Round-up: Striking the gender balance in higher education

What we know so far and what’s next on the agenda…

2018 has already marked a year, quite unlike any other for Higher Education. The public debate on gender and equality has gathered force and prominent members of the academic community are beginning to make their voices heard.

Over recent months we have worked hard to broaden our understanding of some of the many, often nuanced, causes for historic failings in higher education, when it comes to the promotion of diversity and equality in academic and researchers’ careers.

Key Findings

In the United Kingdom, data on the gender pay gap was published in the March- April, and the findings illustrated what everyone had suspected – in companies of over 250 employees there is a deficit in the women’s earning figures, when compared to their male counterparts. The question that we asked ourselves was, What does this mean for Higher Education? In a sector, where 80% of university Vice-Chancellors are male, and the numbers of Vice-Chancellors from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) at the top 50 universities in the UK is under 2%, it is still baffling that more isn’t being done to address underrepresentation.

The role of recruiters

As specialists in academic recruitment, we looked closer at some of the ways that recruiters are attempting to overcome bias in the early stages of applications, which uncovered a deep-rooted, yet little understood problem, identified as ‘gender coded bias’ in job advertisements. The subtleties in language and communication in job adverts directly impact audience engagement – certain words and phrases appeal more to men than they do to women. In our earlier post, we unpacked these surprising findings and looked at some of the possible solutions. The recruiter tool, Applied was one such solution and we will be publishing our interview with Applied’s CEO, Kate Glazebrook in next week’s blog.

Personal vs. professional: relationships and difficult career decisions

Working alongside our partners at WonkHe.com, regular contributor Jo Mitchell investigated the negative correlation between ‘academic citizenship’ and career progression in HE. Our research also lead us to question the impact that academic careers have on committed relationships, and vice versa, issues debated in this article. Meaningful career progression is often achieved to the detriment of personal bonds and familial relationships, this much is usually taken as a given, however the evidence suggests that women overwhelmingly bear the brunt of this unhappy fact.

There is plenty more work to be done, but our first forays looking at gender imbalance and representation in HE has made surprising and sometimes, uncomfortable reading. Global Academy Jobs’ CEO, Wendy Stone reflects on the series so far, here.

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Gareth Ridley-DeMonick
Communications Manager at Global Academy Jobs

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