Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Gender Gap Still Yawns among the Professoriate: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Gender Gap Still Yawns among the Professoriate: News

Article excerpt

Hesa data show just one in 10 at the grade is female at some institutions. Jack Grove reports.

Universities' efforts to address gender inequality have been criticised in light of figures showing that just one in 10 professors is a woman at some institutions.

Overall, around one in five professors in the UK is female, but statistics obtained by Times Higher Education show that several universities are falling well short of that low benchmark.

There were just six women among 77 full-time equivalent professors at Aberystwyth University (7.9 per cent) in 2011-12, according to data provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

At Bournemouth University the figure was just three out of 30 professors (8.7 per cent), while at the University of Bath it was 18 out of 163 (10.8 per cent), the Hesa figures show.

At Imperial College London the proportion was 14.1 per cent in 2011-12, at the University of Liverpool it was 14.7 per cent and at the University of Cambridge it was 15.6 per cent.

Despite the prevalence of men in the professoriate, many universities have managed to achieve near gender parity in other academic grades, with women making up 45.1 per cent of non-professorial academics.

But it is women's lack of progression through the academic ranks that must be addressed, said Louise Morley, director of the Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research at the University of Sussex.

"Universities need to be held to account for their low numbers of senior women," said Professor Morley, who suggested that universities should be barred from research funding unless they can prove they are supporting female academics' careers.

"Some type of leverage is required as it does not appear that universities will initiate (change) themselves," she said.

Professor Morley also suggested that it should be mandatory for institutions to sign up to the UK Athena SWAN project, which promotes women in science, so that "gender (is) factored into all strategic planning and processes".

Publishing comparative data (the THE's table is the first breakdown by institution of such information) could also force universities to address the professorial gender gap, she added.

"These statistics need to be in the public domain," she said.

Specialist equality

Research-intensive universities tend to have lower numbers of female professors, our data suggest. …

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