YOUR institutions or businesses. Please respond in the comments box with your ideas.

2 thoughts on “How to break through the glass ceiling?

  1. 1. Don’t go part time: negotiate with your employer for mini secondments.
    2. Get a good mentor: I am happy to make some suggestions if you contact me direct
    3. Get relevant training: the best I got was a 3 day course on how to read a university balance sheet
    4. Read around the topic: you might like me to send you a pre publication copy of the chapter Shan Wareing and I wrote for David Baume and celia Popovic’s new book for seda in which we cover this topic in part
    5. Keep trying and develop a thick skin: I had many many rejections in my career

    Hope this is helpful

    • You are wonderful Sally and great suggestions. I think I’m pretty thick skinned – have no problem there but the issue is a real. I would like a mentor please – suggestions would be most welcome. I’ve enquired about internal opportunities but the glass ceiling is there also. Yes training – great ideas.

      Thank you 🙂

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