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Women in HE Conference 2020

Conditions for change – how can we accelerate change that tackles the treatment and inclusion of women?


Our inaugural Advance HE Women in HE Conference provided insight into solutions that work to address the barriers we 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 built on our expertise in this area, drawing 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.


Date: 23 January 2020

Venue: London Marriott Hotel Regents Park

Who: Individuals who are championing gender equality and women who are seeking to develop their careers in more senior roles within HE institutions

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Conference Theme

The conference focused on women in HE and 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. The Women in HE Conference 2020 looked 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 considered 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 heard 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.

Panel Sessions

Our two panel discussions delved more deeply into the barriers and challenges faced in achieving gender equality and our workshops allowed 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.

Women into leadership, the glass cliff and work-life balance

Chaired by Alison Johns, CEO, Advance HE and joined by panellists: Professor Ruth Sealy, Associate Professor in Management and Director of Impact, University of Exeter and Suzanne O'Brien.

Changing the Culture – Tackling Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Chaired by Uduak (Udy) Archibong, MBE, University of Bradford and joined by panellists: Waiyin Hatton, Chair of Court at the University of the West of Scotland, Dr Kelly Prince, Serious Incidents Officer, Keele University, Margaret Ayers, Director of HR and OD, Canterbury Christ Church University and Jenny Garrett, Career Coach and Leadership Development Consultant.

Conference Programme

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Women in HE Conference Programme


Keynote Speaker

Harriet Minter

Harriet is a journalist and broadcaster, specialising in female leadership. She founded and edited the Guardian's Women in Leadership section, which focused on women in the workplace, and now writes for them on Women in Tech. She is also a columnist for Psychologies magazine and hosts The Badass Women's Hour on TalkRadio. She's written for publications including The Times, Huffington Post and The Pool. 

Previously, Harriet worked as a commissioning editor for a range of sections on the Guardian and ran the engagement and social media strategy for the Guardian’s Professional Networks. Prior to working at the Guardian, she completed a Politics degree at Newcastle University following which she started her journalistic career at, the leading news site for lawyers. 

Harriet is a regular speaker on women's rights, the future of work, and digital media. She's given two TED Talks, the first on the importance of learning to fail, and the second on yoga, which have had tens of thousands of views.

Through her work, Harriet has interviewed a range of leading women from MPs to entrepreneurs and celebrities, including Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington and Tamara Mellon, and can adeptly entertain an audience with brilliant anecdotes from her vast career. She sits on the B2B Council for the Internet Advertising Bureau and is a member of Fujitsu’s stakeholder panel. Outside of work her passions include high heels and big boats - just not together.

Harriet Minter


Alison Johns

Panel Chair: Focus on women into leadership, the glass cliff and work-life balance

Alison was appointed chief executive of Advance HE in autumn 2017. Prior to that she was the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation. She has worked in higher education for 25 years. Before becoming chief executive, she was head of policy for leadership, governance and management at the Hefce (now the Office for Students), where she established both the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit. She is a past president of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and represents the UK on the Association of Commonwealth Universities Human Resources Management Network and has recently joined the British Council’s planning committee for Going Global, the major international higher education conference.


Suzanne O'Brien 

Panel Speaker: Focus on women into leadership, the glass cliff and work-life balance

Suzanne O’Brien is NED, Leadership Consultant and Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. After starting her career in Financial Services as a qualified accountant and tax consultant, Suzanne made the change to higher education by taking on a part-time “associate” lecturer role teaching accounting. She quickly progressed to full-time as a Senior Lecturer and then Programme Director.

Suzanne is a new facilitator for the 2019/20 cohort of Aurora. She is also Vice-Chair of the Board and Chair of the Finance Committee at Cross Keys Homes, the largest provider of social housing in Peterborough, and Chair of The Fifth Trust, a Kent-based charity that supports adults with learning difficulties.


Professor Ruth Sealy

Panel Speaker: Focus on women into leadership, the glass cliff and work-life balance

Ruth Sealy is an Associate Professor and Director of Impact, at University of Exeter Business School. With global expertise on women on corporate boards, Ruth’s research areas include women in leadership; board composition; role models; board evaluation; and various aspects of corporate governance and behavioural strategy. She has worked closely with government departments, listed companies and the NHS, advising on strategies to increase board diversity.

In 2017, Ruth led the NHS “50:50 by 2020 Women on Boards” research, and is currently engaged in the follow-up research.  In 2018, she led a research project for the Financial Reporting Council on diversity reporting. Prior to joining Exeter, she was Programme Director of the MSc Organizational Psychology, City University of London.

She gained her PhD from Cranfield School of Management, where she was lead researcher on the government’s annual Female FTSE Report 2007-2017, co-authoring similar reports in Hong Kong and India, and supplying data for the Davies Women on Boards Review 2011-2015. She has written a number of book chapters and published in journals such as Business Ethics Quarterly, Human Resource Management Journal, British Journal of Management and Gender Work & Organisation. 

Ruth Sealy

Dr Olajumoke (Jummy) Okoya

Panel Speaker: Focus on women into leadership, the glass cliff and work-life balance

Jummy is a highly accomplished coach and leadership and organisation development consultant with more than 2 decades’ experience. She is a highly experienced educator, trainer and researcher within the public and private sectors with experience of commissioning new and revalidating programmes. 

Jummy is an expert in delivering workplace resilience and wellbeing programmes and using positive psychology intervention tools to enable employees move from functioning to flourishing. She improves her clients’ organisational performance through developing high performing teams, developing coaching and mentoring initiatives and training institutional career champions.

As an Equality and Diversity (E&D) expert she leads on developing E&D strategy and develops programmes to improve gender parity, inclusive workplace, monitoring E&D data and employee wellbeing. She is the lead for University of East London Women’s Network, she is very passionate about developing female talent pipeline and encouraging more women into leadership positions.

Jummy is a branch executive with the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) and a member of HR Leaders network. She is a qualified positive psychology coach who uniquely integrates positive psychology interventions with HR tools to achieve a flourishing organisation and thriving employees. 

She is a senior lecturer and former MBA Director in the school of Business and Law at the University of East London, a visiting lecturer (VL) at many excellent institutions both in the UK (Imperial College Business School) & overseas (University for Foreigners of Perugia Italy). She manages International partnerships in Greece, Malaysia and Germany.


Uduak (Udy) Archibong

Panel Chair: Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Uduak is Professor of Diversity at the University of Bradford and directs the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity which provides strategic oversight for equality, diversity and inclusion across the institution. She was recognised by the British Government and the Queen for services to Higher Education and Equality and was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

She is a Fellow of the West African College of Nursing and a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and has been recognised as a thought leader in inclusion and diversity. She is currently leading in setting the agenda to drive research, learning and knowledge exchange activities internationally. She recently led to completion a major multi-million European Commission funded action research gender equality project, GENOVATE, across 7 European Universities and is currently leading gender and Inclusion elements of a multi-million Horizon 2020 project, RRING, along with 22 international partners in Europe, China, Africa, India, Japan, North America and South America.

She was also involved in a national research study ‘Cracking the Concrete Ceiling’ which explored the impact of Advance HE’s ‘Diversifying Leadership’ programme on UK Black and Minority Ethnic Academic staff. This study is in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of East London and Advance HE. A multi-award winner, she was honoured in June 2014 as one of the top 100 Nigerians in the UK to receive a Centenary Award, one of the top 50 Inspirational Women in Healthcare in the UK, and a Distinguished Nurse Leader in 21st century in Nigeria.  She was listed in the Black WHO'S WHO in the Millennium in recognition of her outstanding achievements. She is also an Ecumenical Canon of the Bradford Cathedral in the UK and Obong Ifiok 1 of Onna LGA, Akwa Ibom State.


Dr Kelly Prince

Panel Speaker: Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Kelly Prince is the Serious Incident Officer at Keele University, working wholly in the area of sexual violence. Her role includes investigations, policy development, staff training and student campaigns. Kelly has experience working in the voluntary sector, working for Manchester Women's Aid as a Refuge Worker and at Arch (North Staffs) she worked with people experiencing homelessness. She is a non-practising barrister, and returned to Keele in 2009 to complete her PhD. Kelly has worked with and studied aspects of gendered violence for 20 years, including domestic violence in same-sex relationships and human trafficking. 

Dr Kelly Prince

Dr Waiyin Hatton

Panel Speaker: Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Passionate about unleashing talents, Waiyin set up her own consultancy, Wai Beyond, in 2012 to inspire and nurture greatness in people, teams and organisations. Working across sectors and professional groups to deliver leadership development; coaching and Board development; acting as ‘Business’ Mentor; and being a role-model to women in leadership.

Prior to this, Waiyin has had extensive leadership experience across the public and not-for-profit sectors in health care in, England, Scotland and Wales. Her last post was that of Chief Executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, describing her role as ‘creating an environment to succeed’.

Waiyin puts back into the community. A former karate international medallist, she co-founded and is Chair of Ayrshire Sportsability, an award-winning charity which promotes health and well-being through sports for people with a disability. She is currently Chair, University of the West of Scotland; Chair, Action Against Stalking; and Director of Scottish Chamber of Commerce. Former roles include President, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce; first Chair, Institute of Healthcare Management (Scotland); Chair, Kilmarnock College; Vice-chair, Ayrshire College; and Board member, British Swimming and Sportscotland.

Waiyin was awarded Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow in 2015 for her contribution to the community. She has been recognised by the Association of Scottish Business-women for services to others in the business world in Scotland., winning the Best Business-Charity Award in 2015 and awarded Woman of Inspiration in 2014. 

Waiyin Hatton

Margaret Ayers

Panel Speaker: Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Margaret has been a Human Resources professional for more than 20 years. She began her HR career in the retail sector and has worked as an HR Director at four universities: Canterbury Christ Church, Edinburgh, Kent and Queen Mary University of London. Margaret’s main accomplishment in these roles has been in creating meaningful people strategies that support the organisation and the people who work in it.

Margaret has a very broad appreciation of HR, from people development and organisational development to employment law (which she studied for a postgraduate diploma) and reward. Margaret used to teach Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development students reward and employment resourcing at a local college. She is also interested in how the whole organisation works, so enjoys being part of SMT and working beyond the HR function. Margaret is also a member of the UUK Advisory Group on Staff-to-Student Sexual Misconduct.


Jenny Garrett

Panel Speaker: Sexual Misconduct, harassment and violence in the workplace

Jenny Garrett is a leadership development consultant, specialising in executive coaching, facilitation and research in the area of leadership and change. She is experienced facilitator of programmes for managers, Directors and CEOs from a variety of organisations, including private and public sector.

Jenny has a Masters degree MA (Management Learning and Leadership) Lancaster University. BA Honours Business, University of Westminster and Coaching Qualifications with Ashridge Business School and Lancaster University. She has the highest honorary award of 'Companion' from the Institute of Leadership and Management.



Norma Jarboe OBE

Workshop Presenter: Women onto Committees and Boards

Norma is an External Advisor to the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice, Oxford Brookes University. She has over 15 years’ experience in women’s development and diversity and has worked at senior levels in public/private partnerships, the private sector and the not-for -profit sector. She was previously Director of Opportunity Now (1999-2008), the UK’s leading employer network to advance women in the workplace.

Norma’s recent work, as founder and director of WomenCount, benchmarks the participation of women in leadership roles in Higher Education and the third sector, analyses the findings and explores actions to accelerate progress. Her publications include WomenCount: Leaders in Higher Education 2016 and WomenCount: Charity Leaders 2012.

Norma works in partnership with other organisations and initiatives committed to diversity, and is currently Chair of the Women’s Equality Network Wales which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. She has an MA in International Studies from the University of Denver and a Diploma from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University.


Ellen Pugh

Workshop Presenter: Demystifying Gender Pay

Ellen is a Senior Adviser at Advance HE specialising in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She has many years of experience working to promote equality, in particular gender and disability equality in the higher education sector across the UK. Ellen has been a member of several Joint Negotiating Committees for Higher Education Staff working groups to improve understanding and information on gender pay issues in the HE sector. She has worked with the Government Equalities office and Equality and Human Rights Commission to inform gender pay gap reporting requirements and the code of practice on the statutory Equal Pay Code of Practice. She has previously commissioned and worked closely with Sue Hastings on ECU’s 2010 guidance for EDI practitioners Promoting Equality in Pay.

Ellen is currently an adviser to the REF 2021 Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel and was nominated as a member from May 2017 to December 2018. She has developed training materials for both REF 2014 and REF 2021 designed to support HEIs embed the equality provisions. Ellen is also currently a member of UUK’s Taskforce on Staff Student Relationships, an external member of the University of London World Wide Inclusive Practice Panel and represents Advance HE on the Researcher Development Concordat executive and steering group.

Prior to joining ECU (now Advance HE) in 2009 Ellen worked for organisations including the London School of Economics and Political Science, Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (now Disability Rights UK) and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. Ellen’s background is in international development and she specialised in violence against women and the role of organisations in generating change during her studies and while working in South Africa on a DFID funded scholarship with VSO. Prior to working with the HE sector, she has worked as an advocate for human rights within the Commonwealth. 


Dr Antonia Sudkämper

Workshop Presenter: Collaborating with and including men

Antonia is a researcher on the topics of gender equality and diversity. Specifically, she conducted her recent doctoral research at the University of Exeter on men’s support for gender equality. Her Support for Gender Equality among Men Scale has been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. 

Currently, she works for OCR, Cambridge Assessment. Her research within the company aims to improve the fairness and accessibility of nation-wide examination papers. Moreover, she is part of Cambridge Assessment’s D&I working group aiming to improve the company’s D&I policies.

Next to her research, Antonia has been involved in various other initiatives focused on gender equality. For instance, she is part of the London-based gender thin-tank consultancy GenPol, she has worked for the Equal Opportunities office at the European Council  in Brussels, and she is the founder and author of the award-winning website Equilibrium


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