The underrepresentation of women in the most senior ranks, and senior leadership positions in the academy, is a global phenomenon. How and why women academics experience the higher education profession differently to their male colleagues has been the subject of extensive research. This paper brings a new, original conceptual dimension to our understanding of this complex and enduring issue. Based on the rigorous analysis of 35 interviews with women academics from three world leading research-intensive universities, the paper introduces the concept of the silence, and silencing of, academic women. The theoretical frame of ‘micro-inequities’ – that is ‘small events’ which are hard to prove and covert – is used to analyse why academic women remain silent and how academic women are silenced.
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