Press release: Manifesto calls for international action to tackle inequality of opportunities and pay for women academics
Universities that ensure equal opportunities for women academics should be rewarded with better scores in global league tables, a new international manifesto to tackle gender inequality in higher education says.
Key performance indicators for gender equality should be included in university quality audits and used as a measure in world university rankings, the manifesto argues.
The move is proposed as part of a range of measures to redress the poor representation of women in academic leadership and research in many countries, including the UK.
The manifesto was agreed by 50 academics from the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmer, at a conference in Hong Kong organised by the British Council.
It calls for universities across the world to declare what proportion of their professors, leading researchers and students are women, and to supply data on gender pay equality to league table compilers.
The manifesto urges research funding bodies to change rules for allocating research grants that in some countries exclude part time workers, and to monitor the proportion of successful grant applicants that are women. It also suggests that a global database to map women in senior positions should be created.
Women account for only 29 per cent of the world’s researchers, according to UNESCO, and some of the lowest levels of representation are found at leading universities. In the UK about 20 per cent of professors are women, but the figure falls to 9.4 per cent at the University of Oxford, Louise Morley, Professor of Education at the University of Sussex, told the conference.
“Women are less likely to be journal editors and cited in top-rated journals, to be principal investigators, be included on research boards, awarded large grants, and awarded research prizes,” she said.
A range of factors were keeping them out, including lack of transparency in decision-making, university promotion practices, errors in assessing leadership potential, and a gender bias in peer review exercises, she added.
But women leaders also have a part to play in addressing the issues, according to Professor Dawn Freshwater, Pro-vice chancellor of the University of Leeds. They must stop acting like “Stepford leaders” by adopting a corporate look, hiding their emotions and working long hours to imitate men, she said.
The conference heard how some countries have successfully introduced measures to promote gender equality in higher education and research. In the Philippines, for example, nearly 64 per cent of research project leaders in health and over 41 per cent in industry are women.
The Manifesto for Women in Academic Leadership and Research will be discussed at the British Council’s Global Education Dialogue in Tokyo on 15-16 January, and will be included in a report on women in higher education to be discussed at the British Council’s 2013 Going Global conference in Dubai on 4-6 March.
Pat Killingley, the British Council’s Director of Higher Education, said: “Equal opportunities for women in higher education is an important topic that generated a lot of interest at this year’s Going Global conference in London. We expect a lively debate on the key issues when the manifesto and report are presented in Dubai.”
Equality in higher education: statistical report 2011
Staff: key facts and figures
Overall in 2009/10, 53.8% ofall staff were women. There were slight variations across the nations (figure 1.1).
Female staff made up 46.8% of full-time staff and 67.1% of part- time staff (figure 1.3).
While there has been relatively little change in professional and support roles in relation to gender since 2003/04, there has been a marked increase in female academics (40.0% to 44.0%) (figure 1.6).
A higher proportion of staff in professorial roles were male (80.9%) than female (19.1%) (figure 1.13).
Men comprised 55.7% of academic staff in non-manager roles and 72.0% of academic staff in senior managementroles (figure 1.15).
57.0% of male academic staffworked in SET departments compared with 47.6% of female staff (figure 1.17).
The median salary of female staff was £29,853 compared with £35,646 for male staff, an overall median pay gap of 16.3% (figure 1.28).
The mean salary of female staff was £31,116 compared with £39,021 for male staff, an overall mean pay gap of 20.3% (figure 1.28).
The proportion of women academics in UK has increased slightly, from 40% in 2003-04 to to 44% in 2010-11.
For example, in Australia, the percentage of women at and above senior lecturer has risen from 15.4% in 1999, to 27.3% by 2011 (Chesterman, 2001, Australian Government, 2012) whilst the proportion of women academics in UK has increased to 44% by 2010-11, from 40% in 2003-04 (ECU, 2011).
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