A new study aiming to help employers better understand and support staff who experience miscarriage and stillbirth is looking for participants from UK higher education to share their stories.

Funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, the two-year project is led by Dr Ilaria Boncori, an expert in gender studies based in the University of Essex, and Dr Hamid Foroughi from the University of Portsmouth, an expert in social memory and inclusion.

"We know that miscarriage and stillbirth are common losses, experienced by one in three couples but very little research has examined its impacts on employees, their career choices, or how management and HR practices can support staff in these difficult times” explained Dr Hamid Foroughi, a senior lecturer in Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management at the Faculty of Business and Law.

Traditionally, research on fertility, birthing and parenthood has focused on women and their experiences. By interviewing both men and women, and by approaching the personal and professional experience of baby loss holistically, Dr Foroughi and Dr Boncori hope to provide vital insights into the professional, physical and emotional effects on individuals and their coping strategies.

"It is crucial for these experiences to be adequately managed in organisations, both in terms of employees’ wellbeing and performance. Unfortunately, the vast majority of organisations still lack appropriate and targeted policies, support mechanisms and training to address both individual and organisational needs relating to miscarriage and stillbirth" Dr Boncori said.

"This study will help organisations better support their members through these traumatic life events," she added.

Dr Boncori and Dr Foroughi are looking for participants who identify as men and women academics, from across the UK higher education sector, who have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth, to share their experiences. Although rooted in the field of organisational behaviour, and particularly in the higher education context, their findings will be relevant to numerous sectors.

"Higher education was selected to serve as a critical case," researchers explained, "as academics tend to start a family later in life, often after having achieved the security of a tenured position after many years of study, teaching and publishing. Since pregnancies which occur after the age of 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, the resulting emotional and physical challenges are likely to affect academics on both a personal and professional level."


If you're interested in this study and willing to help the research in this area, please email Dr Boncori at iboncori@essex.ac.uk to learn more about joining the study.