Prof Abigail Powell: The tenacity of social inequalities - what is the solution?

  • Two female academics talking at a conference, smiling, engaged

Gender inequality, racism, financial exclusion, homelessness, youth unemployment. These are just some of the social inequalities that policy-makers and others have been grappling with over recent decades


They are what some have called ‘wicked’ or complex problems; seemingly intractable issues, with multiple, hard to identify causes and no simple solution. In this lecture, Abigail brings together her research across social inequalities to understand the tenacity of gender inequality, financial exclusion and youth unemployment and examines society’s failure to shift the dial on these issues in any meaningful way. Drawing on sociological frameworks, including systems thinking and feminist institutionalism, Abigail argues that overcoming these issues requires a deeper understanding of the ecosystems in which they occur and the relationship between different parts of the systems, and calls for a move beyond quick-fix solutions.



Abigail is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Lincoln (UK), where she holds positions in the Eleanor Glanville Centre and as Consultancy Lead in the College of Social Science. Abigail’s research is underpinned by her passion for social justice and equality. She is an expert in the gender division of labour (in the home and workplace), with a particular focus on gender in male-dominated occupations; youth studies; financial wellbeing and complex evaluation and impact measurement.

Abigail has published widely in sociology, social policy, management and industrial relations journals, as well as translating research findings for a range of audiences, including academics, policy-makers and the public. She has attracted research income of over AUD$5million working with, and delivering research for government, not-for-profits and industry, including for example National Australia Bank (NAB), Macquarie Group Foundation, Homelessness NSW, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, Good Shepherd Microfinance, the Paul Ramsay Foundation and yourtown. Abigail has strong leadership and relationship management skills and is an experienced project manager and mentor. Abigail is a mixed method researcher with expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods and analysis. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) UNSW Sydney and has previously held positions at UNSW Sydney and Loughborough University.

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