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FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes

Returning to work after a career break: The case of first time mothers (SF19/LHRM/BADER)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Due to demographic changes and resulting labour shortages in many industrialised countries, organisations have started hiring a more diverse pool of employees. Diversity is important for organisations, because if managed poorly, it can lead to conflicts and performance loss. However, if managed properly, it bears the potential of increased innovation and performance (Bader, Kemper, & Froese, in press).

Gender has been shown to be among the most pressing issues in diversity management (e.g. Kemper, Bader, & Froese, 2016; Bader & Froese, 2016). While research has focused on how to attract and retain women and how to reduce barriers for female leaders, one important aspect has rarely received attention: women’s return to work after having had their first child. Statistics show that many women fully or partially drop out of their career in their younger years in which they typically start a family. For organisations, this is unfortunate, because it is a great loss of qualified human capital. Therefore, the question arises how organisations can foster and support mothers’ return to work.

The proposed research will examine the challenges women face when they become a first-time working mother. It includes a longitudinal design following mothers’ decision-making from pregnancy to job re-entry. This allows an in-depth understanding of their situation and identifying strategies how organisations can support them. The primary methods are qualitative, but, depending on the applicants’ interest and skills, could be supplemented with quantitative research.

If the applicant is interested in comparative research, they could also be involved in an international research project and collaborate with researchers from abroad. As countries differ regarding their legislation and support of families and cultural norms regarding gender (Kemper, Bader, & Froese, in press; Bader, Stoermer, Bader, & Schuster, 2018), this international project will reveal further intriguing insights.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

• Bader, A. K., Kemper, L. E. & Froese, F. J. (in press): Who promotes a value-in-diversity perspective? A fuzzy set analysis of executives’ individual and organizational characteristics. Human Resource Management.

• Kemper, L. E., Bader, A. K. & Froese, F. J. (in press): When attitudes toward women collide: the case of Scandinavian MNEs in Japan. Personnel Review.

• Bader, B., Stoermer, S., Bader, A. K., & Schuster, T. (2018). Institutional discrimination of women and workplace harassment of female expatriates: Evidence from 25 host countries. Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Research, 6(1), 40-58.

• Stoermer, S., Bader, A. K., & Froese, F. J. (2016). Culture matters: The influence of national culture on inclusion climate. Cross-Cultural Management: An International Journal, 23(2): 287-305.

• Bader, A. K. & Froese, F. J. (2016). Gender diversity management in foreign subsidiaries. A comparative study of Germany and Japan. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of International Business.

• Kemper, L.E., Bader, A. K., & Froese, F. J. (2016). Diversity management in aging societies. A comparative Study of Germany and Japan. Management Revue, 27(1-2): 29-49.

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