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Meet our HDR Candidates. Our Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students undertake their research under the supervision of our research staff and members, investigating issues of fairness, equality, sustainability and social justice in the world of work.

HDR Profiles

Karen Douglas

Karen Douglas joined the School of Management and the Centre for People Organisation and Work at RMIT University in 2015 as a PhD candidate under a research training program scholarship. Karen’s research examines how trade unions can organise workers in precarious employment with a focus on disability support workers. 

Karen’s research interests include: union organising, worker voice especially through trade unions, trade union renewal in Australia and internationally, gender pay equity and decent work.

Working across public and private sectors at local, regional and national level Karen has extensive experience negotiating through complex economic, social and political challenges. Karen has examined how different forms of structural power impacts the experiences of diverse workers and how people navigate disruption in their paid and non-paid working lives. Karen’s work includes understanding the ways in which people experience and respond to change in uncertain times.

Thesis: Addressing trade union barriers to organising devalued and labour-intensive workforces: a study of disability support workers in Victoria, Australia.

Supervisor(s): Prof. Peter Fairbrother, Dr Ruth Barton (UTas)

Lisa Heap

Lisa Heap is a labour lawyer who advises unions, business and government on strategies to achieve gender equality at work.  She formally held senior positions within the union movement.

Gender-based violence substantially impacts on the wellbeing of workers who experience it and those that observe it.  This study is a feminist socio-legal analysis examining new regulatory approaches that may promote the primary prevention of gender-based violence at work.

This research employs qualitative methods in a multi-level approach with empirical research drawing on policy and regulatory analysis, as well as the development of an in-depth case study focussed on recent developments in the state of Victoria, Australia.

Thesis: Understanding and overcoming the barriers to ending gendered violence at work: the role of regulation and workplace culture. 

Supervisor(s): Dr Annie Delaney, Dr Fiona Macdonald, Dist. Prof. Sara Charlesworth

Jenny Malone

Jenny Malone is a PhD candidate in the School of Management. Jenny’s research is focussed on the experiences of women in low-waged work and the institutional framework of minimum wages. 

Drawing on her current role as a researcher in the School of Management, Work of Social Care theme and previous employment at the Fair Work Commission, Jenny’s research interests focus on the intersection of employment regulation, gender, social policy and the work of care.

Jenny was a qualified social worker and has worked in various research roles in the not for profit, government and academic sectors for 15 years.

Thesis: The economic well-being of women in low paid, precarious work – the experiences of Australian care and support workers in home and community services.

Supervisor(s): Dr Fiona Macdonald, Dist. Prof. Sara Charlesworth

Laura McVey

Laura McVey is a PhD candidate in the School of Economics, Finance & Marketing at RMIT University. Her doctoral research is concerned with the ways in which markets and marketing are implicated in the production of violence against women and gender inequality.

Through qualitative research, Laura’s thesis with publications project is specifically looking to understand some of the newer practices of the (online) pornography market, including how these online business models operate, and the intersections this has with oppressive and violent forms of work for women.

Laura has an employment background in the not-for-profit sector, supporting women impacted by family violence and sexual assault, as well as working in government, academic and corporate research roles. She also has a Master of Marketing and a Master of Arts (Literature and Writing). 

Thesis: Dark Dynamics: exploring the production of harm in the online pornography market 

Monica O'Dwyer

Monica O’Dwyer is a PhD candidate in the School of Global Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Monica’s research explores the experiences of non-English-speaking background migrant workers in the aged care and childcare sectors in Australia.

Building on her previous work in the migration-settlement sector, Monica’s qualitative study focuses on skilled and partner migrants with professional occupational backgrounds who take up low paid frontline care work. She is interested in how gendered migration, settlement, and care regimes shape their career choices and experiences of work in Australia.

Monica has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Public Health and has worked in a range of research roles in government and academic settings and is a teaching associate and tutor at the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health at Monash University.

Thesis: Who cares? The occupational transitions of migrant women into childcare and aged-care work in Australia

Thanh-Hang Pham

Thanh-Hang Pham is a Ph.D. student in the School of Business and Management, RMIT Vietnam. Before starting the Ph.D. journey, Hang has been working as a lecturer, an entrepreneur, a marketing professional, and a freelancer, to name a few. Her career reflects a protean career orientation, in which an individual takes control of his or her career by exercising self-direction with a focus on intrinsic values. 

The genuine interest in career development and particularly protean career orientation is the inspiration for her Ph.D. research. In this study, she investigates how protean career orientation influences hospitality workers’ self-efficacy, job search activity, perceived employability, psychological well-being, and reemployment during and post-COVID 19. In the global context of unprecedented challenges for the industry due to the pandemic, the research is expected to have a contribution to the body of knowledge as well as providing important implications for individuals, managers, and policymakers.

Thesis: Protean career attitudes during recession: a longitudinal perspective from the hospitality industry

Shirley Tay

Shirley Tay is a PhD candidate with the School of Management at RMIT University. 

Her qualitative research revolves around the lived experiences of recent migrants in Australian workplaces and how their intersecting identities influence how they perceive workplace inclusion. She is passionate about making sure the voices of recent migrants are heard, so that a deeper understanding of their workplace experiences is achieved.

A migrant herself, Shirley has worked in the private and public sector in both Melbourne and Canberra. Before coming to Australia in 2009, she was employed with the Ministry of Education in Singapore. Apart from her PhD research, Shirley has been a tutor, marker and research assistant within RMIT University and is tutoring in Organisational Analysis and Contemporary Management: Issues and Challenges.

Thesis: Intersectionality and recent migrants’ experiences of inclusion in the Australian workplace.

Supervisor(s): Prof. Darryn Snell, Dr Shea Fan

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