Colette Fagan

Colette Fagan

Prof, Vice-President for Research, FAcSS

Personal profile


Colette is a Professor of Sociology (2005-) and the University’s Vice-President for Research (2017-). Previously she was Deputy Dean and Vice-Dean for Research (2010-17) of the Faculty of Humanities. Before that she held posts as the Research Director for the School of Social Sciences (2004–10) and Co-Director of the European Work and Employment Research Centre (2004–10). She was elected to Senate in 2008 and in 2009 joined the University’s Board of Governors as a senate-elected representative, with her term of office renewed twice by election (2009-18). Her other board experience includes primary school governing body chair and parent governor (2008-11).


Colette’s research focus is on employment, working conditions and job quality; with particular interests in gender relations and inequalities in the workplace and in family life, working-time and time-use, and international comparative analysis. Her research has been supported by major national and international funders, including the UK’s ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and the European Union’s research framework programes. Her record of knowledge exchange and impact formed one of the University’s REF2014 impact cases for sociology. She is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and has held visiting academic appointments at the Wissenshaftzentrum (WZB) Berlin; RMIT Australia; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Through her research she has been appointed to several high-level advisory bodies. She was a working group member and co-author of the British Academy’s 2016 report Crossing Paths: Interdisciplinary institutions, careers, education and applications. She is the UK national academic expert in the European Commission's Expert Network on Employment and Gender Equality (SAAGE) and one of the two academics appointed to Eurofound’s Advisory Board on Working Conditions and Sustainable Work (the European Commission’s tri-partite research and policy agency). Her previous advisory appointments to inform policy through research include the European Commission, the European Parliament, the United Nations’ International Labour Office and the OECD; plus reports for a range of government agencies, trade unions and employers’ associations in the EU, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Colette joined the University as a sociology lecturer in 1998. Previously she worked as a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, a researcher at UMIST and a research officer at the UK’s Equal Opportunities Commission (now the Equality and Human Rights Commission). Her connection with the University started in 1990 when she registered as a part-time PhD student.

As a member of the British Sociology Association her roles have included serving on the editorial board of the journals Sociology (1998-2000) and Work, Employment and Society (2000-2004) and on the conference organising committees for the 50th Annual British Sociological Association Conference (2001) and the 2004 Work, Employment and Society Conference.

Research interests

Key words: sociology of work and employment, working time, gender relations, comparative research.

Colettes research focus is on work and employment, with particular interests in gender relations and inequalities in the workplace and domestic life; in international comparisons of employment and living conditions in industrialised economies; and the topic of time. She is interested in theoretical and empirically-informed developments in these areas of study and in policy evaluation and impact assessment.

Much of her work is concerned with the comparative institutional or societal systems analysis of employment and welfare systems and how these institutional configurations shape and can transform the pattern of gender relations and inequalities found in different societies. Her research includes studies of Britain and other EU member states, and some comparisons with the USA and Australia. She has researched national differences and trends in gender segregation and pay gaps; working-time and other working conditions; social protection systems; family/community responsibilities for the care work of children and elders; equal opportunities policies and gender mainstreaming. Many of her projects are inter-disciplinary collaborations on international comparative projects.

Her current research has two foci:

  • Working-time, work-family policies and the re-shaping of gender and class relations: state and company-level policies and social partnership innovations; working-time practices (in organizations and households); individual working-time preferences.
  • Gender mainstreaming of the EU employment and social inclusion policy.

She is interested in developing or supervising research in the following directions:

  • Household patterns of time-use and family responsibilities (including gender inequalities and the conditions under which egalitarian parenting develop; older households).
  • The impact of the ageing population on social and economic life.

Research projects

Colette is currently undertaking or writing up the following research projects funded under open competition awards

  • ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (phase 3) award - 'Which fathers are involved in looking after their children? Identifying the conditions associated with paternal involvement' (2016-2017) Co-I with Dr Helen Norman (PI) and Professor Mark Elliot (Co-I) 
  • University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) (2013) - Women in Science: Characterising and Understanding the Gendered Nature of Scientific Leadership (PI with Professor Karen Hassell)
  • EC FP6 Network of Excellence 'RECWOWE - reconciling work and welfare in Europe (2006-11). Network coordinated by Professor Denis Bouget (Maison des Sciences de l'Homme - Nantes, France).
  • The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions ‘Working Conditions of women and men: towards higher gender equality? Analysis of the European Working Conditions Surveys’ (2007 with Brendan Burchell and Mark Smith)
  • The ‘European Establishment Survey on Working-Time’  (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2006-07 & design of second forthcoming survey, 2008-9
  • Coordinator of the European Commission’s 'Network of experts on gender equality in employment and social inclusion’ (2004-07, with Jill Rubery and Janneke Plantenga) and 2008- Senior Advisor to the Coordination and UK expert for the 'Network of experts on gender equality in employment' & Senior Advisor to the Coordination for the 'Network of experts on gender equality and social inclusion

Further information

Supervision areas:

I am particularly interested in supervising students who want to work on the following topics:

  • Employment trends, organizational restructuring and working conditions in the so-called ‘service’, ‘knowledge’ or ‘new economies’
  • The older workforce and ‘active ageing’
  • Working-time and the life course
  • The impact of employment trends on the organization of unpaid care work and voluntary work in the home and community; and patterns of time-use in households more broadly
  • Fatherhood
  • Gender mainstreaming of labour market and welfare state policies

My current and recent PhD students:

  • Susanna Whawell (2014-) Women who do not join Company Boards, Doctor of Business Administration candidate
  • Claire Shepherd (2010-14) Gender role attitudes in Europe and the individualisation thesis
  • Fatima Assuncao (2008-11) Gender and self-employment in Portugal, Portuguese government scholarship
  • Abril Saldana (2008-11) Domestic service in Mexico, Mexican government scholarship
  • Helen Norman (2006-10) Involved Fatherhood: an analysis of the conditions associated with pateranal involvement in childcare and housework, ESRC doctoral studentship
  • Pierre Walthery (2006-11), Women returners on the labour market: attitudes and constraints
  • Hayley Limmer (2006-10), Why do women from selected ethnic groups have different rates of self-employment? 
  • Stefano Ba (2003-08) 'Post-Fordist Families: Class and Gender in the Flexible Economy' ESRC doctoral studentship, PhD submitted 2007
  • Nina Robinson (2002-06) 'Fragmented Sisterhood? A critical investigation of social relationships between women managers/professionals within the Gendered Workplace' ESRC doctoral studentship, PhD submitted 2007
  • Darren Nixon (2000-04) ‘Economic Restructuring, Feminisation and Men’s Employment Opportunities’ ESRC doctoral studentship, PhD awarded 2005


Additional information:

She is available for media interview on her specialist topics (working-time, gender inequalities in Europe), and has been interviewed on these topics by journalists in Britain, France, the Netherlands and Australia.

Recently completed competitive awards (2001-)

2016-17 ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative 'What makes fathers involved? Identifying the conditions associated with paternal involvement in childcare' Co-I in project led by Dr Helen Norman (PI).

2013 University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) Women in Science: Characterising and Understanding the Gendered Nature of Scientific Leadership (PI with Professor Karen Hassell)

2013-18 ESRC Institutional Award of an Impact Acceleration Account to The University of Manchester, PI for project proposal and managing project pilot and subsequent full award

2012-15 ESRC Seminar Series ‘Work-Life Balance, the Recession and Beyond’ Co-I in project led by Professor Lewis, University of Middlesex 

2009-11 ESRC Seminar Series ‘Fairness at Work’ - PI with co-applicants at University of Manchester and Brighton 

2008-14 European Commission: UK National Expert and Coordinating team member for the Expert Network on Employment and Gender Equality (ENEGE), coordinated by theGiacomo Brodolini Foundation, Rome.

2009-10 Tesco Sustainable Consumption Institute (U of M): The time-use and consumption patterns of single person households. Dr Dale Southerton (PI) with co-applicants Fagan and Warde

2006-11 European Commission - Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) Network of Excellence RECWOWE – reconciling work and welfare in Europe’  PI for Manchester team in consortium of 29 institutions coordinated by Professor Bouget (Maison des Sciences de l’Homme – Nantes, France). 

2007 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions ‘Working Conditions of women and men: towards higher gender equality? Analysis of the European Working Conditions Surveys

2006 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions ‘Establishment Survey on Working Time – the reports on ‘Part-time work’ and on ‘Family leave’

2004-7 European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Directorate 'Network of Experts on Gender Equality in Employment and Social Exclusion'

2003-4 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 'A New Organistion of Time through Working Life' in a consortium coordinated by D.Anxo (Sweden) and J-Y Boulin (France)

2002-4 ESRC award 'Living and labouring in London and Manchester: Young adults' work-life choices' 

2001-4 Anglo German Foundation ‘Jobs for whom? Service sector employment restructuring in Germany and the UK’

2001-2 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions 'Gender and working conditions in Europe'

2000-1 European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions ‘Gender and employment preferences in Europe’

Recent research consultancies (2001-)

United Nations - International Labour Office (2002/3), UK Trades Union Congress (2004/5), United Nations – UNIFEM CEE (2006), OECD (2007)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Areas of expertise

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Gender
  • working conditions
  • work-family balance
  • inequality
  • fatherhood
  • job quality
  • intrernational comparisons

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures
  • Digital Futures
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute
  • Work and Equalities Institute


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