Dr Anna Bull from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has been awarded an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) New Investigator Grant for her new study.

The project will examine institutional responses to staff sexual misconduct in Higher Education over a period of 24 months. The #MeToo movement became prominent in 2017 following exposure of allegations of sexual misconduct in the film industry. It has led to wider exposures of similar cases in other industries and provoked a media debate. Anna’s study will document and assess ongoing interventions into how to address power-based sexual misconduct by staff towards students in higher education (HE) in the UK, US and Australia in order to provide guidance on how to tackle this within and outside academia. The study will aim to answer the questions:

  • How can higher education institutions most effectively tackle the issue of power-based sexual misconduct carried out by staff towards students? 
  • How can the perspectives and experiences of groups of students in UK higher education, including female sexual violence survivors, enhance institutional responses to sexual misconduct? 
  • According to key stakeholders driving change within institutions in the UK, Australia, and the US, what barriers and opportunities currently exist in tackling staff sexual misconduct in HE? 
  • How can these changes draw on and contribute to ongoing work on prevention and responses to sexual misconduct and abuse within institutions and to understanding gendered power after #MeToo? 

I am enormously honoured to receive this prestigious funding from the ESRC. I am aware of the responsibility it puts on me to make a difference to the experiences of students and staff who have been subjected to sexual harassment and violence within higher education. I believe we can make our institutions better - and I will be spending the next two years finding out in more detail what this looks like in practice and bringing my learning back to the University of Portsmouth to make change at home as well as nationally and internationally

Dr Anna Bull, School of Education and Sociology

Dr Anna Bull is a co-founder of The 1752 Group, a research and lobby group that addresses the issue of staff sexual harassment in higher education. The ESRC grant is a fruit of several years of previous research, and was supported in the final stages of application by research and innovation funding from the Democratic Citizenship Theme. 

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