Professor Louise Morley
University of Sussex
Stimulus Paper, January 2013
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Worldwide, the enrolment of women in higher education now exceeds that of men. Women’s participation in higher education as a result of the expansion of both capacity and opportunity has, as Louise Morley says in this paper, increased sixfold during the last forty years.
The good news, however, ends there as the dramatic increase in the number of women students has not been matched by growth in the number of women in senior leadership roles in universities. Most academics and academic leaders are male and, even where there are marked increases in the representation of women in particular jobs for instance at deputy level in Australian universities this progress is not matched by the translation of those deputies into the top jobs. Some nations, most notably Sweden, have achieved real change by identifying the ways and means to benchmark progress in a range of significant career development activities, but this successful intervention provides an isolated example.
In this well-founded, stimulating paper, Morley makes some recommendations for the next steps to be taken if we are serious about addressing the current gender deficit in senior leadership roles in higher education. She makes the point that the collection of good global data will inform analysis of the barriers which have been encountered by those women who have attained leadership positions as well as the ‘structures of inequality’ which militate against the entry of larger numbers of women into these roles. Morley details a number of initiatives being run in a variety of countries women’s leadership programmes; gender mainstreaming; affirmative action, quotas and targets but also looks positively toward the possibilities for reinvigorating the debate by developing a new set of values and challenges for leaders in higher education which ‘include sustainability, social inclusion and creating knowledge for a rapidly changing world’.
This essay is not a lament, nor is it a throwing up of hands (or in the towel). Morley’s work sets us a series of challenges; the most influential actors in the sector chairs of councils and governing bodies, executive search firms, leadership development and human resource professionals and researchers working in the field of Gender Equality need to pick them up and work towards an employee demographic in higher education that comes closer to a mirror of the student body.
Professor Janet Beer
Oxford Brookes University
This paper aims to stimulate discussion on women’s participation in higher education (HE) leadership. The review examines international literature and the diverse theoretical frameworks and vocabularies that are marshalled to examine factors that may drive or depress women’s aspirations and career orientations. The global literature can be classified into at least four analytical frameworks: gendered divisions of labour (Lynch, 2010); gender bias and misrecognition (Bardoel et al. 2011); management and masculinity (Billing, 2011); and greedy organisations and work/life balance challenges (Currie et al, 2002; Guillaume and Pochic, 2009). The paper also includes examples of structured interventions that have been developed to encourage more women to enter leadership positions in universities.