Penelope Plowman


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Personal profile


External Research Associate: Penelope J. Plowman.

External Research Associate and Independent Consultant.

Penny holds a PhD from the School of International Development University of East Anglia (2006).  

Her doctoral research examines gender, change and organisation in the context of a South African NGO.  She conducted an organisational ethnography and used participatory methodology to examine organisational culture from multiple perspectives. Insights from her doctoral research inform her practice as an educator and organisational development practitioner.

Penny’s interest in organisations, reflective practice and participatory qualitative research is rooted in her experience of living and working in South Africa and working internationally.  She is a strong advocate of writing and dialogue for personal and organisation-wide change and teaches and supports the use of free writing, personal learning journal and the qualitative diary study.

Penny contributes to the School and the Professional Training and Consultancy work of International Development UEA as a teacher, trainer, mentor and supervisor

LDG/ UNESCO Chair Group - I joined this interdisciplinary group - DEV and Education -  in October 2022 

Teaching : Seminars

March 2024:

Gender Mainstreaming Seminar, Gender Diversity and Social Development Module, School of International Development 

- Seminar explores what gender mainstreaming means for organisations. What is gender mainstreaming? How do organisations promote gender mainstreaming? What have we learnt from Covid?  What does gender mainstreaming mean for 'hybrid' working ?

What does theory and practice tell us about gender and intersectionality? 

Teaching: Short courses on gender and organisational change

"Gender and Organisational Change: Practical Techniques and Approaches for Gender Specialists"  - short course for International Development Students ( Professional skills training ).

Online Gender and Organisational Change ( 5 days over a month) April-May 2020 

Online Gender and Organisational Change ( 5 days over a month) April-May 2020  -

In the Covid pandemic, Penny designed an online course and wrote a blog about the experience. The blog describes the new modular course.


2010 to 2019

“Gender and Organisational Change: Practical Techniques and Approaches for Gender Specialists”

Penny's five-day course introduces students to the theory and practice of gender and organisational change.  The course draws on Penny’s practical experience of supporting NGOs for gender equality.  Examples of practical case studies: Plan International, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), ITAD Monitoring and Evaluation for International Development, and DFID South Africa and India. Penny’s teaching methodology supports experiential learning, reflective and participatory practice. 

Other courses: 

“Gender and Climate Change” -  DEV Short Course on Climate Change and Development

“Lessons from Practice”  -  Social Analysis in International Development Module (SAID).


Penny holds a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Social Studies, Department of Social Work, University of Bristol UK (1988), BA (Hons) in Social Administration University of Nottingham UK (1981) and PhD in International Development, University of East Anglia.

Doctoral thesis

Plowman, P. J. (2006) Gender, change and organisation: A South African Case Study.


Selected Journal Articles reflecting Penny’s research, teaching and practice

Penelope J. Plowman (2016) "Participatory methodologies for intersectional research in organisations", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 5 Issue: 1, pp.28 – 43


Plowman, P. (2010) The diary project: Revealing the gendered organisation. Qualitative Research in Organisations and Management: An international journal Vol 5 Issue 1 Pages 28-46. Highly Commended 2011 Award from Emerald Literati-Network.


Plowman, P. (2003) Organisational Change from two perspectives: gender and organisational development. Development Methods and Approaches, Critical Reflections, A Development in Practice Reader pp 104 – 123. 


Training Workshops

Penny runs bespoke training workshops in the following areas:


Qualitative Diary Study 

Qualitative Diary Study 

Penny designs and runs bespoke workshops for researchers/ academics/ Phd students on the Qualitative Diary Method. These can be small group trainings or one to one sessions. She draws from her own experience of adapting the method for her doctoral research and provides a step by step training in which participants have the opportunity to think through how they might apply this method to their own research interests. Penny has experience of running bespoke training workshops across disciplines including international development, education, health, HIV and AIDS, leadership and management. 

Penny first used the Qualitative Diary Method in her doctoral research  - an ethnographic organisational case study - and has since run numerous training workshops in South Africa and in the UK for researchers and others interested in using this method.

South African Universities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Witwatersrand and Pretoria.  

UK Universities:  UEA, Birkbeck College, Royal Holloway University of London.  

The qualitative diary method is applicable across disciplines.

Penny talks about her adaptation of the diary study in a podcast:

The Podcast explores the benefits and challenges of using the Qualitative Diary Method for international development research  The discussion draws out three different experiences of using the diary method to examine  1) gender and organisational culture ( Penny's research), 2) marginalised students in HE in India and 3) displaced Syrian academics.  The Podcast is faciliated by Dr Emily Henderson, University of Warwick.



2) Personal Learning Journal

See Penny's Blog on the Personal Learning Journal

3) Free writing 

See Penny's Blog on the benefits of Free Writing and how to do Free Writing.


Penny offers one to one coaching for work/ professional development /study.  Penny draws on her skills in reflective practice which she finds invaluable in her coaching work. The number of sessions and timing responds to the client's requirements.  

NEW Coaching for Research IMPACT - 2023 /2024

Individual coaching for academics for Research Impact.

Pilot Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge 

School of Humanities and Social Sciences




Mentoring for individuals / teams on gender and organistaional change

Drawing on Penny's extensive experience in international development, she offers bespoke support to individuals and teams addressing gender in organisations.  

External links/ collaborations:

University of Warwick: Diary Method Reading Group.  Member of Diary Method Reading Group, a group that meets online three times a semester and open to anyone interested in this research method.  There are researchers from a number of different universities who participate.  The group is hosted by Dr Emily Henderson, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick.  

Podcast on the Diary Method - in this podcast I talk about my adaptation of the Diary Research Method in my doctoral research

Research Instruments Workshop, University of Warwick ( March 2023): I participated in a consultative workshop to discuss research tools for a project in India entitled, ' Widening Access to Higher Education in India' ( WAHEI).  This project is spoken about in the Diary Method Podcast. 

Horizon Foundation ( 2022 ongoing) -   Coaching and Mentoring .

Horizon Foundation offers scholarships to exceptional young people from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Asia. 

From 2022, I have taken on a variety of roles working with the CEO and students.  1) One to one coaching for school students.

2) Reflection workshop for university students. 3)  Support to CEO for film editing/ production. 

Please get in touch via my email for all enquiries :


PennyP's Blogs and Consultancy Services visit:

PennyP's other websites

Areas of Expertise

Qualitative research methods and participatory methodology

Qualitative Research Diary Method

Gender and Organisational Change  -  organisational analysis/ gender equality participatory organisational self assessment ( linking theory and practice) 

Reflective practice  - writing / journalling/ dialogue 


Small group work 


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 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action