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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021

How has Covid-19 impacted on gender equality in HE?

This project examines the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality in HE and considers the consequences of a slowdown or even regression in progress made in previous decades.

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. 

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