In April 2017, the British Association for American Studies (BAAS) conducted a wide-ranging survey of its membership. The purpose of the survey was to consult and obtain the views of BAAS members on a number of important issues facing the American Studies community and academia in the UK, more broadly. The survey was designed to investigate four specific issues: the demographic makeup of the American Studies community in the UK; gender inequality and sexual harassment; the health of the discipline; and what BAAS can do to support its members.
The survey was launched at the annual conference, which was held at Canterbury Christ Church University; members were able to complete the survey via Survey Monkey. It involved a mixture of quantitative and qualitative questions. In total, 111 members, ranging from postgraduate students to retired professors, completed the survey.
This report outlines some of the findings of the survey. It brings together the different questions into six broad themes:
- BAAS demographics (p. 2)
- Departments and institutions (p. 6)
- Discrimination and harassment (p. 9)
- State of the field (p. 11)
- Looking to the future (p. 14)
- Challenges, suggestions and the role of BAAS (p. 16)
- BAAS produces a wide range of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary scholarship
- There is general confidence in the health of American Studies in the UK in terms of its scholarship
- There are a number of concerns about how wider issues in UK Higher Education will impact American Studies, including issues of recruitment and retention of students
- Casualisation of teaching and limited job opportunities are creating additional pressures for postgraduate and early-career researchers
- More needs to be done to improve the diversity of the BAAS membership, which is overwhelmingly white
- Sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination are clearly major problems within UK Higher Education – 45% of women who completed the survey have experienced, witnessed, or been aware of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- In the interest of transparency a full list of members’ suggestions has been included at the end of the report. The Executive Committee will continue to consult with members; work continues on a number of initiatives in response to issues and suggestions raised in the survey.