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Building back better for Gender Equality in higher education

26 Mar 2021 | Ellen Pugh Report from the inaugural Global Gender Roundtable

Throughout February 2021, Advance HE’s Member Benefit theme focussed on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality in higher education (HE). Outputs for the month included podcasts, blogs, a survey exploring the impact of Covid 19 and remote working in HE, and the ‘Global Gender Roundtable’.

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.

Among the attendees were representatives from higher education sector organisations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, United States and the UK nations.

The Roundtable was held under Chatham House Rules, consequently the report highlights themes, initiatives and issues generally. Delegates explored three questions:

  • What issues are you/your organisation aware of that have inhibited or regressed gender equality in HE during the pandemic to date?
  • How can the higher education sector ensure momentum to advance gender equality?
  • How can the sector ensure that in relation to gender equality, it ‘builds back better’? 

Ellen Pugh, report author “Many of those who attended pointed to initiatives they had introduced in response to the pandemic, as well as improved engagement and communications that seems to have been an unwitting but welcome consequence of remote working. Organisations have recognised the challenges of caring commitments – though recognition is just a first step.”

“Many of the initiatives go well beyond recognition as organisations globally have started to respond to the significant body of evidence highlighting the negative consequences of the pandemic on women in particular. These include a fall in their publication rates; the additional commitment expected of them in student pastoral care; and concerns in the slow-down in momentum in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion EDI) work due to reprioritisation of work. The group saw ‘Building back better’ as way to focus the emphasis of the recovery on the future, and an opportunity work harder to address the stark gender, race and socio-economic inequalities in our society.”

Building back better for Gender Equality in higher education: Report from the inaugural Global Gender Roundtable is available to Advance HE members and those who attended the inaugural Roundtable.

Advance HE will hold further invite only Global Gender Roundtable meetings to help ensure that momentum is maintained and that practice is shared.

Advance HE will continue to share outcomes with the purpose of informing higher education sector policy and practice to advance gender equality.

Find out more about our Connect Benefit Series – the ‘what works’ suite of member-only events, publications and resources, focusing on individual monthly themes, including February 2021 – How has Covid-19 impacted on gender equality in HE?

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