Tag Archive | "gender gap"

‘The Unequal Academy’ : a one day conference to explore gender inequality in academia

Women’s under-representation in education settings, and especially in their more powerful or influential posts is well established. In 27 countries of the European Union women occupy just only 20 per cent of A grade (full professor) (She Figures, 2012). In UK universities, men outnumber women by a margin of four to one in senior academic positions while women are over-represented in lower teaching grades and temporary research positions (Morley, 1999; Bagilhole, 2002). The under-representation of women within the academy extends to editorial board memberships (Metz & Harzing, 2009) and research funding bodies (European Commission, 2008). Finally, of the 24 research-intensive universities comprising the Russell group, only one namely, The University of Manchester is led by a woman.

global gender index
global gender index

These gender differences are even more pronounced in science and technology as the Times Higher Education’s Global Gender Index shows (Times Higher Education) but these differences are also evident in business and management schools. In my recent article I have analysed the data from the top 10 business schools around the world using the Financial Times rankings to show that women rarely exceed more than a quarter of all academic staff and that their representation in leadership positions is even lower (Fotaki, 2013). However, statistics do not show the informal processes of exclusion, devaluation, and marginalization that constitute major impediments to women faculty members’ achievements. These strike at the very heart of the academic enterprise, posing questions about the gendering of meritocracy. The absence of women from senior roles in management education settings may also have a potentially detrimental impact on promoting different role models for future operatives and leaders.

The dramatic increase of numbers of students and university lecturers in higher education, and management schools in the UK in particular, has hardly altered the nature of gendered work relations in the university. The majority of women academics occupy lower-paid teaching posts and temporary research positions and their unequal pay and career prospects are well documented. Gender inequalities and various forms of discrimination are also experienced by students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. For example, women remain a minority on MBA courses, and there are very few programmes aiming to develop female business leaders (Ibeh et al., 2008).

Gender discrimination is culturally embedded and ideologically-informed stereotypes prove particularly difficult to shift. Researchers indicate how ‘feminine’ roles from outside professional life seem to continue to disadvantage women’s careers, and how their careers limit their personal life choices. However, complex considerations affecting women’s position in academia extend beyond marital status and the presence or absence of children or the existence of institutional policies aiming to promote gender diversity. Since gender stereotypes are ideological and prescriptive, their influence on academic employment processes is unlikely to diminish simply with the passage of time or with accumulating evidence of women’s capabilities. Women’s relative absence from senior academic positions is not simply a result of poor policy or erratic implementation, but a deep-seated issue requiring cultural and generational change.

Tomorrow’s one day research conference  – ‘The Unequal Academy’  – will explore these issues, bringing together scholars from across a range of disiplinies and institutions to interrogate the nature and effect of these gender inequalities within academies. The aims of the one-day conference are:

(i)                 To examine in-depth the causes of such discrimination from a comparative perspective by drawing on a variety of theoretical approaches and empirical evidence;

(ii)               To understand the reasons for discrepancy between university policies which are aimed to preclude discrimination and the lived experiences of women

(iii)             To propose evidence-based ways of counteracting this phenomenon.

Speakers include: Prof Mary Evans London School of Economics and Political Science, Prof Rosalind Gill Kings College London, Prof Valerie Hey Sussex University, Prof Rosemary Deem Royal Holloway University of London, Prof Helen Gunter University of Manchester and Prof Marianna Fotaki Manchester Business School.

The event, sponsored by Jean Monet Interdisciplinary Research Centre, is organised on 5th of June in Manchester Business School Manchester Business School (MBS West room 3.97 9.30-17.30). Attendance is free but registration is required –please contact Sophie.Thomas@mbs.ac.uk to book your place!

The event is organised by Marianna Fotaki, Professor in Health Policy, Organisation Theory and Ethics in People Management and Organisations Division, Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester. Marianna.Fotaki@mbs.ac.uk


Bagilhole, B. (2002). Challenging equal opportunities: Changing and adapting male hegemony in academia. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 23, 1, 19-33.

European Commission (2012). She Figures. Women and Science. Statistics and Indicators. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

European Commission (2008). Mapping the Maze: Getting More Women to the Top in Research. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Fotaki, M. (2013). No woman is like a man (in academia): The masculine symbolic order and the unwanted female body. Organization Studies (forthcoming)

Ibeh, K., Carter, S., Poff, D. & Hamill, J. ‘How focused are the world’s top rated business schools on educating women for global management?, Journal of Business Ethics, 2008, 83:65–83.

Morley, L. (1999). Organising Feminisms: the Micro-politics of the Academy, Basingstoke, McMillan.

Times Higher Education, (2013) The Global Gender Index published on 2nd May 2013.

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Girls, Graduate Jobs and the Gender Chasm

Reports from across the world last week were claiming that we are no longer facing a gender gap but rather a gender chasm. Drawing on a new gender gap’report these articles claim that even though a number of countries see more young women going to university than young men, it is men who tend to end up faring better in employment (rising to higher levels of seniority and earning more than their female counterparts). Read the full story

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Has research on Gender and Education come of age as a properly scientific field or is something else happening?

I was recently invited by the University of Luxembourg as a keynote speaker at an International Conference, ‘Gender Variations in Educational Success: Searching for Causes’. It quickly became apparent that boys’ achievement with respect to girls’ is an international, hot topic. National and political concerns in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg have created a mass of research dominated by multivariate analysis and structural equation modelling.  Scholars from these countries drew heavily on data available from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to search for the ‘causes’ of boys’ underachievement. Alongside PISA data they used national public examination and test scores, psycho metric measures of cognitive competencies in, for example, reading, mathematics and problem solving, scales of well-being and data gathered from questionnaires designed by researchers to capture, for example young people’s motivations to learn. Read the full story

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Missing men: back to school- same old story?

On Thursday 1 September, Michael Gove made a speech about how students behave in schools. One of his ideas for getting students to stop misbehaving in class included a plea for more men to take up the job of teaching.  In his speech the Education Secretary said:

“We need more male teachers – especially in primary schools – to provide children who often lack male role models at home – with male authority figures who can display both strength and sensitivity.”

Well, I agree with the Education Secretary but I suspect for different reasons. Read the full story

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A ‘Worrying’ Trend or a Cause for Celebration? Girls’ Exam Success at 16

Once more the gap between girls’ and boys’ GCSE results (taken at 16) has been in the UK news (the results in Scotland were announced earlier in the year and did not attract the same kind of attention). Although it cannot be said that this has been the usual slow news Summer – we have had so far the Norwegian killings, riots and their aftermath in England, uprisings in Libya and Syria, stock market turbulence etc. etc. – this is generally the time of the year when journalists are looking for a story and try to make one up with the publication of the GCSE results. It is also the time of year when straw dogs are set up to be knocked down.  In my last post I noted how lone mothers and women teachers were being blamed for the riots. Well they are also being blamed for boys’ relative lower performance compared with girls, although other factors mentioned include over-use of course-work and grade inflation. Read the full story

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The e-word now at the heart of English (higher) education

The Third Gender and Education Association Policy Report (July 2011) Read the full story

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‘Study reveals extent of the Oxbridge divide’: Whatever happened to gender equality?

It is most remarkable that neither the Sutton Trust nor the media have noticed changing forms of inequality in access to elite universities over the last 30 years. Whilst it is true that access to Oxbridge remains highly privileged as the recent Guardian article suggests, there is a major change that has been overlooked. 2 of the 5 schools mentioned in your report have co-educational sixth forms, and a third is a girls’ school. Only two schools are single sex boys’ schools (Eton and St Pauls). Relatively equal numbers of boys and girls now access higher education, including Oxbridge and indeed girls slightly outperform boys in degree results overall. It is strange indeed that changing forms of gender equality in education are not celebrated in the rush to try to get poor or disadvantaged students into the elite universities. This is being encouraged in last week’s white paper: HE: putting students at the heart of the system. What a pity attention is not focused on trying to change the culture of the political elites who still maintain their male privilege, and continue to exclude not only the poor and disadvantaged but their middle class sisters in the higher echelons, despite their academic achievements.

Miriam David, GEA Executive


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Conference 2011 Keynote Address: Gender and Education, History and Progress (Carol Dyhouse)

Carol’s keynote opened the conference by taking stock of girls and women’s position in education for “without the past we can’t understand the present”. She began by troubling the idea of progress for in the history of girls education, things do not only get better. Read the full story

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Conference 2011 Keynote Address: Gender and Education in the Twenty-first Century, Engendering Debate? (Becky Francis)

Becky Francis’ keynote took on the task of exploring the current place of gender in the education system. She reflected on our current place as researchers in gender and education, on the theoretical challenges of our work and on our relationship to practice. Read the full story

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Do we need International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day has come around again.  We know this because each year at the beginning of March, you’d think that the topic of women and their rights had been newly discovered.  For a few days prior to the actual day, 8th March, the media seem suddenly to be fascinated by everything about women – what has happened to them over the previous year, reflections on various gender incidents and examples of sexism etc. with article after article taking the opportunity to comment on the condition of women (whether pro- or anti-). Here in Scotland the huge increase in domestic violence reported after a bad-tempered match between Celtic and Rangers, led to heightened discussion and (I hope) awareness of the damage that certain forms of masculinity are capable of. Read the full story

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Gender and Education Association

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May 2015