Dr Vanita Sundaram



I joined the Department in March 2006 after holding a five-year research post at the Danish National Institute of Public Health. I was primarily involved in research on gender-specific health effects of violence and sexual abuse. This was also the main focus of my doctoral research, which I conducted alongside a research assistantship.

Since joining the Department of Education, my research has focused on key issues within gender education and social justice more broadly, including anti-violence education, teenagers’ experiences of violence in and out of school, the content and role of sex education and 'lad cultures' in higher education. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Education and a member of the Centre for Research in Education and Social Justice and am keen to supervise research students working in any of the areas outlined above, as well as other issues related to education and social inequality.  I am currently researching gender-based violence among teenagers (and the preventative role of education); sex and relationships education (SRE) and the inclusion of gender and sexuality in SRE curricula; lad cultures in higher education, and models for challenging sexual violence in/at universities.

My undergraduate degree (Sociology) and my MA (Women’s Studies) were both completed at the University of Kent at Canterbury. I completed my PhD in Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. 

Departmental roles

  • Chair, Board of Studies (2016-present)
  • Equality & Diversity Champion (2015-present)
  • Chair, Athena SWAN departmental committee (2013-present)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies (2011-2013)
  • Admissions Tutor (2009-2011)
  • Deputy Director of Undergraduate Studies (2009-2011)

University roles

  • Departmental representative (Education), Athena SWAN working group
  • Equality and Diversity Committee
  • Social Sciences Faculty Board, elected academic member



My current research interests include young people’s experiences of violence, bystander approaches to preventing harassment and violence in school, the content and role of sex and relationships education and 'lad culture' and sexual violance in higher education.  I am interested in working with motivated research students on any of these areas and other issues within education and social justice more broadly.

Research group(s)


  • 2015- Mary Hudson (Reproduction of and challenges to ‘everyday sexism’ in secondary schools)
  • 2015- Annis Stead (Lad culture and higher education: definitions, prevalence and challenge)
  • 2015- Dawn Evans (Exploring the journeys of African and Caribbean women into leadership position in FE)
  • 2015- Eleni Zotou (Exploring trainee teachers’ perceptions of cultural and ethnic diversity in primary schools)
  • 2014- Catherine Atkinson (Children’s ‘doing’ of gender and sexuality in the primary school)
  • 2014- Paulina Bronfmann (Teaching human rights through the plays of Shakespeare)
  • 2014- Fang Guo (Sex and relationships education in schools)
  • 2011- Fasil Demsash (Exploring cultural diversity in English secondary schools)

Completed PhD students

  • 2008-2012 Dung Tong Tuyet (Identity and second language acquisition: Barriers to intercultural communication among Vietnamese students in the UK)
  • 2012-2016 Helen Sadler (The role of teaching assistants in facilitating the social inclusion of young people with special educational needs)
  • 2012-2016 Manuel Lopez Pereyra (Sexual diversity in UK schools: A study of trainee teachers’ awareness and perceptions of sexual diversity)
  • 2011-2016 Jawaher Alwedinani (Gender and subject choice in higher education in Saudi Arabia)

External activities


  • Gender and Education Association Executive Committee
  • Sociology Associate Board
  • British Educational Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Safe Studies Network

Editorial duties

Reviewer for:

  • Gender and Education, Sociology, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Gender and Society, ESRC
  • The Sociological Quarterly
  • Social Science and Medicine

International Links

  • National Institute of Public Health, Denmark
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Deakin University, Australia
  • University of Copenhagen
  • Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain


Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 323466