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Episode 2: The Paula Principle

Vault_Ep1_The Paula Principle

In this interview with Professor Tom Schuller about his latest book The Paula Principle, Tom talks about how and why women tend to work below their level of competence.

Back in the 1960s. The Peter Principle (four-million-copy bestseller), argued that male workers will inevitably be promoted to one level BEYOND their competence. 

After decades of research in adult education, Tom found the consistent opposite pattern for women. Regardless of the attainment levels achieved, the organisations values espoused – women work BELOW their level of competence. 

This is where unconscious bias and workplace culture, meets our own experience of self-doubt. A must-listen for every employee!

About Tom

Professor Tom Schuller is committed to expanding learning opportunities for everyone, at any age and stage. He has worked as a researcher, teacher and senior manager in universities in England and Scotland, and at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, one of the world’s most influential international think tanks.

From 2008-2010 Tom directed the independent Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning, sponsored by the UK’s National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education. From 2003-2008 he was Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) at OECD in Paris, with responsibility for CERI’s projects relating to some 30 countries. Before that Tom was Dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Professor of Lifelong Learning at Birkbeck, University of London; and co-director of the Research Centre on the Wider Benefits of Learning. He currently chairs the Prisoner Learning Alliance.

For 10 years Tom chaired the Governing Board of the Working Men’s College in London, Europe’s oldest adult education institute. His latest book is “The Paula Principle: How and why women work below their competence level.” His current learning ambitions include improving on the clarinet so he can make a better contribution to his band.


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