BSS (Hons) (QUT); PhD (QUT)


Paula McDonald is Professor of Work and Organisation and Associate Dean, Research in the QUT Faculty of Business and Law. Since completing her PhD in 2004, Paula has partnered with organisations in the public, private and community sectors on collaborative research which advances social justice in and beyond the workplace.

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 to end-users via expert testimony, workplace training, commissioned research reports, media engagement, submissions to government inquiries, membership on advisory committees, and public 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 has led cross-institutional teams to examine the economic, spatial and work organisation dimensions of digital platform work and the implications of this for Australian regulatory and policy responses. This includes a major national prevalence survey of digital platform work commissioned by the Victorian Government and studies of how platforms organise aged/disability care and design/creative work, including in partnership with German-based platform Paula, alongside researchers in robotics engineering, was recently awarded an ARC Training Centre for collaborative robotics in advanced manufacturing.

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 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.

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, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Victoria Police, BHP, Qld Corrective Services and Legal Aid Qld on successive organisational reviews, prevalence studies and related codes of practice for employers. Internationally, she has consulted to and provided expert advice and testimony to the Canadian House of Commons, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United Nations and the UN World Food Program. She is an invited member of the University of California Berkeley global Comparative Equality and Antidiscrimination Group.

Prior to an academic career, 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 and a senior fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.

2019 to current Associate Dean - Research, QUT Business School

2012-2019, Professor of Work and Organisation; ARC Future Fellow, QUT Business School

2003-2012, Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer/Research Fellow, QUT Business School

2002-2003, Clinical Psychologist, Men’s Information and Support Association

1997-2002, Project / Research Officer, Brisbane North Division of General Practice

1996-1997, Senior Research Assistant, Qld Medical Education Centre (UQ)

1995-1996, Research Assistant, Centre for Health Promotion (UQ)

1990-1997, Registered Nurse: Child, Adolescent, Adult Mental Health, Royal Brisbane and Children’s Hospitals

Registered Psychologist Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, 2003-current

Member, University of California Berkeley Comparative Equality Group, 2018-current

Senior Fellow, UK Higher Education Academy, 2016-current

AICD Award, Australian Institute of Company Directors, 2016

Member, International Sociological Association 2018-current

Member, Association of Industrial Relations of Australia and New Zealand, 2007-current

Member, Australian Work and Family Policy Roundtable, 2012-current

  1. McDonald, P., Williams, P. & Mayes, R. (2021). How professional photographers engage with and resist digital platform work. New Media & Society, 23(6), 1602-1623.
  2. McDonald, P., Williams, P. & Mayes, R. (2020, online). Means of control in the organisation of digitally intermediated care work. Work, Employment & Society,
  3. Thompson, P., McDonald, P. & O’Connor P. (2020). Employee dissent on social media and organisational discipline. Human Relations, 73(5), 631-652.
  4. McDonald, P. (2020). Open market internships: What do intermediaries offer? Journal of Education and Work, 33(1), 33-47.
  5. McDonald, P. (2018). How flexible are the anticipated careers of young people? Human Relations, 71(1), 23-46.