Dr Katy Pilcher

Senior Lecturer in Sociology 

Dr Katy Pilcher
Katy joined Aston University as a Lecturer in Sociology in September 2013. Prior to joining Aston, she held positions as Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Health Sciences and Social Care at Brunel University, and as Research Associate in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham. Katy completed her ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology at the University of Warwick in 2012, entitled ‘Erotic Dancing in Night-Time Leisure Venues: A Sociological Study of Erotic Dance Performers and Customers’. This work is detailed in a research monograph Erotic Performance and Spectatorship: New Frontiers in Erotic Dance (2017, Routledge) and a number of academic journals.  Katy  co-edited a book entitled Queer Sex Work (2015, Routledge) with Dr Nicola Smith (University of Birmingham) and Dr Mary Laing (Northumbria University), which brings together insights from sex workers, academics, practitioners and activists. Katy is currently undertaking two research projects. She is working on a BA/Leverhulme-funded project entitled ‘Empowering Pleasures? ‘Sexual’ Leisure Spaces For Women’, and is also conducting research into the sexual health needs of ‘online’ sex workers in Birmingham for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Katy is an Editorial Board Member of Sociological Research Online.
  • Postgraduate Certificate of Professional Practice in Higher Education, with Distinction, Aston University (2015, HEA Fellowship).
  • PhD Sociology (ESRC Funded), University of Warwick (2012).
  • MA Social Research, with Distinction (ESRC Funded), University of Warwick (2008).
  • BA (Hons) Sociology, with First Class Honours, University of Warwick (2007).



  • LK2005 Embodiment and Feminist Theory
  • LK2027 Media and Society
  • LK3028 Racism, Class and Gender


  • LYM012 Qualitative Research Methods

Katy also supervises dissertations at Undergraduate and Masters level. 

PhD Supervision

  • Philippa Locke (PhD awarded in 2015, funded by ARCHA) ‘Exploring care relations in later life: disentangling notions of care and choice ’
  • Amy Simmons - ‘Autistic individuals' experiences of transition in post-secondary education'


Katy welcomes enquiries from potential PhD students in areas related to her research interests.








Gender, Sexualities, Embodiment, Work and Employment Relations, Ageing, Sex Work, Leisure Spaces and Night-time Economies, the use of Visual Methods in Qualitative research.

Journal Articles 

Journal Special Issues 

  • Pilcher, K and K Salmi (2013) Co-edited special issue: ‘New Writings in Feminist and Women’s Studies: Winning and Short-listed Entries from the 2012 Feminist and Women’s Studies Association’s Annual Student Essay Competition’, Journal of International Women’s Studies, 14(4).


Book Chapters

  • Smith, N, M Laing and K Pilcher (2015) ‘Being, Thinking and Doing ‘Queer’ in Debates about Commercial Sex’, in Laing, M, K Pilcher and N Smith (eds.) Queer Sex Work, London: Routledge.
  • Pilcher, K (2015) ‘Subverting heteronormativity in a lesbian erotic dance venue? Queer moments and heteronormative tensions’, in Laing, M, K Pilcher and N Smith (eds.) Queer Sex Work, London: Routledge.
  • Pilcher, K (2012) 'A 'Sexy Space' for Women? Heterosexual Women's Experiences of a Male Strip Show Venue', in J Caudwell and K Browne (eds.) Sexualities, Spaces and Leisure Studies, London: Routledge.

Book Reviews


Academic Magazine/Newsletter Publications







  • British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (2017-2019) ‘Empowering Pleasures? ‘Sexual’ Leisure Spaces For Women’, £8613, Principal Investigator, Aston University.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (2017) ‘Improving the sexual health of ‘online’ sex workers in Birmingham’, £40,019, Co-Investigator, with Dr Pam Lowe (Principal Investigator), Prof Helen Pattison (Co-Investigator) and Dr Vicki Whittaker (Research Fellow), Aston University.
  • ESRC First Grants Scheme (2010-13) ‘Photographing Everyday Life: An Exploration of Ageing, Lived Experiences, Space and Time’, £244,607.87 (Principal Investigator: Dr Wendy Martin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Dr Katy Pilcher), Brunel University.
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (2011-12) ‘Male and Transgender Sex Work in the UK and The Netherlands’, £36,743 (Principal Investigator: Dr Nicola Smith, Research Associate: Dr Katy Pilcher), University of Birmingham.
  • ESRC 1+3 Funding (2007-11) MA in Social Research and a PhD in Sociology entitled ‘Erotic Dancing in Night-Time Leisure Venues: A Sociological Study of Erotic Dance Performers and Customers’, University of Warwick.
  • Feminist and Women's Studies Association UK and Ireland (FWSA) (Executive Committee Member 2010-2016)
  • British Sociological Association Member (and member of the BSA Ageing, Body and Society Study Group and the BSA Gender Study Group)
  • European Sociological Association Member
  • Sex Work Research Hub Member
  • Centre for Sex Work Research and Policy UK Member.





  • LSS Equality and Diversity Committee
  • Sociology and Policy Teaching Enhancer
  • Co-founder of Aston Feminist Café (with Dr Olga Castro)
  • Sociology & Policy Internal REF panel member


  • Editorial Board member of Sociological Research Online.
  • Feminist and Women's Studies Association UK and Ireland (FWSA) Executive Committee Member - Small Grants Scheme Officer 2010-2016.


  • With Dr Wendy Martin (Brunel University) and Laura O’Malley (Artist) Katy curated ‘Photographing Everyday Life: Ageing, Lived Experiences, Time and Space - An Interactive Photographic Exhibition’, 28th June 2013, Brunel University. This research has also been exhibited at The British Library, the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds. Images from the launch exhibition and presentations can be found HERE.
  • With a team at The Reinvention Centre, University of Warwick, Katy made a documentary film entitled ‘Students at Work: Learning to Labour in Higher Education’. Interviews conducted and arranged by Katy included Polly Toynbee, The Guardian; Professor Bev Skeggs, Goldsmiths, London; and Duncan Jones, BBC, Coventry. The film can be viewed HERE.


Room:  NW 906
Phone: 0121 204 3599
Email: K.Pilcher@Aston.ac.uk