Project code


Subject group

Economics and Finance

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School Economics and Finance Subject Group within the Faculty of Business and Law and will be supervised by Dr Ali Onder, Professor Shabbar Jaffry and Dr Elena Lisauskaite.

The work on this project will:

  • analyse the role of gender distribution and skilled immigration on UK-based innovation activities 
  • analyse the elasticity of supply of highly skilled STEM researchers across genders with respect to immigration rules and derive policy implication as to what this implies for gender distribution in high skill sectors;
  • document the marginal productivity of male and female inventors or researchers in highly innovative sectors and establish causal links between institutional setup or policy regulations and inventors’ productivity.

We are looking for strong candidates to work on our enthusiastic PhD project where we aim to discover causal interactions between high skilled migration, labour markets, innovation and gender by focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related activities in the UK. This PhD project is part of a larger research agenda that offers potential collaboration opportunities with a larger team in addition to the advisory team.

STEM jobs are vital to sustain and enhance innovative capacity and competitiveness. Although women constitute roughly half of the overall labour force in the UK, they hold about 20% of academic positions in STEM related fields in higher education institutions (HEI) in the UK. In addition, the share of women decreases significantly when moving from lower to higher academic ranks. The situation in research-intensive STEM activities outside the HEI is not any different. This environment creates a severe gender gap in innovation. The main focus of this project is to analyse how the gender gap in STEM jobs affects the productivity and efficiency in the UK focusing on the innovation accruing from STEM.

According to Higher Education Statistic Agency (HESA) data, STEM faculty positions display a larger gender gap than life sciences, social sciences, or humanities. Moreover, data reveal a larger share of non-UK citizens among female faculty members in STEM fields compared to other fields, meaning that high skilled labour immigration is playing a crucial role for women in STEM in the UK. 

The main part of this project requires a thorough empirical investigation which will be based on large scale micro-level publication, patent and career data of UK-based STEM researchers.

Using the above mentioned data sources within the context of plausible natural experiments (for instance, Brexit to isolate migration effects and Covid-19 to isolate collaboration effects), this project aims to answer: What is the role of gender distribution and skilled immigration on UK-based innovation activities? How much do female researchers contribute to STEM research in the UK? Are there systemic differences between male and female researchers in the production of STEM research? If so, what is the origin of these differences? By doing so, we aim to provide policy recommendation to promote productivity and gender equality in STEM sector. Furthermore, we aim to provide a useful policy design for HEIs’ human resource management and research establishments that are engaged in STEM to fight against gender imbalance and enhance research output.    

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Economics or Econometrics or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

You are expected to analyse micro datasets using panel data methods. Experience in working with large datasets, proficiency in panel data analysis, and familiarity with STATA or R will be a great asset in your application.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Ali Onder  ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Economics PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code:  AE&F4881023