Dr Cheryl Hurst

Dr Cheryl Hurst


The central themes of my research are gender and inequality in organisations, diversity and inclusion, leadership, organisational change, and power and resistance. I connect these themes with macro developments on systemic inequality, gendered institutions, and institutionalisation.

My PhD (received Feb 2020) is titled "Interpreting gender equality initiatives: a discourse analytic study in higher education institutions." The thesis highlights key themes and paradoxical approaches to achieving gender equality in institutions, specifically in how leaders interpret and understand elements relating to meritocracy and women's underrepresentation. I theoretically connect reasons for women's underrepresentation with gender equality initiatives, contributing a new perspective to better understand why recent efforts to achieve gender equality have translated into 'fixing women.'

My experience expands beyond my PhD to include research assistant roles undertaken during my doctorate. For many of these roles, I was recruited to apply my expertise in qualitative research methods. I am currently part of a research group that is focused on re-conceptualising inclusion in organisation studies.

I regularly attend international and national conferences, presenting various stages of my research. I also have experience with teaching in Gender and Equality at Work, Diversity Management, and Organizational Psychology.

I received my MSc at the University of Leeds Business School in Organisational Psychology in 2016. My dissertation examined approaches to enhancing the participation of women and girls in sports and exercise, applying a goal-hierarchy model to understand their experiences with various marketing techniques. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Guelph, Ontario, where my honours thesis project was in Industrial Organisational Psychology

Research interests

I am interested in the relationship between discourse and power dynamics, paying attention to the meaning of ‘diversity management’ and ‘gender inequality’ that is produced by people whose discursive practices are likely to be those that are dominant within their organizational setting. I am also interested in organizational behaviour and change in relation to diversity management and equality related goals.

I am also interested in qualitative methods and methodologies. My thesis involved the use of critical discourse analysis to identify dominant discourses within institutions. My study theorizes the relationship between discourses of the elite and more broad diversity related practices. By examining the discursive and the extra-discursive, my work critically investigates how the discourses of the institutional elite inform organizational processes.


  • PhD Work and Employment, University of Leeds (2020)
  • MSc Organisational Psychology, University of Leeds (2015)
  • BASc Psychology, University of Guelph (2014)

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change