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Alison Parken  OBE

Dr Alison Parken


Lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation

Cardiff Business School

+44 29208 75504
Aberconway Building, Colum Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EU


I undertake research which contributes towards building an evidence base to mainstream equality in policy-making and the workpplace. My research interests include:

  • Equal pay/ gender pay gaps
  • Low pay and pay progression
  • The gendering of labour markets and organisations
  • Mainstreaming equality within the workplace including knowledge economies and the transition to Net Zero
  • Intersectional equality mainstreaming (all dimensions of inequality) within policy making
  • Women in academia
  • Feminist theory and EDI theories

Evidence session and panel contributions

  • The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, National Assembly for Wales, Inquiry into poverty in Wales: Making the economy work for people on low incomes, Oral evidence session 19th July 2017
  • National Assembly for Wales, Economy, Infrastructure and Transport Committee: Alternative Perspectives on the economic strategy, February 2017
  • The Government Equalities Office, Academic Expert Group on Gender Pay Gaps, July 2015
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Advisory Group on Equal Pay Guidance, October 2015
  • The Commission for the Status of Women, UK government NGO consultation, November 2015
  • The Women and Equalities Select Committee Inquiry into the Gender Pay Gap, December 2015





















Book sections





I have applied an evidence-based approach to equalities policy making throughout my career, using research to provide expert advice to Welsh Ministers, as a standing invitee to the National Assembly of Wales' Equality of Opportunity Committee (2004-2007) and a member of the Welsh Assembly Government Mainstreaming Equality Task and Finish Group.

I have undertaken policy research and provided recommendation on various aspects of mainstreaming equality for the Welsh Government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Government Equalities Office UK,European Institute of Gender Equality, and Government of Malta. Special Advisor to the Women and Equality Committee Inquiry into the gendered economic impacts of Coronavirus (2021). 

A recurrent theme in my research has been developing intersectional approaches to evidence gathering in order to support mainstreaming equality across public policy.

Research funding

2024 - 2027 - Co-Investigator, Rural Wales Local Innovation Partnership. UKRI funded, 

2021-2022: Principal Investigator on research for the Welsh Government on how to mainstream equality into the skills required to meet Net Zero Targets.

2021 - 2022 Co-Investigator on research for Future Generations Commissioner Wales, investigating how climate mitigation policies may impact on existing inequalities. 

2019: Co–Investigator, GW4 Sustaining Communities Grant Award – Pay Equality Research Consortium (PERC)

With colleagues at Bath, Bristol and Exeter universities, the group is reviewing the current regulatory landscape for tackling pay inequalities, and with policy and practitioner colleagues, thinking about to increase their impact.

2016: Co–Investigator, GW4 Accelerator Grant Award – Pay Equality Research Consortium (PERC).

With colleagues within Cardiff University, Rhys Davies, WISERD, at Exeter University, Professor Carol Woodhams (PI), Bristol University, Dr Gregory Schwartz and Dr Susan Milner, Bath University;  scope employer understanding of pay inequalities and intersectional interest in these, mechanisms for gathering and analysing employer workforce and pay data, and related legal, data protection and security parameters, scope data collection tools and submit a full bid to the ESRC for research funding with employers.

2015: Co-Investigator, GW4 Initiator Grant Award – Pay Equality Research Consortium (PERC).

With colleagues at Exeter University, Professor Carol Woodhams, Bristol University, Professor Emerita Harriet Bradley, and Bath University, Dr Susan Harkness; build a multi-disciplinary consortium of scholars interested in understanding how to research and analyse intersectional pay inequalities.

2012 - 2015: Programme Director, Cardiff University research and programme delivery team for the ‘Women Adding Value to the Economy’, WAVE, programme.

Secured £1.1m to research gender employment and pay inequalities with employers, undertake labour market research and create the Equal Pay Barometer.

Cardiff University was a partner in this £4m programme which was  joint funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government, with joint sponsors the University of South Wales, The Women’s Workshop and Cardiff University.

Women Adding Value to the Economy (WAVE) at Cardiff University

Brief summary of our research and engagement activities

Employer case studies

To support the implementation of the Welsh 'equal pay duty', we demonstrated how the required workforce and pay data analysis should be undertaken. We worked collaboratively with three large public sector employers who had already completed job evaluation and equal pay audits. However, our findings showed how occupational segregation (by job, by working patterns and within the hierarchy), will continue to reproduce gender pay gaps unless inequalities in the structure of employment are addressed. Supported by the CU WAVE team, a gender pay analyst and change management consultant, these three employers have now created internal management teams, committed to addressing these issues through workforce planning and organisational development.

CU WAVE will release a Gender Employment and Pay Analysis Method (GEPA) so that all public sector organisations in Wales can replicate our case studies analysis. The Welsh Ministers Report on Equality (2014) supports the use of this method for reporting against the 'equal pay duty'.

Gender Employment and Pay Network (GEPN)

The Gender, Employment and Pay Network (GEPN) met quarterly to discuss the anonymised results from the Employer Case Studies and the development of the GEPA method. The seminars have also provided 'unconscious bias' training, and regular updates on the innovative change management measures currently underway in the employer case study organisations.

Equal Pay Barometer (EPB)

This on-line tool provides information on the gender composition of occupations, working patterns and pay in Wales.  The EPB was launched at Arriva Trains Wales, where young women from Treorchy Comprehensive School tried out the driver-training simulator:

Qualitative research

We have completed two qualitative research studies with the participants of two ICT training programmes run by our partner organisation The Women's Workshop at BAWSO. The findings provide vital insights into how to encourage women in careers in these occupations in future.

External engagement

Research findings and recommendations have been presented by us or drawn upon by others at:

  • Plenary discussions in the Synedd
  • NAW Cross Party Group for Women and the Economy
  • Welsh Government Women in Business Conference
  • European Conference on the future of Gender Mainstreaming (Brussels)
  • NHS Equality and Diversity Staff Council
  • NHS Job Evaluation managers and trainers conferences
  • WLGA Equality Network meeting
  • Public Sector Equality Network North Wales, equal pay seminar
  • The CU WAVE Women and Leadership public seminar
  • Chwarae Teg/ Academi Wales – Women in Leadership Group
  • The WEN Wales, Inaugural Annual Lecture
  • The Women's Workshop @ BAWSO Mentoring networks
  • The Design Council for Wales
  • The WAVE project launch event
  • The launch of the Equal Pay Barometer at Arriva Trains

Press and publicity

Our report, Working Patterns in Wales: Gender, Occupations and Pay (Parken, Pocher and Davies, 2014) has underpinned significant coverage of gender of employment and pay issues in the workplace within Welsh and UK media, and on social media.


Current Teaching:

Managing People - Cardiff Business School

Previous: gender theory, gender and employment, feminist theory, equality and diversity:

  • 2003 - 2011: M.Sc. Equality and Diversity, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. Lecturer for the core modules: Mainstreaming Equality, Equalities Theory, Managing Diversity in the work place.
  • 1999 - 2001: Module Convenor 'Gender Theory I & II', MSc. Gender and Social Policy, School for Social Policy, Bristol University.


Experience of working in the private, public and voluntary sectors. My research aims to support employers and governments to promote equality. 

Honours and awards

OBE for services to equality and diversity

Professional memberships

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission, Member of the EHRC Wales Committee (2017-2022),
  • Interim Chair 2019-2020

Committees and reviewing

2022 - present day - Human Rights Advisory Group

2020 - present day - Welsh Government's Gender Equality Forum

2020 - 2022 - Welsh Governnment's Covid-19 Moral and Ethical Advisory Group

August 2018 - July 2019 Welsh Government's Ministerial Steering Group: The Gender Equality Review