The QMS Gender Equality Blog was developed to share information on our research, teaching, and engagement activities related to promoting gender equality in a fast, informative, and accessible way.
In addition, the blog allows us to provide updates in relation to our progress towards attaining an Athena Swan Bronze Charter Mark.
While there has been significant progress in recent decades, gender equality remains an aspiration, rather than the reality, in many domains. Higher education is no exception. The UK is considered by many to be at the vanguard in terms of promoting equality within the sector, both as the result of the actions of individual institutions as well as sector wide initiatives such as Athena SWAN. Nevertheless, problems persist. While women now make up over half of undergraduates at UK universities, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reports that less than 50% of academic staff are female. Delving deeper, The Guardian suggests that one of the most significant concerns relates to career progression: ‘At senior levels, only a quarter of professors are women, and black women make up less than 2% of all female academic staff’.
At Queen’s Management School (QMS) we are committed to identifying and addressing barriers to equality that affect our staff and students. QMS has a longstanding and increasingly active Gender Equality Team (GET) who are tasked with evaluating our activities and, where required, developing effective strategies for improvement. Dr Renee Prendergast, who serves alongside Dr Silviu Tierean as Athena SWAN Champion, states: ‘During my time at Queen’s we have made quite a lot of progress on gender equality, but we have still a long way to go. It’s great that we have a female head of school, but we need more women at senior levels in the school’.
In addition, at QMS we are highly cognisant of our responsibility in terms of educating future leaders. In 2018, The Guardian reported that there were just 30 women in full-time executive roles in FTSE 250 companies. These include six female CEOs and 19 female CFOs. The picture is somewhat better at board level, with women now taking up almost a quarter (23.7%) of directors’ positions on FTSE 250 boards. However, global women’s workplace advocacy organisation Catalyst caution that the percentage of women in senior roles has in fact been declining worldwide. Lack of representation is a particular concern in industries such as software and IT, finance, corporate services, and manufacturing. Catalyst argue that, at least in part, this may be due to a stereotypical ‘think manager, think male’ mind-set. Indeed, the New York Times recently reported that across an array of different fields there were more men named ‘John’ than women in senior positions, despite the latter making up over half of the population. As a result, we are taking steps to challenge outmoded ideas of leadership and management through our teaching and research, and reframing them as roles open to all.
Our work on gender equality is closely aligned with our broader Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability (ERS) agenda. Indeed, Dr Laura Steele, ERS Champion and GET member notes: ‘The School is a signatory to the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative and an increasingly active supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender Equality represents a key pillar of the SDGs. This is in recognition of the fact that equal rights and opportunities for women and men, girls and boys are essential if we are to build peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable societies’. She continued, ‘Promoting gender equality is not just the duty of governments. Businesses and, indeed, business schools, have a pivotal role to play, and we are acutely aware of this at QMS’.
In 2019, the Gender Equality Team will work towards attaining an Athena Swan Bronze Charter Mark.
We look forward to sharing our work in relation to gender equality through this new blog. In the meantime, if you would like more information please contact the QMS Athena SWAN Champions, Dr Renee Prendergast or Dr Silviu Tierean.
Queen's University Belfast is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.
Queen's University Belfast is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC101788
VAT registration number: GB 254 7995 11