School of Business and Economics


Srivanitha (Vani) Naik MA Applied Linguistics (Distinction) (University of Auckland), BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology (Cardiff University)

Photo of  Srivanitha (Vani) Naik

Following a move back from New Zealand, Vani started her PhD in July 2017 at Loughborough University in the School of Business and Economics. She is a Critical Management Studies scholar, with methodological interests in critical discourse analysis. Her PhD thesis focuses on the lack of women professors in engineering, and takes a feminist perspective by prioritising the voices of women academics in her research.

Vani has previous research experience, working for both Unilever R&D and the research arm of the UK Ministry of Defence (formerly DERA, now Qinetiq). She also has significant university teaching experience, having worked at Durham University, the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds. Most recently, she was a lecturer at Massey University, New Zealand where she was nominated for Lecturer of the Year in her first lectureship position. At Loughborough University, her diverse teaching skillset has been utilised in SBE, Social Sciences and SSEHS.

Vani is actively involved in fostering a sense of community and research culture amongst PGRs. She co-founded the award-winning Writing Gym, a weekly social writing club and also co-ordinates LiQUid Lab, the university’s peer-to-peer network for qualitative postgraduate researchers. Her Twitter handle is @vaninaik7 where she tweets about her research.

Research Interests:

  • (Critical) discourse analysis
  • Narrative and identity
  • Social inequalities


Dr Dan Sage and Professor Catherine Casey

Thesis Title

Understanding gender in engineering academia: Developing a nuanced perspective of gender inequalities across engineering disciplines

Thesis project details:

It has been widely recognised that there is stark gender inequality in engineering in the UK. In the higher education (HE) context the Athena SWAN charter was developed to tackle gender inequalities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, which has achieved some successes. The focus on the ‘pipeline’ of women has resulted in a focus on particular areas, for example on Early Career Researchers. There is however, a persistent gender gap at Professorial level despite many years of initiatives, indicating a need for better understanding of the mechanism of inequalities that appear to be compounded at mid-career level and onwards.

This study will take the national picture in engineering HE and systematically profile women academics across the various engineering disciplines as a starting point. This exercise will highlight areas where problems exist and clearly delineate differences across different engineering fields, with the view to exploring this in more depth with qualitative methods. The main aim of the study is to develop a more nuanced perspective on gender inequalities across the engineering disciplines and clearly define the structural issues in higher education that contribute to the up to now glacial speed of change.