Despite comprising the majority of staff working in UK higher education, women remain underrepresented at the most senior levels and the challenge to increase the pace of change remains. Our inaugural Advance HE Women in HE Conference will provide insight into solutions that work to address the barriers we have identified, through our extensive research, knowledge and understanding, in achieving step change across HE in relation to all gender equality issues through practical exploration of the known and hidden challenges across a range of intersectional themes relating to women in HE. The day will build on our expertise in this area drawn from our leadership of the Athena Swan Charter, championing women’s leadership development, including Aurora, equal pay and supporting the extension of women represented on university boards – all to encourage and support change across the sector.
The first Advance HE conference on women in HE will focus on accelerating change for gender equality. There has been significant progress in all areas of gender equality in the last decade but at times this is slow, and some may say at risk of even going backwards due to the pace of change. The Advance HE annual staff and student statistical report shows us that despite comprising the majority of staff working in UK HEIs (54.4%), women remained under-represented among academic staff, staff in SET subject areas and in senior management roles. A larger proportion of women than men worked in professional and support roles, worked part-time, on fixed-term contracts, and in lower salary bands. Gender pay gaps remain highest among academic staff, though were still evident among professional and support staff. There has been an increase in the proportion of female professors from 24.6% in 2016-17 to 25.5% in 2017-18, but although the direction of change is positive the pace of change is slow. This conference will look at how we can accelerate the pace of change within HE by looking at inspirational leadership, key policies and initiatives and successful examples from within and outside of the HE sector.
The conference will consider all aspects HE relating to gender equality for women, including diversity on boards, gender pay gap and demystifying our understanding of this, sexual harassment and violence, women into leadership roles, the work-life balance and the glass cliff with a focus on intersectional approaches that span multiple aspects of diversity.
Delegates will hear from senior women leaders who have overcome many of these barriers during their career and who are now focused on accelerating change in their organisations and more widely across HE. Our panel discussions will delve more deeply into the barriers and challenges faced in achieving gender equality and our workshops will allow delegates to examine the practicalities of implementing this work, alongside the multiple overlapping barriers faced by those working in this area to accelerate change by learning from each other.