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Best Paper award for PhD student at EURAM 2013

30 July 2013

PhD student Shehla Arifeen has won a top European award for a paper which forms part of her doctoral work in the Department of Management Learning and Leadership.

Shehla was awarded the doctoral students’ ‘Best Paper’ award at the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Doctoral Colloquium. This two-day event, designed to help PhD students develop their research proposals, was held at the end of June immediately before the EURAM annual conference. Both events were hosted by Galatasaray University in Istanbul.

‌“This topic is a labour of love for me. The more I dig deeper, the more fascinated I am,” says Shehla. “But I never thought I was doing anything exceptional until I heard what the judging panel had to say. It made me happy to know that what I find fascinating will make a difference to the field in which I am attempting to contribute.”

In her winning paper, ‘Career voices of a socially marginalized group’, Shehla looks at the career progression experiences of highly educated second-generation British Pakistani women in the UK. Although the paper was developed specifically for the colloquium, it reflects the early findings of her doctoral research, part of which involves a series of case studies.

Research stimulus

Her PhD study came about as a direct consequence of a report she discovered on the website of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission a few years ago. “It stated that British Muslim women are a minority in the UK workforce, even though they may be highly educated. I found that odd. I had previously done some case writing on women in management in Pakistan and was under the impression that an obstacle to progression was the patriarchal values of the society in which they were living. The UK was not a patriarchal society. So my question was ‘then what’s the problem?’”

Intent on investigating further, she drew up a research proposal which she submitted to a number of UK universities:

“Lancaster University had the foresight to find this topic important enough to offer me a studentship. This made it possible for me to leave home at the age of 50, without adding any financial pressure to my family, as all of my children are in university.”

Shehla is now two years into her PhD, under the supervision of Dr Caroline Gatrell and Professor John Burgoyne, both of whom are delighted by her recent success. She pays tribute to Lancaster, and in particular to Caroline Gatrell, who deferred Shehla’s admission for a year in order to secure the funding for her.

Mentoring and idea-gathering

The Doctoral Colloquium was also an extremely valuable way of acquiring new perspectives, as in addition to sessions by a range of speakers, the students – drawn from across Europe – were given mentoring in small groups of four to five students.

“We were allocated a faculty member of a European university who was our mentor over the two days. The quality of mentoring was excellent as the mentor had done her homework, reading each paper in detail, and involved all the group members in looking at each of the papers critically, highlighting strengths and weaknesses. I have plenty of ideas to work on further. Other faculty who were part of the mentoring teams were also always ready to discuss one’s research.

“This was my first experience of representing LUMS outside the UK. It was a great learning experience for me, and provided a warm and supportive atmosphere for co-creation of knowledge. I would strongly recommend other students to take part in the EURAM Doctoral Colloquium.”