This project examines the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality in HE. As the sector has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and continues to deal with the on-going challenges, there is a risk that insufficient time to take stock and reflect has been allowed and the knock on effect on equality in particular may mean a slowdown in progress made to date, or even worse a regression. Are there elements of the response to the pandemic that have the potential to advance gender equality in the longer term? What has inhibited or regressed gender equality and what could the sector do differently?
Covid-19 has undoubtedly impacted on gender equality in higher education. Academics frequently work from home but many women academics report their workloads having increased with the shift to online learning and their research productivity being impacted . WHEN Equality conducted a survey for women working in professional and services areas and its findings are in line with those of the Fawcett Society, in that women have borne the brunt of domestic and caring responsibilities, in particular women who identify as Black, Asian and minority ethnic. We also know that women are also more likely to lose their jobs and feel less secure in their employment.
While the sector needs to recognise the impact Covid-19 has had on gender equality, in order to appropriately support its staff and students, it is important that we do not overlook the progress made prior to Covid-19 nor the opportunities that could arise from the changes that the pandemic has made to how we work and communicate. In February we will be publishing the Aurora review which draws upon 5 years of the Aurora programme and the results of our survey on remote working. What challenges remain pertinent for HEIs in their support for Aurorians and women staff generally and are there new opportunities for catalysing gender equality?
The outputs planned should result in the following outcomes:
- Greater understanding of the intersectional impacts of Covid-19 on gender equality.
- Policy makers in HE and Advance HE itself have a deeper understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality.
- A better understanding of how the sector can improve its support for staff who continue to work from home or remotely
- Increased awareness of the Aurora longitudinal study outcomes and the challenges that still remain for members in supporting women’s career progression.
This project is an Advance HE member benefit and is open to colleagues at Advance HE member institutions. Information on Advance HE membership can be found via the link below.
Building back better for Gender Equality in higher education
This short report, which is available to Advance HE members, summarises the key themes identified from the ‘Global Gender Roundtable’ the aim of which was to deepen understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality and to start to identify actions that have been explored or initiated to reduce its impact.
Survey - exploring the impact of Covid-19 responses and remote working in HE
Between October and December 2020 Advance HE conducted a survey exploring the impact of Covid-19 on remote working, the support staff have received from their institutions and gender differences in these experiences. The survey not only assessed the barriers faced by staff working in UK higher education, but also considered how the shift to remote working may have positively impacted staff members’ engagement with various aspects of their roles.
As part of February’s Connect Benefit Series, we will publish a report with initial findings of the survey. These results and our corresponding recommendations will be reported at our virtual Women in HE Conference on 25 February 2021.
Podcast - The intersectional impact of Covid-19
Dr Sarah Liu, Lecturer in Gender and Politics at the University of Edinburgh and Ellen Pugh, Senior Adviser at Advance HE converse the intersectional impact of Covid-19 and its implications for higher education providers responses in relation to staff support.
Related events, services and resources
Below you will find information on Advance HE services and resources which relate to the member benefits listed above.
Longitudinal report highlights the impact of Aurora – Advance HE's leadership development initiative for women
Summary report highlights Aurorans’ positive perceptions of the effects of the programme on their motivation to seek leadership roles, people skills for leadership and proactive career management.
Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme
Explore the contemporary contexts and challenges of being a female senior leader.
Our Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme is one of our women-only programmes designed specifically for women in senior positions in HE to help them take the next step up or extend their role, profile and impact. It aims to create more gender parity in senior leadership within higher education.
Aurora is Advance HE's leadership development initiative for women. It is run as a unique partnership bringing together leadership experts and higher education institutions to take positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector.
Aurora seeks to support women and their institutions to fulfil their leadership potential through thought provoking activities, collaborative problem solving activities and motivating stories supported by inspirational women role models. Participation embeds strong networks of early career women across the sector to share best practice, insights and experiences.
Athena Swan Charter
Encouraging and recognising commitment to advancing gender equality. The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
- The short term negative impacts of Covid-19 on UK gender equality have been well documented in a study into the impact of Covid-19 on BME women conducted by Fawcett Society, LSE, QMUL and Women’s Budget Group, which also highlights the intersectional impact of Covid-19 on gender equality.
- Evidence on the longer term global impact of the pandemic on gender equality including the gender pay gap
- Many women academics report their workloads having increased with the shift to online learning and their research productivity being impacted
- WHEN Equality conducted a survey for women working in professional and services areas and its findings are in line with those of the Fawcett Society, in that women have borne the brunt of domestic and caring responsibilities
- Home working has become the norm globally for the majority of staff in higher education. Prior to Covid-19 home working was often viewed with scepticism in terms of employees’ productivity and yet home working has significant benefits for women who are still the main caregivers in our society.
Advance HE Connect
Advance HE Connect our online network that is open to all those who work in HE providing a space where the sector can share, connect and collaborate in one place with 20,000 HE peers from 100 countries around the globe. The platform features special interest groups, events and collaborative projects.