Professor Paula McDonald

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Doctor of Philosophy (Queensland University of Technology)

Paula McDonald is Professor of Work and Organisation and Associate Dean, Research in the QUT Business School. She is also visiting Professor at Queen Mary University London. Since completing her PhD in 2004, Paula has worked closely with organisations in the public, private and community sectors on collaborative research which advances social justice in and beyond the workplace. Her research addresses:

  • technology and work (including digital platforms, social media, automation and AI);
  • youth education to work transitions;
  • vulnerable and disadvantaged worker groups;
  • customised/flexible work and public/private boundaries;
  • gendered dimensions of work (including pay equality, notions of merit, everyday sexism)
  • workplace discrimination (including sex discrimination, sexual harassment)

Paula has published over 100 academic journal articles, books, chapters and industry reports in these fields. She has been awarded 8 Australian Research Council grants including a Future Fellowship from 2013-16; five as lead investigator.

Paula’s research has had demonstrable impact via expert testimony, workplace training, commissioned research reports, media engagement, inquiry and select committee submissions, membership on steering committees, and speaking engagements. Her research was selected for submission to Excellence in Research Australia 2018 in Field of Research code 15 and was ranked ‘high’ in this process.

Paula’s experience in higher education governance is reflected in her election and appointment to key university-level committees including QUT Council (2017-21); University Research and Innovation Committee (2019-current); University Academic Board (2020-21); University Human Research Ethics Committee (2007-11); Academic Misconduct panels (2007; 2017); Research Degrees Committee (2011-12); ERA Research Quality groups (2015; 2018); and the University Promotions Committee (2011-12).

Paula is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (2016). Prior to an academic career (pre-2004), Paula held clinical and research roles in child and adolescent psychiatry, medical education and public health. She is a registered psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Agency since 2003 and a senior fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy since 2016.

Projects (Chief investigator)

Projects

Additional information

Currently, Paula leads an ARC Discovery and cross-institutional team which is examining the economic, spatial and work organisation dimensions of digital platform work and the implications of this for Australian regulatory and policy responses. The team recently published a major report from a national survey commissioned by the Victorian Government which revealed for the first time the prevalence of digital platform work in Australia. Currently, the team are exploring how platforms organise aged/disability care and design/creative work, including in partnership with German-based platform Care.com. Paula, alongside researchers in robotics engineering, was recently awarded an ARC Training Centre for collaborative robotics in advanced manufacturing. Published articles include: New Media & Society and Work, Employment & Society.

Also relevant to the impact of technology on work and workplaces, Paula’s research has addressed the ‘contested terrain’ of social media in employment. This includes how workers and managerial agents negotiate tensions between personal and professional behaviours on social media platforms, and the magnitude of concerns about privacy, professionalism, autonomy, and regulation. Published articles include: the International Journal of Management Reviews, Human Relations and Human Resource Management Journal.

Paula’s ARC Future Fellowship adopted interdisciplinary perspectives from employment relations and youth studies to ask how young Australians conceive of their rights and responsibilities in employment, the extent to which they can enact these capacities, and how they anticipate their future engagement in the formal economy. The research built on an earlier ARC Linkage grant which examined how school students aged 13-16 understood and negotiated their formative experiences of paid work. In this field of education to work transitions, Paula has also examined unpaid work and internships, including being an author of the first Australian prevalence study of unpaid work commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Employment, and the experiences of vulnerable job-seekers via research commissioned by youth organisation SYC. Published articles include: Human Relations; Work, Employment & Society; Journal of Youth Studies; Sociology; International Journal of Management Reviews; and the Australian Journal of Labour Law.

Paula is one of Australia’s foremost experts on workplace sexual harassment. Her research has been supported by an ARC Discovery grant on the causes and solutions to this costly workplace problem. Adopting socio-legal and organisational perspectives, Paula has worked with the Australian Human Rights Commission on successive national reviews and prevalence studies and related codes of practice for employers. She has also consulted to and provided expert advice and testimony to the Canadian House of Commons (Ottawa), the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Washington DC), Legal Aid Qld (Brisbane), Qld Corrective Services (Brisbane), the United Nations (New York), and the UN World Food Program (Rome). From 2016-18, Paula was the academic member of an expert panel for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s review into sexual harassment and predatory behaviour in Victoria Police. She is an invited member of the University of California Berkeley global Comparative Equality and Antidiscrimination Group. Currently, Paula is exploring the impacts of the global #MeToo movement. Published articles include: Work, Employment & Society; International Journal of Management Reviews; and International Journal of Human Resource Management.

Paula’s research in the area of work-life boundaries has been supported by an ARC Linkage grant with explored policy-practice gaps in the Qld public sector and an ARC Discovery which involved replicated data collection in the Australian Defence Force, the Suncorp group, and several community organisations to examine work customisations from a social exchange perspective. The findings are relevant to diverse workplace settings, as indicated by invited presentations to end-user audiences in early childhood, defence, education, management consultancy, public sector departments, and human rights agencies. Published articles include: British Journal of Management; International Journal of Human Resource Management; Journal of Management and Organization; and Journal of Industrial Relations.

Prior to an academic career, Paula worked in clinical and research roles in the health sector, including at the Royal Brisbane and Children’s Hospitals, the Men’s Support and Advisory service, the Brisbane North Division of General Practice, and Queensland Medical Education Centre at the University of Queensland. She is a registered psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency since 2003.

Type
Advisor/Consultant for Community
Reference year
2017
Details
Commissioned to write expert report for Legal Aid Queensland for case of sexual harassment taken to the Fair Work Commission
Type
Advisor/Consultant for Industry
Reference year
2017
Details
Expert adviser to the review of sexual harassment and drug abuse in the University of Sydney Colleges conducted by LizBroderick Consulting
Type
Advisor/Consultant for Industry
Reference year
2017
Details
Expert adviser to the Australian Human Rights Commission / Universities Australia Review into sexual harassment and sexual violence on Australian university campuses (Respect.Now.Always).
Type
Appointment to State/National/International Reference Group or Government Committees
Reference year
2017
Details
Invited international academic adviser to the Employment Relations and Equality Institute, Manchester University Business School
Type
Appointment to State/National/International Reference Group or Government Committees
Reference year
2017
Details
Invited expert panel member (one of four) to the Review into Sexual Harassment, Sex Discrimination and Predatory Behaviour in Victoria Police, conducted by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Type
Membership of a Statutory Committee
Reference year
2017
Details
Elected staff member representative to QUT Council.
Type
Recipient of a Nationally Competitive Research Fellowship
Reference year
2016
Details
ARC Future Fellowship (20113-16)
Type
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
2015
Details
Leone Warne Memorial Award for the best paper at the 2015 Defence Human Science Symposium, Sydney.
Type
Appointment to State/National/International Reference Group or Government Committees
Reference year
2015
Details
Expert witness: Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women in an investigation into sexual harassment in the federal workplace.
Title
Working the Gig Economy: The Organisation of Digital Platform Work
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP180101191
Start year
2018
Keywords
Title
Identifying effective strategies to grow and sustain a professional early years workforce
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP140100652
Start year
2014
Keywords
Early Childhood Education And Care; Professional Identity; Workforce
Title
Customising Work through Manager-Employee Exchange
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP120101560
Start year
2012
Keywords
Customised Work Arrangements; Flexible Work; Right To Request; Social Exchange; Ideosyncratic Deals; Employment Relations
Title
Young people and work: pathways to industrial citizenship
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
FT120100635
Start year
2012
Keywords
Employment ; Vulnerable Workers; Young Workers; Youth Pathways
Title
Sexual Harassment in Australia: Contexts, Outcomes and Prevention
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
DP1093442
Start year
2010
Keywords
Sexual Harassment; Employment; Gender and Organisation; Anti Discrimination Law
Title
Social Citizenship and Employment for Secondary School Students
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP0774931
Start year
2007
Keywords
social citizenship at work; youth employment; education; school to work transition; industrial relations;
Title
Bridging the Gap between the Provision and Utilisation of Work-Life Policies
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP0455074
Start year
2005
Keywords
employee relations; work life balance; flexible work arrangements; work life culture; work life policies;
Title
Work-Life Balance in the Construction Industry: Innovative Strategies for Improving Employee Well-Being and Performance in Project Management Teams
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
LP0560581
Start year
2005
Keywords
Worl-Life Balance; Work-Life Conflict; Construction; Work Hours