Top Ten: Barriers I Have Faced In Academia

Construction barricade

I have faced numerous barriers that prevented my academic progression in my formative years, and many will strike a chord will those reading this. Some of these barriers have resulted from my own life choices, others are a consequence of academic structures. It’s interesting to think back over my journey and reflect on the main barriers I have had to (and continue to) overcome:

  1. I publish more research reports and thought pieces than peer-reviewed journal articles. More people have read my research reports than my journal articles yet precedence is given to the latter.

  2. I find networking at conferences a daunting task having experienced rude and dismissive senior academics. The key to processing is networking but going at it alone can be detrimental to getting where you want to be.

  3. I lost out on a permanent academic post because my husband and I chose to start a family. Returning to academic was a long difficult process.

  4. My first ever journal article submission was torn to pieces by reviewers who claimed my who doctoral research was flawed. It took me another 18 months to gain the confidence to submit it elsewhere (where is was positively received) but it left me questioning my ability to produce more articles, meaning I fell behind in the race to publish.

  5. Being a young ambitious (female) academic is apparently a ‘threat’ to older male academics, who preferred to see me fail in order to make themselves look more successful. Oh how they underestimated my determination!

  6. My willingness to help others in the early years was detrimental to my own progression. I quickly realised that I had to be quite selfish in academia and say no to tasks and projects that did not benefit me directly.

  7. Being successful at the teaching and learning aspect of the job has resulted in me undertaking greater teaching responsibilities, limiting time for writing and research.

  8. Constant rejection (research grants, article submissions, collaboration, job roles) have been detrimental to my mental health and consequently my confidence to believe I can succeed in academia.

  9. Impossible work loads making me choose between work life and family life – of course I choose family life.

  10. A constant lack of positive academic role models who could inspire and mentor me as an early career researcher. I envy all of you who have had someone championing your corner and supporting your progression, embrace it.

Would love to hear from you if you’ve faced your own barriers, for me these show a combination of factors; age, gender, confidence and support. What is/was stopping you from from progressing?