06 November 2009

Seeking Female Research Participants in Hierarchical Organizations

No, not for me - one PhD research project is quite enough, thank you. This posting is for a colleague where I was a few years ago. But if you are a woman in a large, hierarchical organization, please read on!

Despite their proportion of participation in the workplace, women particularly those from the ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately underrepresented in senior positions in hierarchical organizations. Most of these women are concentrated in low-paying and low-status occupations in these organizations regardless of their education and experience. Various structural and cultural constraints are ubiquitous in hierarchical organizations which limit their engagement and opportunities and compromise their career mobility. This study will investigate how learning in a self-directed and innovative way during the life course can be a constructive intervention for these women in overcoming obstacles arising directly or indirectly from the structure and culture of hierarchical organizations to their career. It further explores if learning through their experience at work will support these women in building new knowledge to improve their career opportunities and in becoming lifelong innovative learners. The study design includes discussions with women who are interested in this study and are able to share their experience relating to their experience in hierarchical organizations and their career development as well as their approach to learning.

If you are a member of the study population, i.e. women who have worked in an organization with over 50 employees for over five years and are interested in participating in this study, we would like to have an interview with you. Your participation in this study will enrich our understanding of the research questions with findings that may be instrumental in developing coping strategies to manage the careers of women and in promoting lifelong innovative learning as a constructive intervention.

The study is being conducted by Tammy Chan, a doctoral student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Professor Peter Sawchuk.

If you wish to participate in the study, you will be interviewed at a time and place convenient to you. The interview will be conducted in two phases by the doctoral student personally and will take approximately two hours and, if necessary, a follow up discussion on any outstanding issues after reflection either in person or over the phone. Dialogues during the interviews will be audio-taped to enhance interpretability relating to the structural and cultural constraints experienced by participants, their career development and approaches to lifelong learning. All the information relating to the research questions collected during the interview will be kept in strict confidence which will only be used for the preparation of the thesis. If you would like to continue your discussion about your experience after the interviews, we will be able to refer you to other professional workers in the related areas.

Your name and name of your organization or any other information that may disclose your identify will not be used in the study. To maintain confidentiality, a pseudonym will be used for the report of the findings from your participation. All information about the organization that is discussed at the interview will be kept in confidence. The audio tapes and all related written records from the interviews will only be kept until the completion and approval of the thesis.

Your participation is completely voluntary and you may withdraw from the study without further obligations at any time up until the write up of the final analysis begins. Although there will be no financial compensation in participating in this study, we would like to recognize your contribution with a small token of a book certificate. A copy of the final analyses can also be provided to you upon request when available. Please fill in your contact information below if you would like to have a copy.

If you have any questions about the study at any time, you may contact us at the numbers below. Thank you for considering your participation in this study. I would also appreciate if you would forward this letter to others who might be interested in this study. Thanks again.

So if you have a couple of hours to spare and would like to help out a PhD candidate with her research (I can tell you that all of my participants really enjoyed the process and each learned something new about themselves and their individual situations), please contact Tammy Chan directly. Many thanks - recruiting is often the hardest part of the research process!

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