Women are seriously under-represented at leadership levels in academia making up less than 21% of the professoriate and 17% of Vice Chancellors. However, women are predicted to be the majority of all academics by 2020 although the same projections show that women will not be fairly represented at professorial level until 2070 at the earliest (Leathwood and Read, 2009). Across the White Rose Universities, there has been mounting interest in taking action to redress this under-representation and to retain and progress women into leadership positions and improve the gender and diversity balance at the highest senior management levels.
Our new research report, White Rose Women in Leadership Initiative: Absent talent in UK HEIs? explores the institutional and societal barriers encountered by the women within our study and presents them within 7 themes:
1) The work-life-family balance conundrum: the tension between work and family; institutional culture of work life balance and experience of flexible working arrangements
2) The career path-negotiating the trajectory: professional and personal impacts
3) Promotion: ascending the grading structure and entering the domain of senior leadership
4) Cultural barriers: ‘Fixing’ the Knowledge of alienating leadership cultures
5) Organisational barriers: ‘Fixing’ the institution with examples of positive institutional culture and working practices
6) Individual barriers and enablers: ‘Fixing’ the women, success, ‘blame’ and support
7) How to make a difference: opportunities for change, the potential of leadership to impact on future generations and critical mass arguments
This pilot study generated data through seminars and one to one interviews with female professors across the White Rose universities and was funded by LUCILE , The Leeds University Center for Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies. A Steering Group has been set up to oversee this initiative and has guided the research as this small scale funded study generated data for further discussion.
If you would like further information, or would like to become involved in this initiative, then please contact Claire Pickerden who is leading the project on behalf of the White Rose University Consortium