Postgraduate Researcher

Postgraduate Researchers, Work and Employment Relations, Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC)


University of Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship


MA Human Resource Management - University of Leeds

BA (Hons) Business - Leeds Metropolitan University

Professional Memberships



With over 20 years' Civil Service experience Susan was employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) where she worked in the private offices of both the Secretary of State for Defence (the senior politician and Cabinet Minister responsible for the MoD) and the Permanent under Secretary of State (PUS) (the senior MoD Civil Servant) as Personal Assistant (PA). She also had a three-year posting to the British Embassy Paris where she was appointed PA to the Naval Attaché.

Prior to her overseas tour, Susan was Personal Assistant to senior Army two-star officers (Major-General) including PA to The Director General Army Training. As part of the 1993/4 Defence Costs Studies into the restructuring of the British Armed Forces, she was appointed first as PA to the Major General in charge of the Army Command Structure Review team and on culmination of this report was then appointed as PA to Director General in charge of the Defence Costs Studies team. Her final role before leaving the Civil Service was in the Private Office of the Permanent under Secretary of State for Defence.

After leaving the Civil Service Susan took up employment in the Public Sector as Executive Assistant to the Director General of the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Clerk to the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (now the West Yorkshire Combined Authority).

Susan also served in the former Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) where she was attached to the Royal Signals and qualified as a Data Telegraphist. Later, she transferred to the Adjutant General (AG) Corps (Pay and Personnel) qualifying as a Class 1 military accountant and reached the rank of Sergeant.


Thesis title

Gender and leadership in the British armed forces 


Prof Jennifer Tomlinson

Prof Mark Stuart

Dr Sundeep Aulakh


Leadership, gender, armed forces, army, navy, RAF, Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Thesis Synopsis

The research is to consider Gender and Leadership in the British Armed Forces. As a precursor to this, a UK Government report in October 2014 showed that women's representation on FTSE 100 boards had increased to 22.8% from a low start of 12.5% in 2011. Previous reports into women on mainstream boards suggests that many more women than men said they had to deal with gender based barriers by leaving or changing careers.

Research would look to see if this is true of the military and would seek to identify if there is a gender bias in terms of career progression and leadership for women officers employed in the British Forces.

The thesis would explore how the military are trained for leadership and how is this defined. Has the 'gender management aspect' (Dunn 2007) to women's army leadership changed, if so, how has it evolved?

At the time of writing (March 2016) women in the British Forces are not allowed to serve on the front line in ground close combat. The research would consider if this is detriment to women not reaching the highest echelons of command (3 to 4-star level) in the British Armed Forces. Research would consider if women officers reach a glass ceiling in terms of career progression in the British Armed Forces.

The outcome of a current study, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Defence, into women being employed on the front line taking part in ground close combat, is expected in 2016.

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